Chapter 2 Featured Submissions

“The amount of abuse our collectors take when they attempt to work with someone is insane. The evening news would have to run ten 2-hour specials to play all of our tapes where debtors threaten to blow up our office or threaten collectors that they will attack them when they leave work as well as threats on their family members, etc.

It is unfortunate that all it takes is for one debtor to misinterpret the mini miranda [Editor: required by law to preface any collection call on a debtor] to be some sort of indication that we work for the government or police and that we will seek information to arrest the person.

This is the current case for us right now, and in fact, the allegation is not that we “told” her we were the police, it is that we “made her feel like we were the law” by giving the miranda. We now sit $25,000 to $30,000 in the hole defending ourselves against the claim (no actual laws broken, only misinterpreted feelings).

We offered to settle this case for a couple thousand dollars but the [debtor’s] attorney thinks he’ll get rich on this one. We intend to sue for our legal expenses when she loses this trial just like we successfully did in a similar case where the plaintiff received no verdict. We took a judgment of $45,000 against her for her and her attorney’s frivolous law suit.

We would get a better idea of how many legitimate suits there are against debt collectors if the courts would cap how much an attorney can be awarded for their fees. I recently read a judgment against a collection agency where the debtor (plaintiff was awarded $590.75 and the attorney was awarded over $70,000 in fees.). Now remember, justice was served here, right?”

-G.C.

In case you think collection agencies are only too pleased to see you “fail” in getting your money, think again. Here is a sample of some good advice from Michelle Dunn, owner of a New Hampshire collection agency:

“There are two easy things you can do to strengthen your policy today.



    Make sure every account is up to date on payments, start working on them now if you haven’t been.



    Make sure you have a signed credit application with up to date contact information on file for every customer.



The first item could take you some time depending on how many past due accounts you have. If you don’t have that many you will get the best results by calling them, and call the customers that owe you the most money first then work your way down the list.


If you have to many to call and it would take you days, pick out the highest dollar amounts accounts and the oldest past due balances and just call those. Send collection letters to the rest, and include a self addressed envelope for the payment.



If you don’t have time to do any of those things, don’t worry, you can still do something! You can outsource this task to a debt collection agency who will do this for you and mail you a check each month less their commission on what is collected. If they don’t collect anything, you don’t pay anything.



The second item is a bit easier, you can just do a mailing to all customers and send them a new credit application, send a cover letter letting them know you are updating your files. This way if you have an old one, you can make sure it is current and if you didn’t have one for a customer, now you will.

Be sure to check each customer’s credit limits and adjust any that you think may need to be adjusted, especially on accounts that have started to become past due.”

-Michelle, New Hampshire USA

More on Michelle, a veteran collector, author and industry consultant, at www.michelledunn.com

And here is a view from the other side of the credit coin. It is a tale about a long-ago, but still vividly remembered, visit from the Repo Man:

“My two daughters, 8 and 11 years old, were dressing as I showered at 6:30 AM on a California winter morning. They came running into the bathroom telling me a man was at the door. When I asked them who he was they didn’t know. I told them that I couldn’t come to the door because I was showering and my hair was wet and soapy and I asked them to tell him to come back later.

The girls returned with the message that it was urgent that I talk to him immediately. Fearing the death of a loved one, neighbor house on fire, or other giant calamity, I climbed out of the shower still soapy, wrapped myself in a towel and robe and went to the front door.

An imposingly large 40 year old man with a back-up crony greeted me as I opened the door and continued to drip on the entryway tiles. His gracious hello consisted of “We’re here for your car, where is it?” I stammered a few versions of “what? why”? Of course I knew that we were 2 months behind on payments and I was alone with my children, responsible for taking them to school, me to and from work and had no one else to rely on for transportation and no public transportation.

Somewhere in my deep understanding of what really mattered, I looked at my daughters and shut the door on their not so gentle manly faces. The car was in the garage and I had no intention of giving it to them.

After we finished our dressing, eating and lunch preparations and we were ready to leave the house I checked to see if the men were in the street from an upstairs window. I didn’t see them but didn’t trust that they weren’t around a corner. We all loaded into the car with the garage door down. I started the engine, shifted into reverse, pushed the garage door opener button and zoomed out of the garage.

Even though I was on the lookout for a repeat visit by these men they didn’t reappear. Perhaps it was the image of a dripping wet half-nude woman with two young frightened girls behind her that kept them at abeyance. A few days later I was able to negotiate updating the payments and kept the car and our precious transportation.”

-D.A., Utah, USA

And finally, a balanced view on consumer debt:

“The issue with consumer debt is that it has over the past few years been an emotional issue. We…want more and more, and we say that the sunny day is just over the mountain where it will all be covered – no problem – and we find the credit to do so.

So, those who should have bought less, smaller, fewer or other such terms, didn’t.

Who is at fault – the borrower for believing in themselves? The lender for believing in them? Neither – a new agreement needs should be reached.

But, again, we got so big, so fast, so out of control…that we are at a loss as to where to go from here.

Embrace the debtor, hold them responsible but work to see the best outcome for all. No reason to cookie-cut everyone. At the first few levels…there are things to be done – but later in the process, work it out rather than pull out the bigger hammer. It is just at that point where all you do is break it and gain nothing.”

-M.N., Los Angeles, CA