Yeah, Uh-huh, Sure.

I saw a commercial that cracked me up today. It showed this girl getting a phone call. It was from a collection agency. He told her that he’d noticed some patterns in the way she’s been paying, or not paying, her debts. Then he told her that she should call this credit counselling firm and they could help her.

And that’s when you know you’re watching a commercial. If a company has sent out the collection hounds after you, they’re not nice about it. They assume that you’re not good for the cash, and they’ll get it out of you however they can. They don’t really want to talk to you at all. They just want the money. that’s the only thing that talks. Unfortunately, I met some of these collection hounds, and it wasn’t even my fault.

Years ago, I bought a little portable computer/braille display thingy. It needed repairs, so I was told by the guy I bought it from that he would arrange for it to be shipped back to the distributor in the states, but he would take care of all the shipping costs. I later found out he didn’t. I guess with some bigger items, you have to pay some kind of broker fee. I don’t get it, but there it is. So anyway, without telling me, the shipper used a third party company I’d never heard of to handle the fees. I think the guy who said he’d take care of all the shipping costs should have known about this, since he’s used this shipper for ten years. He didn’t tell me either.

Then I started getting letters from this company, but they didn’t have my name on them and they didn’t sound like any company I’d dealt with. So I threw them out without realizing they were bills. We’d been getting a lot of junk mail in envelopes from dating services at that time, so I thought that was all this was.

Then, oh then. I got an ugly letter from a collection agency that said I was to pay my delinquent account or go to court. Here I was thinking my identity had been stolen, thinking my credit card had been stolen, freaking out. After checking that nothing I knew about had been stolen, I called the agency whose number was on the bill. I was forwarded to the lady who wrote the letter. I left a message asking for her to call me back and we could talk about this. No reply. I called back the next day, same thing. Finally, about 2 minutes after I made the last call, since I really wanted these hounds off my tail, I called back and I asked the receptionist if she could physically see this lady in the office. She said yes. I asked if she could go get her, and lead her to the phone, because she can’t seem to find it. Only then did I get to talk to her, figure out where this was all coming from, and fix it. She never really explained why she was refusing to pick up the phone.

I’m pretty sure this is the norm and not the exception. I’ve heard about collection agencies coming after relatives of people who died, and not believing the person is dead until they see a death certificate because they’ve heard it all before. I don’t think they’re going to tell the person they’re after that they should seek credit counselling.

As an aside, here’s something that has always made me laugh. There’s an ad for a certain credit counselling service that goes, “Call us on the phone or see us on the net, 310-debt.” They love to talk about avoiding filing for bankrupcy in their commercials. If a person is so buried in debt that they’re thinking about going bankrupt to get away from it, do you think they’ll have a phone? Or the web? I know the phone call is free, thank god, or it would be histerical. But I thought it was funny that they didn’t just stick to telling them to look up where they’re located in the phone book, since it would probably be best for them to just drop in. Otherwise, they’d be phoning them for a private, or not so private, consultation, from a public payphone. But maybe I’m just weird.

And as a final aside, does it freak anyone else out that Moneymart, the ones giving out payday loans that can kill you with interest, is now handing out Mastercards? “Here, have some more debt, suckas!” That’s all I can think when I see those ads.

Where’d my point go? I guess some stuff in ads, when it comes to debt, is just goofy. Either they’re being super nice where they wouldn’t be, or super generous where they shouldn’t be. But I guess they caught my attention, so maybe their plan is working.

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