I have been harassed, cursed at, yelled at, and forced to endure extremely rude calls for about two months now. For a debt I do not owe! Let me start from the beginning.
The Situation in a Nutshell
An AT&T Debt Collection Agency, Source Receivables Management, has been calling me non-stop for two months from phone numbers 321-250-7029 and 877-251-3771. When I called to tell them they had the wrong number, I was cursed at and hung up on – multiple times. Collection Agencies are out of control in today’s economic landscape.
The Situation Fully Explained
I have had my current cell phone number for about two years. Prior to my having this number, some jerky named Peter Reismoose (sp?) had the number. Peter has fallen into rough times and is having financial difficulty.
Peter hasn’t paid his student loans. Peter hasn’t paid his other bills. Every week, I get a call on this number for Peter. I somehow get the very distinct impression that Peter ditched this phone number two years ago to avoid debt collectors.
For the past two months, I have been getting automated calls, five days a week, from a local telephone number, 321-250-7029. When I answer the phone, an automated system picks up and the prompts go like this:
This call is for Peter Reismoose. If you are Peter Reismoose, please Press 1. If you are not Peter Reismoose, please press 2 now.
<I press 2>
Please have Peter Reismoose call us back at 877-251-3771. If this is the wrong telephone number, please press 3.
<I press 3>
To confirm that this is the wrong telephone number, please press 4 now.
<I press 4>
I have gone through this routine almost daily for over two months. One would logically assume that by indicating that this is the wrong number that they would STOP CALLING. But they do not. Each day, the routine is repeated, except for the days I ignore the call.
Finally, yesterday, I had had enough. I called 877-251-3771; they needed to know this was the wrong number. A young-sounding lady finally answered the phone after I was on hold for five minutes. She answered and said “Hi Peter.” Obviously, this call center has callerid and still assumed I was Peter, even after 2 months of my opt outs.
I very politely informed her that I was not Peter. She said “ok thanks” and was about to hang up. I assume this call center, like any other, has quotas to meet and she couldn’t waste time talking on a non-productive call. Still, I wanted to make sure my name was removed from the list so I said, “whoa, whoa, before you hang up I want to know that I’ve been removed from the list. I’ve taken over 40 calls from your system and it always calls me back even though I say I am not Peter.”
The young lady got very indignant and said something along the lines of, “Well you should man up, shut the fuck up, and take care of business.” And she hung up on me.
I sat there in silence for a moment, staring incredulously at my phone. What had brought THAT on? I got irate. I don’t care what pressure these call center agents are under, that was unacceptable.
So I called back. When someone else answered the phone I asked to speak to a manager. And got hung up on.
Repeat this 20+ times. I called, asked for a manager, and got hung up on. EVERY TIME. You can imagine my ire was growing with each hangup – and I got very stubborn. I would call back every 10 seconds until I got satisfaction.
Finally, I got an agent on the phone named A.J. who did not hang up on me. I asked for a manager and he immediately attacked me:
AJ: Are you the guy that keeps calling back?
AJ: We’ve already removed your number from the system, you won’t get another call.
Me: Great. Now please let me speak to a manager. One of your agents cursed at me and I need to speak to a manager.
AJ: What agent?
Me: I don’t know her name. It happened too fast.
AJ: What did she say?
Me: She told me to “man up” and to “shut the fuck up.”
AJ: <sarcastically> She said that?
Me: Yes. Now please let me speak to a manager.
AJ: No, this doesn’t warrant a manager.
Me: By the way, I am recording this call. Now please let me speak to a manager.
AJ: We record all of our calls too.
Me: Great, then there can be no doubt that I was cursed at. Now let me speak to a manager.
AJ: <getting short with me, very short> I already told you no. Now you need to stop calling.
Me: I will call every 10 seconds for the next 24 hours until I get a manager.
AJ: Our shifts end in 17 minutes so please feel free.
Me: And I’ll start again tomorrow at 8:00am. I will call back until I get to speak to a manager.
<click> He hung up on me.
I was so furious by this time I was literally shaking. But I am also more stubborn than the average bear. So I called back. Again. And again. And again. It was obvious that I had been flagged at this point and I considered using a callerID spoof to get through.
Finally, someone picked up. I asked for a manager and, surprise, I was FINALLY PUT THROUGH. At least I assume it was a manager.
A Mr. Martin answered the phone and before I could even tell him my situation he spent 5 minutes telling me how his call center floor of 50 agents has over a million accounts. (yes, a million, he said – just ONE agency has over a million accounts) and that they are a small business and he can’t take every call for people who complain.
I was polite to Mr. Martin. I sympathized with him. I told him I understand that debt collectors have a difficult job because they face antagonistic people all the time. They try to get money from people who are struggling and resent the big corporations for allowing them to get in the financial mess they are in. I get it.
Still, there is NO EXCUSE for the treatment I received – and all I was trying to do was tell them they had the wrong number. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I will record every single call moving forward and that I would file legal complaints if I was further harassed by them. Mr. MArtin assured me I would not be called and that he personally would review the call logs from the day and take action to retrain floor agents who had behaved inappropriately.
It’s the best I could hope for, I guess.
OK – I get it. In this economy one of the few businesses that are thriving are debt collections companies. Millions of people are late on one bill or another. Debt collection companies make major money collecting these debts and they will do anything and everything they can get away with to collect. Including rudeness, threats, and implications of legal action that, sometimes, are blatantly false.
I’m not going to make any statements about how debt collectors are little better than scavengers picking the remains of the dead. Regardless of how deceptive lending practices are by many firms (and that’s another blog in and of itself) people are responsible for their debt. If they can avoid paying it when hard times hit – great. If they can’t, they need to figure something out. Too many people are unwilling to sacrifice unnecessary luxuries to clear their debt – luxuries like cable TV or gym memberships,etc. Debt collectors know this and often many borrowers need a sharp dose of reality.
Regardless, though, there is never, ever, any justification for demeaning anyone, insulting them, or threatening them. The treatment I received from SRM, and I wasn’t even being collected on, was deplorable and reprehensible. These debt collection companies are a lot like the wild west right now – they are lacking serious regulation and consequences and are getting away with everything short of murder. This has to stop.