Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Collection Tip – Don’t Be A Jerk!

This week, we had a consumer call in out of the blue, asking to resolve a matter we had reported to their credit bureau that was three years old.  The file had previously been a trace account and we had not been able to locate them, so this was the first time speaking to each other.  The collector negotiated payment on the balance over the next four weeks, and received the debtor’s contact information to follow up with them.

However, after working out the account, the debtor explained that we were the first agency to treat her decently.  The other two she had called previously that day about different accounts on her credit bureau had yelled at her, were abusive, and demanded immediate payment in full.

Are you kidding me?  Is that really necessary?

Here we have someone, calling us, offering to pay our client in full.  Why wouldn’t we be anything other than pleasant?  We’ve already executed the consequences, and affected this person’s credit rating – they in turn are calling us, trying to make amends in a reasonable manner.

Another Real Example ...

We recently posted about a debtor who retained a lawyer to send us a cease and desist order in this article:

Their letter demanded that we not call, and not affect their credit rating, as they were not willing to pay. After receiving this cease and desist letter, we responded in writing with a letter stating we would certainly cease calls, but we would not be able to prevent listing the matter on the credit bureau – however, as a courtesy we would hold off reporting it for 30 days, to give the debtor a chance to investigate, and referred them to sources for information on consumer rights.

After sending this letter, the consumer called us on the telephone, and asked some questions.  While we stood by our client, we were patient, and took about 20 minutes to go over the consumer’s inquiries about their rights and provided them the toll free numbers for Trans Union and Equifax.  A few days later, the debtor got back to us, told us they had consulted with Trans Union Services, and was willing to pay the matter to avoid the credit bureau rating, as they had informed the consumer that the debt sounded legitimate, and stood by our right to list this on the credit bureau. 

The debtor specifically told us they were willing to pay, solely because we had treated them with respect and freely provided information to let the debtor make up their own mind.


In both cases, our company stood by the creditor’s right to demand payment.  But we didn’t yell, we didn’t apply emotional coercion, and we didn’t make unrealistic demands for immediate payment – we  listened to the consumer, gave them their options, and assigned a realistic deadline to get back to us with their position.

When you are in a position of authority, and you have consequences and a deadline that you bring to bear, there’s no need to be a jerk about it.  Be patient, and explain your role, answer any questions they have about the account, and then let the debtor decide whether they will pay, or suffer the consequences you have laid out.

If you are a interested in speaking about professional representation of a creditor, or the finer points of the Consumer Protection Act, whether you are a creditor or a consumer, by all means contact my office to speak with me. My office number at Kingston Data and Credit is 226-444-5695.

Blair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
Kingston Data and Credit
Cambridge, Ontario

1 comment:

  1. With respect to "Without Prejudice" notations, I think this speaks to the trifling nature of these letters. If I am writing such a letter, and I expect it to carry any influence whatsoever, I will send it on a "With Prejudice" basis. This will express, to the trained legal professional, that I have every intention of of using the letter in the future as an exhibit in legal proceedings. However this only really works if the desist letter actually has a shred of merit. Maybe, if the situation warranted it, I would pull a page from Kevin O'Leary's book (Dragons Den Canada) and send the letter "With Extreme Prejudice".