Receivable/Accounts - Information for Credit and Collection Issues

Friday, January 22, 2021

Secrets In Collections IV – Not Everyone Likes Us

ere’s the other thing we don’t talk about, that we really should.  No one likes collectors. 

hen I’d be at a wedding, party, or what have you, people would ask me what I do for a living, and when I tell them, they’d tilt their head and give me that look … you know, “that’s so sad, I almost liked you but now I know you have no soul”.

f you go on to Twitter, do a search of “collection agency”, you’ll see the anger, the frustration and the hate leveled at our industry in general, and sometimes a creditor or collector in specific.

ow, folks in our industry have two ways of dealing with this – they either “toughen up” and don’t care, or they just turn a blind eye to it.  And that’s horrible.  We know there’s a problem, but we make it worse, or don’t do anything about it.  It's an open secret, collection people know they aren't liked, but heaven forbid they acknowledge it with a client, or even with a consumer, and meet the problem head on.

he important thing is to understand why people don’t like us, and diffuse or solve the problem.  Here’s some common issues.

You’re Harrassing Me!

It’s your first call, maybe your second.
  But it’s the 8th collection call that consumer received this week.  Multiple agencies are calling on multiple debts, and the consumer is being stressed and pushed to the edge.  They are reacting emotionally to your call, but it’s not just your call, and you need to be cognizant of that.

You’re A Horrible Person!

ell, maybe another collection agent they talked to was a horrible person.  Maybe an online article said that collection agents are a horrible person.  Maybe a lawyer or bankruptcy trustee told them that collection agents are horrible people … and maybe they’re right some of the time.  Our industry doesn’t necessarily have a scintillating reputation, but now is the time to prove them wrong.  Inject a little humanity, an ounce of humor and self-depreciation, and show you can be worked with.  But if they don’t believe, you, or hang up on you, or refuse to deal with you, realize sometimes it’s not anything you did.

You Bought This Paper For Pennies And You Are Oppressing Me!

This and many similar arguments are an extension of ‘you are a horrible person’.  It’s an emotional reaction to a debt, a subconscious lashing out, where our very existence is bad, not the fact the person over borrowed or got hit with some bad circumstances.  It would be a wonderful world if no one owed debt, but borrowing is embedded into our economy.  If everyone stopped paying their bills, telecommunication companies would go out of business, banks would close their doors, and no one could buy a car.  It’s a balancing act to be a responsible representative of a creditor and collect on legitimate debts, and educate consumers on the ramifications of not paying vs. appearing predatory.

 Star, Would Not Recommend!

So, you google any collection agency and look at their reviews, there are going to be emotional backlashes, because of the reasons above.  Even if the collection agent did everything right, was calm and cool and professional, a stressed consumer might interpret the call as nasty, predatory, vindictive, and horrible.  And they’ll say so on social media.

ow, you could ignore those reviews (and give them legitimacy by ignoring them, but that’s another article), or you could use it as a learning experience.  Respond to the consumer, let them know they were heard, take an honest look if you did something wrong.  If not, stick by your guns, but everyone deserves empathy and an open mind.

Be The Likeable Bad Guy

Acknowledge you aren’t liked.  Acknowledge that you have obstacles to overcome.  Get past that sad look at the party and convince the other person you are a decent person, and yes you still have a soul.  Talk intelligently about our business with some humility and empathy for the people we are calling.  And if people still don’t like you, realize that this is a big battle with decades of poor experiences and hard core, knuckle dragging goons in years gone by that have left an impression on our society that we must strive to overcome in the long run, and we can lose a battle but win the war.

ltimately, here’s how I like to think of it personally … In the 1993 Disney film, The Three Musketeers, Michael Wincott plays Captain Rochefort, a guy dressed in black working for the evil Cardinal.  But through the movie, you can see in him some humanity and humor, even as he goes about opposing the Musketeers.  Be like Rochefort, be the likable bad guy.


Want to make our industry a better place?  Drop me a line and let’s talk process, and emotional impact of debt.  Want to join people who feel the same way?  Think about having your company join the Receivables Management Association of Canada over at  But regardless, let’s keep the conversation going and understand why people don’t like us, so we can fix it.

hanks kindly,

lair DeMarco-Wettlaufer
INGSTON Data & Credit
ambridge, Ontario

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