When Logic Meets Ridiculous

When you’ve dealt with bill collectors for as long as I have, you eventually run across just about every collection scenario in the business. In one such scenario I received a call from a collection agent who was for the most part very nice and surprisingly a perfect gentleman throughout the entire conversation. The conversation went pretty much like this:

The collection agent tells me that my visa account was in collections and in order to settle the account, it would cost me just over $1000.00. I informed him that the credit card limit was only $300.00 and that I would be willing to pay the $300.00 to settle the account, as I was trying to clean up my credit.

He then informs me that the extra $700 was due to collection fees and interest. I remained calm as to not escalate the situation and kindly informed him again that I would gladly pay the $300 past due amount but there was no way that I was going to pay back an extra $700 in interest and fees…not in this life or any other for that matter. I never heard from him again.

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Repeated calls from bill collectors

Repeated bill collector calls are intended to embarrass you into paying back a debt. The embarrassment comes from calling your employer, friends and family members. By applying enough pressure, debt collectors are betting that you’ll pay a debt that you may or may not even owe, rather than deal with potential embarrassment…especially at your job.

I guess I’ve just been lucky in that I’ve always had jobs where I was virtually untouchable at work. A debt collector would either reach a switchboard operator who would never transfer calls or I had my own extension where I could easily differentiate calls from client’s vs debt collectors with a simple glance at the caller ID.

By now, my family knows my feeling on debt collection calls and have long stopped bothering to pass on messages from bill collectors. To my surprise, they didn’t even flinch when a debt collector threatened to serve me a summons at their home the next day between the hours of 3 and 5 pm. Did they ever show up? Of course not. They never do.

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Debt and Depression

If you’ve ever suffered from depression in your life, then you might be familiar with the term “depression shopping”. Depression shopping is when you shop for random items, usually for yourself, in order to elevate your mood if only for a few days.

Depression shopping gives the individual a high, the equivalent of what could be gained by drinking alcohol or indulging in some other kind of drug. People who’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder share some of these same characteristics.

Riding an emotional roller coaster, some days they feel great joy and happiness while other days finding themselves suffering from great sadness. Depression shopping often leads to the accumulation of debt that eventually goes unpaid. Before you know it, debt collectors are ringing your phone non-stop.

I want to make it perfectly clear that I didn’t write this article to make excuses for people who don’t pay their debts. I merely wanted to raise the point that it’s a possibility. Clinical depression is very real and should always be taken seriously, as one never knows what a person is going through inside their head.

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Capitol One Credit Card Offers

About 7 months ago I spoke with a friend of mine who received a Capitol One credit card offer in the mail and since he knew that credit and finance was my expertise, he asked me if he should accept the pre-approved offer with a $300 credit limit.

Having had a Capitol One card in the past, I was very suspicious and cautious in recommending that he take them up on their offer but in the end, I relented and told him that although the interest rate was a bit high, it seemed like a fairly good deal as far as poor credit card offers are concerned.

Well, to make a long story short, he ended up accepting the offer and for seven months straight he paid the entire balance in full and never paid a cent of interest. Today, my friend informed me that Capitol One had raised his credit limit from $300 to $2300! Now that’s what I call a great return on investment! 

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When Bill Collectors Call Me...

I don’t get angry or upset like most people do. In fact, I actually welcome the calls because at this point in my life I just find them to be a great source of entertainment. When bill collectors call me I listen to each and every voice-mail in its entirety... the more outrageous the call, the better!

I don't know how many times they've threatened to send a courier to my home or place of employment with a summons if I didn't call back right away. So far, it’s been going on 3 years and no one has ever shown up at my home or workplace.

So, the next time someone calls and says you're going to be served the next day, just tell them “OK, I’ll see you tomorrow!” I promise that will be the last you’ll hear of it until they sell your debt to someone else and the threats start all over again.

As for myself, when I get those calls I let them go straight to voice-mail so that I can download them to my computer using Google voice, then upload the audio to my blog so that others can hear these outrageous calls and know there's nothing to be afraid of.

So you see, while they’re making a mockery of the crap-hole industry they work in, I’m sitting back in front of my computer with a glass of wine making a mockery out of them by exposing all their dirty little secrets to the public for all the world to see. If I were a bill collector, I’d hate me too!

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First Interstate Credit Card Offers

While watching TV on my day off, I hear the loud thump of junk mail hitting the floor as the mailman jams it through the mail slot. One piece of said junk mail had a firmness to it which typically indicates a credit card offer. I open up the letter and sure enough…it was an offer from First Interstate Bank.

That is, if you want to call it an offer. The letter said that I was pre-approved for a $400 credit limit. Not bad, I thought. Then I looked for the “gotcha” and it didn’t take long to find it. The interest rate was a whopping 36%!!! If that wasn’t bad enough, it came bundled with a $99 a year fee just for the privilege of being able to carry the card around and say you have one.

They call themselves lightening the load by allowing you the ability to break the $99 up into 12 equal payments of just $8.25 per month!!! Having had previous experience with another First Interstate Visa with an interest rate hovering around 24% and a similar fee structure, I was quite familiar with the term “being raked over the coals”.

If I had any balance at all, my monthly payment along with the $8.25 monthly maintenance fee left very little cash being applied to the cards principle. I paid on that card for nearly a year and the money I poured into it each month could barely be noticed. Just imagine that same scenario at 36% APR!!!

Even with a zero balance, the maintenance fee made it nearly impossible to pay the card off for more than 30 days at a time before the next fee was due. God forbid you’re ever late because then you’d be hit with a $35 fee for making a late payment on a payment that you should never have had to pay in the first place!

Who wants to bust their rear end to pay a credit card off so they can finally reach a zero balance only to continue having to make a payment each month? It makes no sense. If this isn’t a pure case of predatory lending then I’ve never seen one. I tossed that offer right In the trash.

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Defaulted Payday Loans

If you've ever defaulted on a payday loan, then chances are you've received more than a few phone calls threatening lawsuits and arrest warrants like the ones you’ll hear on my blogs audio player. Needless to say, they're just scare tactics.

I've received over a hundred such calls over the years and I've never had a single courier serve me a summons at my home or place of employment like they are so famous for threatening people with. Furthermore, if they were going to have me served they would never give me advanced notice.

These ridiculous threats are intended to do one thing and one thing only...scare the debtor into making a payment. I have nothing against a person trying to make a living. Believe it or not, debt collectors do serve a purpose. My only issue is the way in which they go about collecting the debt. 

Having said that, defaulting on a payday loan may be an issue of morality, but it’s certainly not illegal. I’m sure we all had intentions of paying the loan back when we borrowed the money but the reality is, sometimes *hit just happens! 

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