Thursday, April 21, 2011

Lee Vs. the Debt Collector

In Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1931, pitcher Jackie Mitchell struck out the great Babe Ruth in an exhibition game. Of course, Babe Ruth struck out plenty of times over his career. What makes this particular incident so notable is the fact that Jackie Mitchell was a 17 year old girl.

Every now and then things happen that confuse us. We shake our heads, certain we're being fooled. Certain that what we're hearing or seeing must be a joke. Something happened to me a few weeks ago that's been nagging at me. I'm still so blown away by it that I have to share it. So there will be no tips or facts or legal updates or anything of that nature today, and I could care less about SEO in this post. Today I'm just going to recount my bizarre experience with a nice collection agency.

Other People's Mail 

I get other people's mail every day
My house, for some reason, attracts a lot of weird mail for people who don't live here. This house is only five years old and had one previous owner – none of the mail is for him. Go figure. On a regular basis I receive someone else's magazine subscription (which would rock if it wasn't some hunting mag) and a whole slew of collection letters. I love the collection letters. Yes, its illegal to open them. Yes, I do it anyway.

On several previous occasions I've considered "taking care of the problem" for these strangers as a gesture of kindness, but as my girlfriend so lovingly pointed out, the recipients of my good deed might just find something to sue me for. Then I might have to kill 'em. Last I checked, murder is a bigger offense than opening someone else's mail. So I'll stick to opening other people's mail.

On the day in question, I'd received a collection letter to a man I'll call Joe Dirt. I'd use his real name (because I have no shame) but I can neither pronounce nor spell it and that would muck up my story. So Joe Dirt it is.

This was the third day in a row that I'd gotten a collection letter for this guy. The violations in this letter were delicious. Normally I'd shake my head and put it through the shredder, but I'd had a particularly bad day and needed to take out my aggression on something. What better target that a debt collector? Little did I know that the woman I was about to speak with would suck the wind right out of my sails and leave me speechless against a debt collector for the first time in my career.

The Conversation

So I called, went through the litany of "Please enter your account number" blah blah and finally got a collector on the line. The conversation went something like this:

Collector: _____ Collections, can I please have your account number?

Me: I don't have an account number. I'm calling because of a letter I received. 

Collector: Oh, well please give me the account number listed on the letter, sir. 

Me: 5555555

Collector: Ok......I see. Mr. Joe Dirt? Correct?

Me: No. Not correct. My name is Lee Edwards. No one by the name of Joe Dirt lives here. I keep getting mail for him, but I've lived here almost since the house has been built. There was one previous owner and his name wasn't Joe Dirt. I have no idea how you got this address, but its the wrong one. 

This is the point where she's supposed to start accusing me, refuse to stop sending mail, call me a deadbeat trying to get out of my bills, threaten to report me to the feds for opening mail that's not mine, etc. 

Collector: Oh no! Oh, Mr. Edwards I'm so sorry! I wish I could tell you how we ended up with your address but I honestly don't know. It just showed up in the computer. I'll take care of that right now.

Me: You.....you will?

Collector: Yes. You don't have to worry about hearing from us again. And thank you for calling and letting us know about Mr. Dirt. No wonder he hasn't paid! The poor guy hasn't been getting our letters! 

Me:......

Collector: Don't worry Mr. Edwards, it's all taken care of. Thank you for letting us know, and you have a great day!

Me:.....you too...

Yes, that actually happened. I hung up the phone feeling like....well, like I'd gotten beaten. I was all geared up for a raging battle and I had to go and encounter the nice debt collector. I feel like I'm trying to tell the world I got abducted by aliens. In my industry, this sort of thing is almost unbelievable.

I know their computer systems record your telephone number when you call in, and a part of me was hoping that I'd start receiving phone calls for Joe Dirt but alas, no such calls ever occurred. Oh, and the collection letters immediately stopped.

What is this world coming to when the best customer service I've gotten from anywhere in months was from a collection agency?

1 comment:

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