promoted 10 years 3 months ago, posted 10 years 3 months ago
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And you thought your job sucked...
Few jobs in history are as thankless and downright despicable as debt collecting. I mean, when you consider that more than half the time people simply can not legitimately pay their bills... your first stretch in the business can be trying to the heart strings. There's just something about hearing a 95 year old woman meekly mutter "Oh no, I don't wanna go to jail. I could give you a hundred dollars a month but I'm gonna have to cut my cable with that" that makes you shake your head and wonder Why the fuck am I doing this shit? Regardless... I will admit that it makes you a stronger speaker and allows you to shape the forum in which you speak. At this point you have home field advantage and all the best weapons. The most common question is "Is it worth it? Do you really enjoy what you do?" The answer is no and sometimes. While 90% of you will keep your arguments and debates for the internet, I get paid to do it for 8 hours a day over the phone... ever wonder why its so hard to get me to shut up? There's your answer... cause I get paid not to.
For you to even begin to fathom the thought process of a good debt collector, you need to know that we all follow the same three principle rules... all other things are pretty much optional:
1. Don't have a heart.
2. Everybody lies.
3. Remember, you don't have a heart and everybody lies.
Yup. It's like that. By the way, if you somehow think that being nice can also work... it can but 9 times out of 10 people will hate you anyway so you might as well give them a reason to. I've sunk as low as having peoples accounts frozen one week before Christmas and seen such great lengths gone as far as following a man with a truck and trailer full of store bound cargo to be levied in exchange for payment. If you thought debt collection was all about phone calls, you've never had a good debt collector grab your file.
The typical day consists of... oh... hundreds and hundreds of phone calls and a handful of face to face meetings. "This is Chris" I would usually mutter first... "GOOD MORNING CHRIS! How are you doing today?" is the most common greeting, overly cheerful as if your feigned glee to be speaking with me will garner you any special treatment. "... How can I help you ma'am?" Yeah. That's right. You don't get to find out how I'm doing today, that's just how I roll. "Well... uhh... I'm calling about-" insert blank name for blank debt here. "... Okay ma'am. Your balance is-" and right there I'm spouting off about how much she owes, what that amount is composed of, when the card was deactivated and every other piece of information available we can use to make you suspect that we already know your blood type. At this point I'm just waiting for you to give me a number of available dollars for me to spike up a bit and claim for the debt. This is, of course, best case scenario. Most often things get a whole lot more heated than this... we'll get back to that though. This is when pretty much fucking with your life (credit, bank accounts, wages, etc.) becomes our focal point.
The only way to earn some respect in debt collection is to hit little milestones along your way, these bragging rights are pretty much the only thing you got to show your worth debt collecting wise. Your first collection of 10K or more in one payment is probably the first of these (my highest collection to date was 38K, 1 payment) and everything else is just a miracle or damn fine detective/word work. If you ever find yourself possibly entering the field, know that most of the above is the only way you can expect any success. In fact, this is one of the few jobs where being a nice guy can get your ass fired. The timid crumble beneath the weight of what we call "professional debtors" and often times collections is a revolving door of employees, at the last firm I worked for I can say that at least 30 to 40 people were in out in my tenure. Maybe 10 were terminated due to something other than their collection skills.
To lighten the mood, we used to do our settlement offers over the phone in the form of classic TV gameshows or perform other assorted douchebaggery while dealing with a dead end debtor. A contributing line: "Sir... Sir... SIR. Look, the amounts not getting any lower and my patience isn't getting stronger. It's gonna be 2500 or nothing at all" and at this point the guys of course gonna just keep pushing me. "1900! I'm not paying legal fees! I already told you that!" ... Oh boy. "Alright sir... let's see... 1900 dollars. Survey says! ERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!"
He didn't pay that month. He didn't pay the following month either. In fact, he didn't pay until I had the court papers filed and he contacted me to see if he could play ball on that old deal, by then... that was not an option. Especially considering I kept notes detailing my game of Family Feud. 'nother example for you...
"I CAN'T PAY ANY MORE THAN 20 DOLLARS A MONTH! YOU BASTARDS DON'T KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE!" she yelled, really? Because I didn't talk to dozens of people a day with the same story? "Ma'am, if you can't come up with $50 a month to pay your debt then I'm confident you won't be coming up with $20 a month fo pay it. Besides... you don't even break interest." "YOU CAN'T SQUEEZE BLOOD OUT OF A FUCKING ROCK!" she countered, cute. "Well ma'am, I we certainly will try."
Did I mention we're the ones doing the clicking? Yes... a good debt collector will hang up on YOU before you ever hang up on him/her. I once overheard across the office, "Sir! It's 8000 or nothing at all! Deal or no deal? Si- s- SIR! DEAL OR NO DEAL!?! ... You know what? WRONG BRIEFCASE!"
Oh lulz. Oh, did I mention the disabled and wheelchair bound aren't excluded? Overheard from the same source above:
"Sir I don't care if you're a war veteran. You maxed out a 5000 dollar credit card and thought it was okay to not even pay your minimums? To run and hide? Well now you gotta go to court!" I assume the guy on the line is giving excuses as to how he won't or can't go... well shit... "SIR, I don't care if you have to roll your happy ass to court! But you're GOING! See you next month!"
This is not the limit to the sheer hilarity that can be encountered given the right circumstance, environment and management. All of the above examples are of people who ended up paying their debt in one way or another. Some people we never catch, ever tried to get something from someone who was a "crazy" bastard? Well try collecting from the clinically insane...
But that's another story for another time. There is so much to discuss and so little time to do it... if you guys find yourselves further interested in the topic or possibly want some pointers on getting even the absolute worst debt collect off your back or making yourself "collection proof", just leave your comments.
Til then, I'll just leave you a less than friendly voicemail