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Bill Collector Story

Updated on May 7, 2011

Collection Agency

Debt Collector Crank Call - Language

When I was younger I was very adamant about keeping my bills straight and making sure that I paid my bills early or on time. This was truly important to me and somewhat consumed me at times. I am certain it was what my parents had always taught me. You pay your bills when you get them and always keep on top of your bills. I still believe that this is true today. However I am not as adamant about doing this as I used to be and this stems from a personal experience that I had with a bill collector that I will truly never forget. This experience helped me in my personal life as well as my professional life when part of my job function for the phone company dealt with collections.

This event that I am talking about happened during the time that I was marrying my husband. Before my husband and I got married we made a budget on the things that we wanted to do and needed to do especially for our wedding and honeymoon. We had saved up money for the trip and had one credit card at the time that we were using for any additional expenses.

When we got back home from our honeymoon there were several messages on our phone most of which were from well wishers and thank you messages. But a few of them were from a credit card company. After listening to the first message I thought they were trying to sell me something however after the second message I thought something was strange. Then I asked my husband which credit card he had been using. It was my American Express card that I had since college and only used to get really inexpensive airline trips when they had specials or “hooks”. I had not used the card in years and at the time any balance on your American Express card had to be paid in full that month and also at that time you could not transfer over balances from one credit card to another. At the moment that I figured out what had happened I think that all the blood had rushed from my face and I felt faint and sick. The enormity of what was going on was a bit overwhelming as my new husband was completely oblivious to what had just happened. I explained to him our dilemma in detail. Basically we had charged up a large sum on a credit card that had to be paid in full at that given moment. I was freaking out but my husband said calmly, “Oh well there are two options here either pay the whole bill or ask for arrangements nothing more you can do after all it was an honest mistake.” Somehow I did not think that the credit card company would think that way but I agreed because truly there was not anything else we could do at the time. I settled on telling the company that we would cancel the card and make payment arrangements on the total due, having the bill paid in 3 months. I knew that this was not going to be easy for me to do. I was completely used to taking care of everything as it happened and in this instance I was completely out of control and had no idea what would happen. We decided that we would call the company first thing in the morning and started to settle into our usual routine by unpacking and getting ready for work for the following week.

As we finished with the last bit of unpacking we were trying to decide what we would do for dinner, the phone rang. My husband answered the phone and after a moment handed it over to me. It was a bill collector from the American Express company, Landon to be exact (funny how I can still remember his name to this day). Landon seemed very pleasant at first and I was certain from his tone that everything would be ok. That was the furthest thing from the truth. I explained to Landon the situation and how we made a huge error but wanted to rectify the situation. I told Landon our game plan. Landon was not buying it and it showed in his tone. I was still rather naïve at the time when I think back. And I was sure the things that Landon was telling me were true. Landon told me that it was my responsibility to pay this bill, I agreed completely and told him that I was going to do just that and that I was more than happy to have them close my account while I paid. Landon suggested that if I could not handle paying the bill in full that I should consider filing for bankruptcy since my credit was going to be ruined by this little incident. For some reason I stuck to my guns, I believe it was because my husband had actually spelled it out for me and I understood that there were really only a few possibilities. So Landon’s threats were really not working on me. I was still somewhat scared though. I have a feeling it had to do with his booming voice and that he was incredibly threatening. I, however, remained very calm and rational about the situation. After a few moments of going back and fourth with Landon threatening me and me sticking to my guns of having the card cancelled and paying the total off in three months, Landon asked if he could put me on hold for a moment. (Bad move Landon.) I agreed and waited patiently. I was going to use the hold time to explain to my new hubby what was going on but that hold time would become extremely important to me.

Landon clicked the hold button on the phone I could hear it clearly, however, instead of clicking it once he clicked it twice taking the hold off and I could hear EVERYTHING that was being said. I listened intently. Landon was talking to his supervisor asking for help and advice. Landon told his boss, “I have her just where I want her, she is scared. I told her she should file for bankruptcy, I think that got her.” Landon’s boss gave him a few things to say to me when he got back on the phone and also told him to keep me on hold just a little bit longer. I was floored by hearing all of this and I think my husband was confused because all of a sudden I had a HUGE smile on my face. I knew exactly what I was going to say to Landon when he came back on the line. A few moments went by and I could hear the repeated clicking of the phone again, I really think at this moment Landon knew that he had not actually put me on hold but I said nothing and let him talk. “Mrs. J thanks for waiting so patiently, I have reviewed your account and talked to my manager there is nothing we can do, we need that payment in full immediately. So when can you pay this bill?” I smiled as I said back, “Well Landon, you have me right where you want me. Why don’t you tell me what I should do?” There was complete and total silence on the other end. “Landon? Are you still there?” No response I think he might have been speechless; shock will do that to a person. So I continued, “Landon I am going to assume from your silence that my arrangements are good with you and the company, I appreciate your help have a nice day.” I hung up the phone and never had a problem with the company again. I was also able to keep my card which I still only used occasionally and kept it far away from my husband.

From that moment on I have had a different view on bills and bill collectors. This view that I developed helped me to be a successful collector. Although I still like to pay my bills on time or ahead sometimes that is just not possible. Things happen. And when they do I think back to Landon and remember to How to Deal with Bill Collectors, how to be respectful, how to stick to my guns and to not be threatened even by the evilest collector.


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    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 6 years ago from West Coast

      Haven't we all :)! Thanks for your comments!!

    • profile image

      vinsanity 6 years ago

      I've had a couple run ins with the bill collector...

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Tom - Thank you! It felt rather easy and natural to do!

      LM - No kidding he was not the sharpest tool in the shed that is for sure. I used to get worked up too but now I have fun whether its a telemarketer or a bill collector.

      Yeah my hubby is a nut in most areas. lol

    • Laughing Mom profile image

      Laughing Mom 8 years ago

      Man did you ever luck out getting someone with such moronic tendencies on the line. And you were smart to know how to use it to your advantage. I tend to get too riled up when I'm speaking with such people.

      Great story, TM!  Your hubby sounds very put-together.  Well, except for the library book thing.  :-)

    • Tom Cornett profile image

      Tom Cornett 8 years ago from Ohio

      I love handled it perfectly! :)

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Yes some of those bill collectors are simply out of control and power hungry. I have heard some crazy stories about them.

    • Honorebel profile image

      Honorebel 8 years ago from Southern California

      wow what a story darn bill collectors

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Cris - Please do quote me. I would love it. Smiling works great too and usually frustrates the collector.

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 8 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Could I quote you the next time the bill collector calls. And oh, I'd borrow that smile, too!

      You sure did kick butt TM! Woohoo! :D

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you BC. I love kicking butt!!

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 8 years ago from West Coast

      Thank you Lovezan

      GG - Good luck with those hospital bills, you should check and see if they can write some of them off if you haven't already.  Its worth asking because the worse they can say is no.

      MM - Thank you.  Yes I learned a good lesson that day.  I am sure Landon did get it! 

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 8 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      I love it when the good guy (or good mom!) wins. This story is priceless. We are so trained to feel intimidated and cowed by "authority." But there is ALWAYS room for negotiation.

      I hope Landon got what was coming to him:-).

    • GiftedGrandma profile image

      GiftedGrandma 8 years ago from USA

      Great hub...all bills should be handled in the same way when necessary. Honest people will arrange to pay when hard times come to them. We are currently paying about twelve different medical bills from my hospital stays in 2008.