I’m not quite sure how to categorize this post. It feels as though it should be a “rant” or a “complaint,” but I’m neither ranting or complaining! For ease of reference, I guess we’ll call it a rant anyway, Dear Reader, because we haven’t had a good rant in awhile;)
Creditors are a fact of life. For me, at least. And for many others, I’m certain, in this still-downturned economy. Due to the upbringing I received from my parents, I reached young adulthood with good values instilled in many areas. One thing I was taught was to pay my bills on time and to maintain a good credit rating. I believed that was important then and I still do today. Circumstances being what they are, however, good intentions don’t always pay the bills.
When, during my young adulthood, I was unable for the first time to pay a bill or two and I was (horrors!) turned over to a credit agency, it felt as though my life had gone to Hell in a handbasket. The laws related to collections were different at that time, and credit agencies tried many tactics that would never be permitted now. Add to that my youth when I received my first-ever collection-agency call, and the result was a puddle of mush.
I was reduced to tears on several occasions. I allowed the agents to waste my time telling me all manner of horrible things they would bring to bear if I didn’t pay the $18.21 or whatever huge amount they said I owed to their client. Never once did I consider that these stern “agents” (mostly men, at the time) probably were younger than I was and had so few job skills that the only job they could find was in collections — only one step above a bouncer in a bar.
Fortunately for me, this phase of my life did pass and I spent most of the rest of my adult, working life in good standing credit-wise. That all changed when I became unemployed, uninsured, and a cancer patient within less than a year’s time. My entire financial scheme-of-things suffered quite a reversal from which I probably won’t recover (until the novels I’m writing sky-rocket me into fame and fortune, that is).
Do I like not paying some of my bills? Nope. Do I enjoy paying others late? Nope. Has it been fun watching my credit rating plummet as rapidly as the Dow Jones did a couple of years ago? Hell no! But, what’s a girl to do? If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that crying over spilled milk doesn’t do any good. Nor does worrying.
As for my creditors, there’s a saying that goes, “Never argue with a pig. You’ll end up in the mud and you’ll annoy the pig.” I choose not to argue with my creditors. In fact, I choose not to speak to them except on rare occasions.
Here are the five fun ways I choose to deal with the most ignorant of my creditors:
1. Don’t answer the phone. This cancer journey I’m on requires that I sleep. A lot. Until I figured out the benefit of unplugging my phone, my sleep was interrupted by creditor calls a couple of times a week. Not any more! By the time I wake up and plug in my phone during mid-to-late morning, it’s beyond creditor calling time.
2. Caller ID is a wonderful invention! Use it to your advantage. One of my creditors — that should go down in the Creditor Hall of Fame for their persistence — must have call centers all over the US of A. Their calls show up on my Caller ID from cities and states where I know no one. If my phone is plugged in and I see an unrecognized city and state, I simply don’t answer the call.
The next three methods can be used for those times when you accidentally accept a call from a collection agency:
3. If you are offered the option for Spanish speakers (and you’re not Hispanic), take it! You’ll still get put on hold until one of their agents is ready to deal with you, but then you’ll be connected with a Spanish-speaking agent. Once connected, you need only say, “No comprendo!” They will hang up on you. I guarantee it.
4. Invent your own foreign language. That’s right, begin speaking in tongues. Give ’em an earful of gibberish. It doesn’t have to be a “real” foreign language. Be creative! Talking in “robot talk” works, too. Within less than three minutes, most agents will hang up.
5. Put your phone on speaker so you can continue doing whatever you were doing before the collection agent called. When, finally, a human comes on the line, let them start their spiel, but don’t say a word. The other evening, the agent continued repeating my first name for almost a minute. “Candice?” “Candice?” “CANDICE?” I managed to get around two hundred words written before he finally figured he’d been had and hung up.
I’m sure there must be other, more diabolical, ways to deal with ’em, but these are the methods that have served me the best. Some day, each and every entity to which I owe money will receive what is owed. In the meantime, I choose not to get muddy 😉