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Qwest customer circus

Have I mentioned that I definitely do NOT like collection agencies?

Let me back up a bit.

About 3 months ago, Qwest did a really bizarre thing. They split the telephone bill into two parts, so the telephone service is separate from the "extras" like call waiting. They didn't let us know that, they just did it with no explanation. So we get two different phone bills for one line. We pay one in full. The next one comes, showing a balance, which is weird, but checks crossed in the mail, etc. The next bill comes, paid in full, etc.
This gets confusing when I get a call that we haven't paid the balance, and it's about to go into collection, when a call to the Qwest collections automated thingy shows paid in full. After much runaround, I finally get a person who tells me about the bill split. I let him know that I can't pay the secondary services bill right now because of unemployment, but I'll be able to pay in a couple of months.
Cut to Feb. 15th. A telephone call from a collection agency called OSI. Really obnoxious and harassing-- Barb handled the call. I just heard her half of the conversation; it was amazing. I've never had a harassing call like that.
Until a week later, Feb 22nd. Same lady calling from OSI. I got the call this time, and I was stunned with the obnoxiousness of the lady. After a few minutes of verbal tennis and accusations, I was finally able to talk to her about the financial situation, that the bill was weird from Qwest, and that a payment plan was in place. We actually ended on a good note, as it seemed like she understood and was willing to accept the terms.
This morning I got another call. Same collection agency, different person, a guy this time. He started off telling me about the collection and that it was for Qwest, and I told him that I had already made arrangements with a previous person. He accused me of lying because they do not accept terms that far out, and that he had a log of my phone calls and I had not had a call since the 15th, and that I had to pay today, "or else". I explained to him that I did not dispute the debt, that payment today was impossible, that I had a payment plan in place with payment in full to be mailed on May 2nd.
This was totally unacceptable to him. He told me that I needed to find a way to borrow the money or sell things or do whatever was necessary to make a payment today. I told him that he could spend the rest of the day trying to cajole me into paying, but it was not a matter of not wanting to pay, it was a matter of inability to pay.
He put me on hold.
I then got connected with his supervisor.
This guy made the first guy look like a Wal-Mart greeter. After a few minutes of what I would consider harassment (how they were not a lending agency, that his client was more important than my petty problems, and threats of "further action" if I didn't pay today), he gave me an ultimatum: if I didn't have payment in full on his desk by the time he went home tonight, I'd better get a lawyer. I told him that he didn't have to wait, that I would not be able to get him payment today at all, that the payment would be made at the earliest date of May 2nd. He hung up.

A very fine line-- he did not actually threaten legal action. Legal action would be silly anyway, as the debt is something like $80.00 and we have a specific payment schedule. And the payment date is earlier than a court date could appear anyway.

In a way, it's interesting. Their methods are meant to intimidate and threaten people into paying, but I am truly unable to pay at this point, so the intimidation doesn't work. I think it frustrates them.

However, it has made me dust off an old portable cassette recorder and fix it up with a phone momitor so I can record the phone calls from now on.
I suspect that this was not the last one.


Other than that, I set up the fax/modem today to help do some remote troubleshooting for a friend tonight. Should be interesting.

Jobhunt update:
Nothing. No phone interview today as there was supposed to be.

Mystery Meat of the Day:


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 7th, 2003 02:46 pm (UTC)
Despite all its other problems, Qwest has traditionally understood the benefit of negotiating payment terms with its customers, over pissing them off to the point of cancelling their services. A little money is better than none.

I'm also startled at the tactics used by the collection agency. I'd suggest making a Better Business Bureau complaint with the state Attorney General's office. They love to hear stuff like this.
Mar. 7th, 2003 03:13 pm (UTC)
I have some other problems with Qwest, primarily with DSL and the lack of technical knowledge on the part of certain people trying to answer questions.

I have no problem paying the bill, it's just a matter of timing. Qwest has been at least polite on the phone, if a little clueless. I think it's just policy for them.

OSI is another story. I looked up their BBB report, and it's enlightening.

I think if they continue to call, I'll simply record them. Turns out that when an agency is calling to collect a debt, you do not have to let them know they are being recorded, and having a recording of the conversations is a wonderful thing when it comes to making complaints.

I can afford to be patient. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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