This is a new one for me, because I’ve never had anyone need to sick the collection dogs on me in all my life. Either I’m not paying and someone can go to hell because I don’t rightly owe the money, or (99.9%) I’m paying promptly in full–or if I slip up, accepting responsibility and apologizing. (Well, why not, if it was my screwup?) So I do not know much about how it feels to have bill collectors call.
I do know that most of the people they’re after have probably defaulted on multiple debts. Sometimes it’s not their fault; our medical system is like a random fiscal meteorite shower, where a little bad luck can wreck your finances for life. But those who are said to owe, probably do owe, and I am sure that in a majority of cases they would just prefer not to pay that which they fairly owe. If the collecting were done by the party to whom the money was originally owed, I’d have more sympathy for the collecting side, but it’s their duty to get their facts right. Including the correct phone number.
As it is, a couple times a week, I get a robocall from a bill collection agency. Now, the first time, I could see that perhaps it was the former owner of the phone number. However, I don’t recognize the right to robocall anyone on such matters. Want to have a conversation? Call, introduce yourself by full name and organization, and tell me your business in a forthright manner. All civil. Mistaken identity? Glad to clarify. If they robocall me, they get nothing. Robocall me several times, and no matter what they do thereafter, they get nothing. I’m now collecting my own bill from them, and I feel free to determine that new debt is accrued each time they disturb me for any reason. I no longer wish to make nice. After all, I don’t have a problem. I don’t owe any past due bills. I don’t need to take ownership of their problem.
Got one today; saw the caller ID and got my game face on. These days, most companies have someone who speaks Spanish.
“Hello, may I speak to Mary Dublois?” (pronouncing it dew-BLOYZ)?
“Do you speak English?
“Je ne comprends pas.” (I don’t understand.)
“What language is that?”
“Qui est a l’appareil ?” (Who’s calling?)
“Is that Spanish?”
“Je ne vous comprends pas.” (I don’t understand you.)
“We’ll have someone call back who speaks Spanish.”
“Merde alors.” (Break a leg–my sarcastic way of saying ‘knock yourself out.’ Though the literal meaning, ‘shit, then’ would also work.)
When they call back, I will answer. But not in Spanish or French:
“?שלום. מי שמטלפן” (Hello. Who’s calling?)
They really should not robocall me. And if the excuse were that this was the most practical model for their business, my response is that this is the most practical model for my own business, and that their problem is not my problem, and that I decline to own or accommodate their problems, especially in view of the lack of consideration they show for mine.
I wish more people would stop letting institutions make the rules. That is part of what we have come to as a society. Companies made rules, acted on them to our detriment, and we accepted ‘that’s just our policy’ as a valid excuse. Me, I think I have as much right to make policy for myself as they do for themselves.
And mine is rigorously enforced.