Debt Collectors - Shakedown artists?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by John Watson, Feb 25, 2005.

  1. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    I've just received a second notice from a New York state based outfit, requesting I pay an "outstanding" charge of $50 odd Canadian, for their client, a Music Club which I will leave nameless at present.

    The situation is highly galling. To my knowledge I have no unpaid accounts from the music club, whether from ordered or unordered shipments. Yes, I received three different unordered shipments from the club! The first got opened because I thought it was something I had ordered and was expecting. But I returned it. Two more shipments were returned unopened.

    The last one returned was even ship-dated a day subsequent to the day I phoned in my immediate cancellation of membership (last October)

    My cancellation was due to general dissatisfaction with the music club, and unordered shipments were part of the reason.

    Anyway, several months later this Debt Collector wrote (their letter received by me 18 January 2005), and said they were working for the music club, and that I must either pay the amount or contest the charge. Within a day, I was in phone contact with the music club, went over the history of this problem, and as of January 20th, was told that the account balance had been adjusted to be $0.

    I wrote to this Debt Collector on January 20th to inform him of this, and closed with, "trusting this matter is closed"

    Now, a month later, this Debt Collector has written to say that since they did not hear from me, I obviously owe the money, please send it...[​IMG]

    Is this just a petty shake-down?

    If I just ignore him, will this go away?

    Is there any Public Agency that regulates this industry in NY?
     
  2. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    John,

    These people are the scum of the scum... Here's what to do:

    Send a registered, return-receipt (so you know they got it, and they know you know they got it) cease and desist letter stating the following:

    1.) Tell them you do not owe the money, and have absolutely no intention of paying it.

    2.) Tell them that you do NOT want them to contact you again about this debt, and you are aware that they are required to comply with this request under federal law. The law is Public Law 95-109, Section 805-C, known as The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    3.) Tell them that if you discover that this has affected your credit report, you will treat the information as inaccurate and will pursue them for filing false credit information about you.

    4.) Failure to follow your requests WILL result in charges filed against them with the state and federal regulatory agencies empowered with enforcement.

    5.) Ask -- no, tell -- them to give this matter the attention it deserves and to immediately comply with your requests.
     
  3. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Thanks Matt.

    Some great info! I will definitely opt for a registered letter this time, tho that will put my costs of photocopying, postage, etc to around $10 (plus time checking my records, etc).

    Pretty irritating for a purported $50, but I wonder if that's how they make some of their money, by intimidation and wearing people down...

    I'm not too sure about threatening to pursue them from another country tho. Would organizations like this have any credibility with Credit Record agencies?
     
  4. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    Yes, you could still report them to the agencies in their state & their country. And you are exactly right, they will stop at nothing to get whatever they can from people. You wouldn't believe some of the stories I've heard...
     
  5. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Is this valid for a guy in Canada?
     
  6. Matt Gordon

    Matt Gordon Supporting Actor

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    I think that because the company is in the US, they still have to play by US rules, no matter where the "client" is.
     
  7. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    That's some awesome advice Matt - regardless of what country you live in. AOL is famous for these kinds of tactics, you cancel the accout but they don't really cancel it.
     
  8. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    Unless this was one of those deals where you agreed to buy a certain amount of product by a certain date and then failed to do so.
    Then what they are doing is getting the money owed to complete the contract and will send you certificates for the amount that you can use to purchase the product later.
     
  9. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I think there is a little bit more to this. When a company has an uncollected debt turned over to a collection agency, they write it off (or a percentage of it), so your account with them will be zero.

    Not so with the collection agency. They'll continue until they have proof that it is not your debt. I'd ask them to send to you YOUR orders for the items in question. This would supposedly show that you did order them.

    Assuming that the music company isn't crooked, they're going to have a hard time doing that, and should promptly shut them up.. but I'd consider sending them that letter anyway.

    Glenn
     
  10. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Lead Actor

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  11. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Thanks for all the inputs guys. I have contacted the Music Club again (no, not Columbia[​IMG]) and confirmed the $0 balance. Their Customer Service rep said I didn't need to respond to the last collection agency letter.

    But based on Glenn's suggestion I am doing so anyway, using most of the points recommended by Matt.

    BTW, I thought most of these record and book clubs had long ago abandoned the business model that involved sending merchandise that customers had not explicitly ordered?
     
  12. John Watson

    John Watson Screenwriter

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    Hilarious PS

    the day after the last letter from the collection agency, an invitation came from the unnamed Music Club to (re)join them.

    the address they used for me appears to be identical to that from my previous membership.

    This world gets stupider every year [​IMG]
     
  13. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    John, would you mind PMing me the name of the music club? I'm currently in business with one, and I want to know if I should expect what you're going through.
     

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