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Love letters to debt collectors -- really!

Most people dread talking to debt collectors, and with good reason. But some consumers are treated with respect and have good experiences. Here are their stories.

By Jun 20, 2013 11:31AM

This post comes from Gerri Detweiler at partner site logoMost people dread talking to debt collectors. But not Trish McCloskey Jacques. She found herself looking forward to the monthly collection calls reminding her that her payments were due.

Woman writing in check book © Bruce Laurance/Digital Vision/Getty ImagesTrish had married her high school sweetheart, Joseph Jacques. Right before Christmas in 2009, though, she almost lost him to a lung pyemia, a condition that developed after he was hospitalized for pneumonia. They spent their holidays in the hospital, not knowing if he would pull through. “He probably should not be alive,” she says. As her husband struggled for his life, Trish devoted herself to his care.

“We had to live off our 401k,” she explains. “When the bills started rolling in, I was terrified. I hated looking at that stuff. “

Although Trish made payment arrangements for the medical bills that weren’t covered by insurance, one bill wound up in collections. That’s when she heard from Sally, a collector with Cadillac Accounts Receivables Management (CARM) in Michigan.

Sally helped Trish set up a payment plan. “It wasn’t a big amount that I was paying, but she was totally, completely understanding,” she says. “You need people like that when you are downtrodden because they care.” When she made her final payment, she sent a letter to the collection agency complimenting Sally on her professionalism:
Sally was ALWAYS, cheerful, helpful, prompt, understanding and outstanding in her compassion . . . thank you very much this has been a long road and quite an ordeal…I believe that God gives you what you need when you need it . . . thank you for your outstanding professionalism…and happy Thanksgiving as we have much to be thankful for!
The stories about debt collectors you don't hear
While there are plenty of stories about aggressive debt collectors, the stories of consumers who have positive experiences with collectors often go untold. And this collection agency, at least, seems to have no shortage of them.

Judy Darling also had nothing but good things to say about CARM -- and Sally. She’s had ongoing medical bills that have been placed in collections. “The first time I talked with Sally I felt really comfortable with her,” she says. “She’s very accommodating.” Judy was able to set up a payment plan, but has had to modify it from time to time when her hours at work were cut back, for example. “If I can’t make a payment, I call her and she helps me change it,” she explains.

Another time, Judy’s mother fell down a flight of stairs, and she had to miss a couple of payments while she was helping to take care of her mother. “Sally went through that with me,” she says. “I’ve actually thought about going and meeting her when I am up that way.”
Treating consumers with respect can pay off
Rick Wiergowski is another member of the CARM fan club. He has been through two divorces and has had multiple bills sent to collections. “A lot of places wouldn’t work with me,” he says. But collector Danielle accepted the $25 a month he offered, and now calls him each month on the day he receives his Social Security payment to collect that amount.

Some other collectors he has tried to work with haven’t been as flexible, he says. “I wanted to take care of one bill (with a different agency), and I wanted to pay $50 and they said I could only pay $150. I couldn’t pay it, so they didn’t get paid.” He adds that if everyone operated the way CARM does, “a whole lot more money would get paid.”

CARM primarily collects medical debt, says Jon Dracht, president and CEO. “We have a very close-knit group that work really well together. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on the way our customers are treated -- not just our clients but the folks they refer to us to collect from.”
The economy in Michigan has been hit particularly hard by the recession, and, as a result, he observes, many families are struggling to keep food on the table, pay the rent and mortgage and put gas in the car.

“The key is we’re going to work with them,” he says. That may mean his firm -- and his clients -- may wait a little while for a bill to be paid off, but he says it’s the right way to do business. “What we find is that when we treat people with respect, when their situation does change, we are the first one they pay off.”

That's what happened with Judy. When her hours at work increased, she sent more money to the collection agency.

More from
I think collection agencies would get more of their money back if they worked WITH people rather than beat them over the head with threats and such.  You get more with honey than vinegar.  This particular agency got it right.
Jun 20, 2013 3:43PM
Delinquent debtors provide debt collectors a job.
However, they should not waste time on the small stuff.
If they want to collect debt they should start in Washington, D.C.
That should keep them busy for awhile and they can leave the rest of us alone.

Jun 20, 2013 2:12PM
Collections work is very hard on the employee. I did it for two years with a company and it took quite a toll on me emotionally. I tried very hard to be like the collectors mentioned in this story, but unfortunately my employer didn't appreciate it and I got fired for not bringing in the money quick enough. I went back to working in accounts payable so I could be the one on the end listening to the collections calls and telling them "I already paid that... check your records"
Jun 20, 2013 1:00PM
I wonder who is going to be the first A-hole to bring the, you shouldn't have taken a mortgage you couldn't afford, you should start your own business, get off your azz and find a job.  Haha, doubt we will hear from them now.
Jun 20, 2013 5:07PM
I'm the debt collector for my own company.  If people would talk with me and set up any size of regular payment they'd never hear from me again.  Unfortunately most don't.  I would be ashamed if I dodged my obligations like a lot of supposed adults.  The collector isn't always the bad guy.   
Jun 20, 2013 3:05PM

When bill collectors call looking for me, I tell them," I am just watching the house, the person you are looking for is on vacation in Europe, and will be back in a few months"


This works real well for a good laugh.

Jun 20, 2013 2:41PM
This verifies what I have been thinking for some time!  Here is a direct quote:..."CARM primarily collects medical debt, says Jon Dracht, president and CEO..." There it is!!!!  The medical industry is here not to cure you, but to drain you of any money you can beg, borrow or steal.  The medical establishment is so busy "doing procedures" they don't even waste time trying to get your money. They turn that over to someone who can't write prescriptions or "do procedures." The insurance scams are abundant!  I just mailed back an 'offer" today in a "no postage required" envelope to an inshawance company with a few "free offers" inside.  I would love to see the FDA(Future Destruction of America, here today) shut down along with all the "ask your doctor" ads on the "ask your doctor" boxes.
Jun 20, 2013 4:49PM
Here's a response from a debt collector.  I've been in the business for 30 plus years.  My first job was with Household Finance where I received my indoctrination. The one thing that was hammered into all of us was to be courteous, resolve the problem in a professional manner, we were never allowed to yell or curse or belittle, which was pretty dang hard to do at times.  Throughout the years and in my own business now, I've carried that philosophy with me and it has paid off a hundred fold.  For all the past due debtors out there, rememeber, the past due bill is YOUR problem, don't take your issues out in people who are trying to resolve YOUR debt.  Along with that, don't tolerate anyone yelling or harrassing you or cursing you out.  If you can;'t make your payment, YOU pick up the phone and call the collector.  If you don't pay or ignore the problem, chances are you will get sued and you will have your assets taken away from you and sold and I can tell you once the Sheriff shows up it's too late and all the crying and begging is not going to hel you.  Debt collection is a two way street, it takes two parties to make it work or only one to make your life miserable.
Jun 20, 2013 4:08PM
Tell them what I have told them. I did not hire you the hospital did, you can negotiate with them since there the only ones going to receive any money from me. They told me "huh you think so I will put a lean on your house" This really cracked me up as I told them "this house has been in the family since 1952 and will always be in the family, you and your kids will die before you get a penny from me" Must of worked they stopped calling. I did pay the hospital all that was owed.
Jun 20, 2013 7:38PM

Debt collectors put $350.00 back into each and everyones pocket in this country per year.  That's because of the money the pump back into the economy that keeps your rates down.  Deadbeats who hate when someone tries to get them to pay their bill are no better than crackheads who hate cops.


Whose side are you on?  Take responsibility for your actions, and be adults, people.  Your doctors, lawyers, and every other business in the world are screwing you over worse than those trying to get you to do what you committed to.

Jun 21, 2013 8:55AM
When I was young, I did collections for a clothing retailer.  I knew I really had no leverage since in many cases, their credit was already shot so I worked with the customers and treated them with respect.  I had a higher rate of collections than many people senior to me.  I also have no tolerance now for threatening so many cases it's counterproductive.
Jun 20, 2013 6:15PM
This article trying to humanize debt collectors must have been written by debt collectors.

A bigger group of scum of the earth sub-humans do not exist on this earth, and anyone who believes different is on drugs.

I have been privy to debt collectors (as a phone serviceman) and have heard all of the things they say on the phone, and off, to the debtors, and to each other.

Their soul purpose is to make money. and if they destroy families, or lives, on the way, they are more likely to brag about it, than be sorry for it.

The best thing you can do about debt collectors is DON'T-ANSWER or  HANG-UP, if you do that
 they will not be able to do anything to you. 
Jun 20, 2013 10:00PM
The kind thoughtful considerate debt collector called every month on the day the man's Social Security came in to collect her $25. How nice of her.
Jun 20, 2013 5:29PM
Only seeing FRAUD...not a dirty 4-letter word but something created by people inside the banking institutions and then these crooks are connected to the Credit Reporting Companies which are then connected to some other crooks that end up turning it into the dirty 4-letter word.  It looks like a bunch of "Crooked" Connections to me.
Jun 20, 2013 4:01PM
...I think more people would have better experiences with debt collectors - if they didn't borrow money!
Jun 21, 2013 9:18AM
I have done debt collection as well, for an apartment site I worked at.  I was fair, but firm and stuck to the lease agreement the renter signed.  Now, all I see is credit card debt and that is totally different.  A card that started out with a $2,000.00 balance at 9% rapidly turns into $10,000.00 at 29.99% and the credit card company can never explain where the 29.99% interest rate came from.  It is impossible to pay this off - and sending "something" every month just means you will be in debt for the rest of your life, paying far more than the $10,000.00.  Every credit card debt collector that I have spoken to did not want a resolution to pay the debt off.  They wanted to hook the individual into staying in debt for the rest of their life.  Just try and question the debt.  They will wait until your local small claims court accepts larger claims and then they put a Summons on your door.
Jun 21, 2013 2:02AM
Jun 20, 2013 5:22PM
If you are in debt over your head (unsecured debt), use a debt resolution company. they will negotiate settlements for about 50% of the balance, and they take one payment a month from you to deal with your creditors you no longer have to talk to, and you get your home phone back without fear of answering to a collector calling. Its great. 
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