Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bill Collectors and Tuesdays....

Now there's a job that I would love to stand in line for, an automated call center pumping out deadbeats like myself, to call and dun me for a $38.00 medical bill that was supposed to go through insurance, but for some reason never did. I know, that someday, that $38.00 bill is going to come back and haunt me, and I am pretty sure that I will be required to write a check, and make "Ted" happy, and they will stop calling me. I have actually made it a pretty entertaining event when they call. I mean, you actually should ask how their day is going, and if they have plans for the holidays, I do everything possible to keep them on the phone as long as possible, inevitably just to let them down at the end of the call. Kind of like a tease at a nightclub - get them all hot and bothered, then tell them I have a terminal disease, and that they should call the doctor that treated me incorrectly to get the $38.00. Some of you might say that it is horrible - but really, I have counted no less than 114 calls from these folks about $38.00. How many people must they be calling to actually make money on $38.00? I have come up with a myriad of excuses when they call...and typically you know when they call because they use those funky masked numbers that mysteriously have my area code on it, but it changes every single time...

It got a little boring to tell them I was dead, so I came up with more creative ways, let me list a few to the typical question that comes up (Mr. Bennett when do you think you will be able to help yourself by paying this bill, we can take a payment right now over the phone....)

1. "Well, you see, every since I fell off the truck and got my balance all discombobulated, I cannot seem to remember things real good. I got the money and all, and I could pay it, but I cannot find my wallet. Can you hang on for a minute and I will go get my wallet?" (Then put the phone on speaker, mute it, and set it next to you and see how long it takes for them to hang up).

2. Graduating from the "He died" - I have moved on to other things. Just last week, I told them I was in mourning over the death of the greatest musician that ever lived, and was holding vigil until the Jackson 4 did a come back tour with a remake. They did mention that they would have to put a mark on my credit report, I told them to make sure that it was due to religious reasons.

3. Talking about odd medical conditions always seems to occupy a little bit of my time - I have gone so far to explain to them that a hotel ice maker can rip off a testicle if you use it incorrectly. (I know that makes no fucking sense, but for $38.00 where else can you get that kind of response).

4. I pick up the phone book, go the lawyer section, and refer them to a counselor. Note, I do not say my counselor, I say a counselor. I don't mention bankruptcy, I don't mention lawsuit, I tell them that they should talk to a lawyer. I am about one.eighth of the way through the A's. Sorry to all of the receptionists and paralegals out there who may have gotten random phone calls.

5. One of my favorites is still the repeat every word they say, but just in a different way - so they say "Can I speak with G Bennett" - I reply with "Hmmm, can you speak with G Bennett" - their reply "Is this G Bennett" - my reply - "IS THIS G Bennett" - you do that for about three minutes, they get sick of the call, and they just hang up.

6. The Pay by the minute phone - this is a pretty good one - ask for a credit on your bill so that you can afford to add more minutes to your phone, because if your wife sees that you used up all of your minutes you are going to have to go back to counseling because the last time you did that you were screwing the neighbor lady. (Notice the lack of punctuation in that sentence, you actually have to say that sentence without punctuation, in a very tense and nervous way).

7. Start saying "I dispute you". Say it several times. It does not stop them from calling, but the response you typically get is pretty interestng - all the way from, "We can send you a record of service" (I dispute you) to "Our records indicate that you were seen on XX/XX/XXXX" (I dispute you) - I have had a collections caller on the phone for seventeen minutes disputing him to the point the actual word started to make no sense to me.

8. Alot of folks have old credit cards laying around, and since I have closed several accounts, I like to run the bill collectors through about six different card numbers that have not existed since 1998. They give up after usually three different numbers, but I actually was able to get one guy to run each account - twice. Now that may sound like a waste of time to you, but to me, it beats the shit out of watching the real housewives of whatever town bitch at each other.

9. Tell them you are broke. Tell them that you got turned down for food stamps, you are eating scraps out of the dumpster behind the grocery store, but you refuse to declare bankruptcy, and when you find enough pennies in the gas station parking lot, and then enough postage to mail them, that you are going to send the payment. I have only tried this once, and the poor girl actually made me feel bad for making her feel so bad.

10. Finally, use words like the convexity theory and time value of money and discounted cash flows - and then end it with, "I am going to beat that bitch again. I told them to take care of this shit and here I am having to take care of it. You hire domestic help who can barely speak a lick of fucking english, you pay them cash to make a few phone calls, and this is the bullshit you get. They are fired. I mean fired. I will make sure they will work for no one else at the club again. Worthless piece of shit. Let me see if I can get them to call you back." Entertainment.

So, you ask, why not just pay the $38.00. Because. It is a mistake. I could pay the $38.00 but then I would have to go to the movies and spend $60.00 to laugh. I take my credit rating about as seriously as I take my physical fitness - in other words, every once in a while, I am really really good for a week or so, and try to keep up with everything and make sure everything is paid off - and occassionally I worry about, but much like that gym membership, that usually lasts for about six months, and I worry about other things - (and in both cases, it is usually eating).

Now some women find forty year old men who are irresponsible terribly unattractive - but what's not to love - I have two homes, a car, a job, and occassionally, have a little bit of cash that I use to pay back the folks I have borrowed money from. I have a $2,400 per month child support payment, but that does not stop me from having generic pop tarts in the pantry, or splurging on good beer every once in a while - really, at this point in my life, I am pretty much worth more dead than I am alive, and of course, no one wants to die, but hell, when you look at what the insurance company did pay for the service, and then look at what they are calling you about - it almost seems a wee bit ridiculous. I am sure, that sometime today, I will get another call, and I am sure that they are going to describe the dire consequences I will suffer, and I am sure that I am the reason that the US economy sucks ass (I did pay more taxes than Boeing last year, and probably this year as well) - but $38.00?

That's a Tuesday type of conversation - sitting down, looking at the list of bills, realizing I need to pack, clean the house, take three conference calls, go to the doctor to have a finger shoved up my ass, and breaking the routine with a $38.00 collections call.

Tuesday. All day.


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