I think there should be an investigation into the records keeping of some companies. It seems that, in particular cell phone companies use a legion of debt collectors to harass and intimidate subscribers. In particular, part of the scam is the “gotcha” game of a “surprise” bill. A subscriber, who has signed up for a service level of $50 a month – suddenly gets a $300, $400, 0r (in my case) even a $600 bill out of the blue.
If the subscriber can’t pay it (which could be the whole reason they only signed up for a $50 a month service) – the cell phone carriers are remarkably adept at “selling” that debt to a series of sometimes questionably ethical debt collection agencies. A consumer can wind up paying the same “debt” two or three times just to get the debt collectors off their back.
Your average consumer is ill prepared to fight back – either because of the hours it takes to get a live person, the fact that many of the “service” people at the carrier won’t solve the problem, are completely ignorant of the technology and it’s common faults – and not knowing how to file complaints through consumer agencies. (If you can back your case up with documentation, try the Public Utilities Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, and Chamber of Commerce – all of whom have complaint procedures.)
All too often, as in my case – the bill is in error. Or, in far too many other cases, the consumer already paid the bill. This, like other corporate scams (debit card fees, mortgage fraud, credit card late fees) which have emerged over the past 20 years cost American consumers billions of dollars, and suck the life out of the economy.
At least this guy -did the right thing!
Debt collectors from Advanced Call Center Technologies, Dallas, have to shell out a whopping 1.5 million dollars for explicit voicemails sent on a man’s phone.
The company sent eight harassing and threatening voicemail messages on Allen Jones’ mobile phone in August 2007 trying to collect what it said he owed on a credit card.
Most messages were laced with profanity and spewed racial slurs.
“This is your mother******* wake-up call you little lazy a** b****,” wfaa.com quoted a collector as saying in one message.
“Get your mother******* n****r ass up and go pick some mother******* cotton fields,” said another collector.
Jones is African-American.
“This shouldn’t be tolerated. Nobody should have to experience what I had to experience,” he said.
Mark Frenkel, one of Jones’ attorneys said: “If we did not have tapes, no one would ever believe that this happened.”
“This is absolutely, without a doubt, the most egregious collection case I’ve ever seen,” Dean Malone, Jones’ other attorney, added.
Jones sued Advanced Call Center Technologies over the harassing calls.
And on Friday afternoon, a Dallas County jury awarded him one of the biggest verdicts of its kind-he won 50,000 dollars in mental anguish and 1.5 million dollars in punitive damages.
“We made a statement and the statement is we will not tolerate abusive debt collectors,” continued Jones.
Frenkel and Malone said employees from Advanced Call Center Technologies confessed to the calls.
However, it remains unclear if they are still with the company and whether it will appeal.
Jones always disputed the debt and claims he paid it.
And the amount in question was a meagre sum of 200 dollars.
“They did this to Allen for under 200 dollars. Two hundred bucks put him through this,” noted Frenkel.