Updates in RED
Yup it's true, at noon today, a woman called my phone asking to speak to Milcum Bard, and figuring that was me, I answered. First of all, without telling me who she was she asked me for my address, to verify my identity. I asked if she was seriously expecting me to give her my address out to this complete stranger and she then identified herself as from a debt collection agency!!! Errrr wot?
I was shocked! What could this be about, I pay all my bills on time, don't owe money to anyone...you hear the words debt collection agency like you hear the letters IRS, it sends shudders down your spine. It was Time Warner Cable. Still shocked, we closed the account under a month ago and paid the final bill on May 10th. How much did they claim I owed them, I mean, to get a collection agency on my *ss in under a month, that's gotta be serious no? $124 !!!!!!!
So I call my business manager, and sure enough it was paid May 10th. So i don't actually owe them anything.
This, (apart from angering me), led me to think...who gets a debt collection agency involved in the first place for such a small debt in such a short window of time. I mean, if someone at Time Warner Cable had checked the account, they would have seen a cell phone number, (the same one they passed onto the collection agency), and they could haver called me to discuss and see if by any chance in this world THEY had made a mistake... but they didn't. They would have also seen that I had been an upstanding customer for over five years, paying on average $240 a month to them...do I sound like a collection agency target?
Let me explain why this all started. If you live in NY you will be aware that most buildings are wired for only one cable and internet provider. The city is divided into areas controlled by cable companies who have a virtual monopoly in that area. In my building it was Time Warner Cable. I suffered through terrible internet speeds, dropped internet, appalling cable reception with dropped programs, pixelation, freezing programs,it really was in my opinion a sub standard service for five years. Then, like a knight in shining armor, (or my building board member Pamela in Prada), a deal was made with Verizon Fios for them to wire our building. I didn't jump to Fios I leaped, and let me tell you, it's been month, and boy so far, all their wondrous claims have come true, incredible picture quality on all TV's, ( I truly never knew my plasma TV in the living room could look THAT good), lightening fast internet, no drop out, no freezing of programs...what they in fact promised me when I signed up. All that for $120 a month, saving over $100 from TWC. We returned the TWC equipment and my business manager in LA paid the final bill.
So you would understand my shock, horror, anger and bemusement when a debt collection agency called. I thought I would call TWC to get some answers. First of all like all large corporations you can't actually get through to their executives, you automatically get forwarded to their answer service. So, being a crafty chappie, I asked to be put through to the head of corporate communication's Ellen East's assistant, and finally got a human being. Sadly though Ellen is on vacation, (well let's face it, it's not a sad thing for Ellen, she's probably lying on a beach somewhere and good on her). Ellen's assistant though did forward me to the office of the president 's customer service team, ( this is actually corporate bull for, let's give the caller a fancy title so they think they got through to Glenn Britts office when we all know that Glenn has probably never met them, and has nothing to do with them but hey let's play along with their game, it's fun right?), and spoke to a wonderfully polite person. This person was so nice it's hard to remain angry at her, she was so nice that even if she had eaten my cat I would still like her...a truly nice, attentive person. I asked her the following questions:
1: Why did no one from TWC call me?
2: Why did you not check that I had paid my final bill, how can that be transferred to a debt collector so quickly?
3: WTF! ... Ok I didn't actually say that, but I did say who gets a debt collector for a debt that only a month old?
4: What are they going to do to correct and blemishes that will appear on my credit ?
5: What are you going to do to make this right?
6: What's the secret to life and immortality, (OK I didn't ask that but it would have been great if I had).
So the follow up from TWC is quite interesting, a new person from the presidents office of...oh god, it's just customer service, called, also very nice. It seems they have either lost the check or it is still "processing" and we should wait until Tuesday. That's completely acceptable APART FROM THE FACT that you didn't wait and got a collection agency on my *ss. They have no answers to the other questions I asked, it seems that no one can actually answer anything. Will update as this develops but hey, TWC, there's a company for ya!
Jamal, in the TWC collections department called . You might not believe this but hey let's give it a go. Jamal informed me that because I was NOT a "High Risk" client, as all my bills had been paid in full for five years, as a policy they wouldn't call me if I defaulted or they didn't receive payment. If I had been a "high risk" client, I would received a call. Because I did return the equipment on time the account was closed and wasn't an active account so they, instead of calling me, automatically send me to a third party debt collection agency, even though we had paid the debt or thought so, (we're still trying to sort that out). So if I had been a delinquent customer, and if I had defaulted on payments, or not returned the equipment, they would have called. When I asked Jamal if he understood why I found this process completely remarkable he just sort of said nothing. When I asked how the third party company operates he said, "I don't know their process," "they're a third party company". When I pointed out that I would expect any company that hired a third party company to work for them, to understand their process and how they were going to represent them, he agreed they should.
I decided to email TWC CEO Glenn Britt directly, here is what I wrote...
Please take five minutes and read this blog post. I have perpetually asked the questions contained in the blog and when not ignored, the answers to some are unbelievable.
I would love to hear your thoughts on your companies practices.
With best regards,
Will advise as to any reply. $100 on a customer service person responding.