Thursday, May 23, 2013

I just got called by a debt collection agency !!!

Update #2 in BLUE
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 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 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.

1 comment:

  1. Mr. Bird,

    There are three possible reasons for what took place to you.

    First, to know you is to realize you are high risk to everyone. Especially Time-Warner as you know the CEO's email address (What is with the extra N. Glenn did not feel important enough with one he had to add an extra onne (wait, one sounds better with two N's)). It just takes one person when you close an account with any company like TW Cable to put in a high risk to close to send to collections based on the manner in which the account was closed (per their software). One check box is all it takes.

    Second, you could have become a near close victim of identity theft. As you clearly stated you have one real cable choice and it's TW Cable, so whether your cell, tel or otherwise is LA, DC or NYC, your address is easy to find. Identity theft often involves an insider at the company that gathers data and sells it off to their friends to get paid.

    So, they know the last amount of the bill, when you cancelled and they go into their move to get your data, your credit card, social security, etc to steal THE MALCOLM BIRD.

    Third, you could have a bigger issue in that you have a financial manager that handles your bills. That's almost as elitist as two "N"'s in your name.

    Wait, that's not number 3.

    Number three is clearly that when in doubt, have a fax sent of the actual bill with all the details sent to your high brow business manager who still has a fax (they all do) and then verify if it was real.

    Also, if you do not trust a call, get the caller's name, id number with the company and their direct and toll-free dial as well as specfic calling center they are calling from.

    TW and many others will likely not be in the same state as you are which is a legitimate sign in some instances, but if they are in NYC or NY State, then it more likely a fraudulent case.

    Also, note the number if caller-ID block, they probably have something to hide, like part of an insider scam.

    Who am I? I am the guy that for 18+ years has run two top ad agencies in LA and OC as well as a forensic research expert on the risks for businesses to Identity Theft and that ID Theft is often coming from within as they have the most insightful information and always leave a trail.

    Yours truly,

    Zachary S. Zeiler
    ID+M, LA & OC and formerly CEO & President of VPI.Net
    Tel. (949) 478-1247