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Out in Oklahoma there is a new debt collection agency. It's only been operating for a year, so there's no real proof that the owner is actually making more money than his competitors, so we'll have to wait a while to see how things work out, but the concept is exciting.

The company founder works on a basic premise: people who are in debt don't have any money. (This is known as the "you can't get blood from a stone" principle).

So his company works to get people jobs, or renegotiate debts from all the debtors, not just the one he's been hired for, plus other kinds of help (they didn't mention budgeting, but that would presumably be included) will make it possible for people to pay their debts without having to declare bankruptcy.

I hope this works. Many people do want to pay their debts, but they're in over their heads, feel crushed and helpless, and eventually end up declaring bankruptcy.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=50156501n

Nancy
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A novel idea, trying to give people a leg up instead of sweeping their legs out from under them.

Fuskie
Who thinks for it to work the economy is going to have to pick up and jobs become more available...
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Who thinks for it to work the economy is going to have to pick up and jobs become more available...

Nationwide Insurance is hiring. Just check out the site and look at listing in your area.
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When I was a gas utility collector, I certainly didn't want to be involved in the often meesy lives and foolish decisions of people who couldn't pay their bills.

Shut off the gas and when the temperature drops, people start to figure out their options.



Seattle Pioneer
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Shut off the gas and when the temperature drops, people start to figure out their options.

That when they call gramps to pay the bill.
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401kinvestors,

You wrote, Shut off the gas and when the temperature drops, people start to figure out their options.

Of course Seattle winters are mostly survivable without heat... The climate here is really mild.

- Joel
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<<So his company works to get people jobs, or renegotiate debts from all the debtors, not just the one he's been hired for, plus other kinds of help (they didn't mention budgeting, but that would presumably be included) will make it possible for people to pay their debts without having to declare bankruptcy.
>>



I can pretty much guarantee you that if creditors start interfereing willie nilly in the lives of debtors, you will start having a LOT of objections by debtors and their liberal apologists.


Do you really want your electric utility to make keeping the lights on conditional on the customer getting up, getting bathed and dressed and seeing an employment counselor at an appointed time? And following the directions given to them by the employment counselor?


Seattle Pioneer
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Do you really want your electric utility to make keeping the lights on conditional on the customer getting up, getting bathed and dressed and seeing an employment counselor at an appointed time? And following the directions given to them by the employment counselor?

SP, it's not the utility companies that are doing this. This is the debt collector. You know, the people who call and harass and threaten? The people that debtors are afraid of? The people who can put liens on homes and haul away cars? Who can order people to appear in court?

No one is required to jump through all the hoops. But this company, as opposed to most of the other debt collectors, is willing to help people and get them on the road to recovery. A lot of people (and you must have read some of their posts on this board) want to pay their debts, but don't have the money. They don't know how to help themselves. This company helps them. If the people they offer help to don't want to take that help, then they'll just be a regular debt collector. But for people under such stress that they can no longer think straight, this is a lifeline.

There is no contingency. This isn't the utility, or the credit card company, the car dealer or the bank. Keeping the lights on isn't part of it. This is about paying debts, which, if you don't remember, is part of what this board is about. (Utilities have their own means of dealing with people who don't pay the bill).

Nancy
and someday I must tell you about the NYC City Councillor and the crazy suggestion she made about people who don't pay their electric bills.
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I must tell you about the NYC City Councillor and the crazy suggestion she made about people who don't pay their electric bills.

Well, with that tease, now you have to!

Ishtar
intrigued
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I must tell you about the NYC City Councillor and the crazy suggestion she made about people who don't pay their electric bills.

Well, with that tease, now you have to!

This was far enough back that the local utility was Con Ed (short for Consolidated Edison). And one winter there was a very tragic case about a home where the electricity had been cut off, and some children died of the cold.

After a long investigation it was proved that Con Ed had tried, really, seriously tried, to get help for the family. They had offered a payment plan, they had sent information about groups that would help with the heating bill, and so on. This was not a case where a ruthless corporation had shut down the heat without a word. This was a case where the parents were sucking up every penny for drugs or drink, and they didn't care enough to make sure their kids were safe and warm.

However, before the full information had come out, that made it clear it was the parent's fault, one of the city councilors proposed a law making it illegal to cut the electricity in a house or apartment with children. If there was a kid under eighteen, it didn't matter how high the bill was, Con Ed couldn't cut power.

So Con Ed had to point out, very carefully, that given that kind of law, there would be a lot of people who would never pay the bill. They have a kid, the power would never be cut, they could spend their money on other stuff. If you have enough people like that, the utility would be running at a huge deficit. So eventually, once it was shown that Con Ed really did have a program in place to give people options about getting the bill paid, everyone simmered down and turned their attention to the parents who were so out of it they allowed their kids to freeze, and why hadn't children's services been on the case.

But that proposed law, without the recognition of trouble looming that everyone else saw, has been my gold standard for dumb actions taken by politicians.

Nancy
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<<Do you really want your electric utility to make keeping the lights on conditional on the customer getting up, getting bathed and dressed and seeing an employment counselor at an appointed time? And following the directions given to them by the employment counselor?

SP, it's not the utility companies that are doing this. This is the debt collector. You know, the people who call and harass and threaten? The people that debtors are afraid of? The people who can put liens on homes and haul away cars? Who can order people to appear in court?
>>



You don't want to see the abuse this invites. When you do, you wont like it.



Seattle Pioneer
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<<So Con Ed had to point out, very carefully, that given that kind of law, there would be a lot of people who would never pay the bill. They have a kid, the power would never be cut, they could spend their money on other stuff. If you have enough people like that, the utility would be running at a huge deficit. So eventually, once it was shown that Con Ed really did have a program in place to give people options about getting the bill paid, everyone simmered down and turned their attention to the parents who were so out of it they allowed their kids to freeze, and why hadn't children's services been on the case.

But that proposed law, without the recognition of trouble looming that everyone else saw, has been my gold standard for dumb actions taken by politicians.

Nancy >>



Of course the result of laws like this is higher rates as unpaid bills are added to the costs rate payers must pay.


But heck, rate payers have lots of money, right?



Seattle Pioneer
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You don't want to see the abuse this invites. When you do, you wont like it.

I still think you don't understand what the article is about. You appear, for some reason, to believe that this is some sort of requirement before the debt is paid. It isn't. It's a means of helping people, some of whom think themselves beyond help.

The electric company isn't going to demand that someone get a good-paying job in order to pay the bill. They don't care. As long as the bill is paid the electricity will stay on. The money stops, the electricity stops. Utilities are not involved in debt repayment.

If people pay their bills, they don't hear from debt collectors. If they do hear from debt collectors, the majority of them are hearing threats and rants, and are afraid to pick up the phone. They live in hiding.

But if they hear from this company, they're going to hear from someone who will listen to them while they explain the situation, who will help negotiate payments, who will help them get a job in order to pay the bills. For some reason totally beyond me, you think helping someone is abuse.

Should we stop Boy Scouts from helping old people across the street? That could be regarded as abuse, too.

I don't know why you think this is horrible. People get their debts paid, and they don't have to live in fear. Apparently in your view, not paying bills is okay, if the alternative is having a friendly debt collection company.

I'm not going to respond to any more bizarre responses from you unless you can explain, calmly and carefully, why having a helpful debt collection agency is awful. And you'll have to explain yourself thoroughly, because I'm just not understanding why you think this is abusive. The debtors don't have to do what the company suggests, it's not as though the alternative is prison. They can flip the company off and continue to not pay the bills. But for people who want to pay their bills but are seeing a brick wall, having someone walk them through this can save their house, their car, their credit rating and their self-respect.

Nancy
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You don't want to see the abuse this invites. When you do, you wont like it.

Okay SP, I think I figured out what your problem is. I'll explain what was going on.

1) One of the reasons people don't pay the bills is that they have suddenly lost their jobs.

b) If the reason they aren't paying the bills is because of a job loss, the company will ask them if they need help getting a new job.

trois) If they say yes, they would like help, the company will help them write a good resume, give them hints about the interview (including wearing a suit to the job interview) and call them the morning of a scheduled interview to remind them to show up.

four) If the person is still employed and can't pay the bills for some other reason, the company will simply work with that.

I will repeat point 2.

If the reason they aren't paying the bills is because of a job loss, the company will ask them if they need help getting a new job.

In other words, the company is behaving the same way JobNet does in Massachusetts: they make sure the person is job hunting, and gives them hints and tips to help them in their search. That's all.

People are not being ordered to put on a suit and tie in order to write a check. They are being told that they will make a better impression at the job interview if they wear a suit.

That's all. It's job hunting advice. If you think that helping someone get a job is abusive I can't help you.

Nancy
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But if they hear from this company, they're going to hear from someone who will listen to them while they explain the situation, who will help negotiate payments, who will help them get a job in order to pay the bills. For some reason totally beyond me, you think helping someone is abuse.

I have a friend who was a debt collector for a while. His company was structured "classically", so he couldn't help the clients get a job etc, but he did take the approach of listening, explaining, and trying to work with the client instead of berating them. His results were consistently in the top 5% of the company, and usually #1. Clients didn't avoid his calls (he had far fewer hangups and no answers), and often they would actively call him back. Luckily he had a manager who was willing to bend on style and acknowledged his results.

Then the company was bought out, that manager moved on and was replaced by an aggressive my-way-or-the-highway jackash, the kind of d!^& that needs to drive a red mercedes and put his name on the license plate. No counts for "results" with this guy, it seemed this manager's joy in life was to run a team of people who could yell at "moochers" all day long. It was more important to him to put himself, by proxy, above everybody else than produce actual results for the company. Unfortunately the entire industry has that mentality, so it wasn't questioned...except by my friend of course, who left soon after.
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Sounds more like a "consumer debt counselor slash resume service" that has registered as a debt collector so he can get hard-on-their-luck leads.

xtn
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Sounds more like a "consumer debt counselor slash resume service" that has registered as a debt collector so he can get hard-on-their-luck leads.

When I googled the company I discovered that the owners (husband and wife) had gone through their own financial crisis years ago, and had been hounded and yelled at and were afraid to answer the phone because of the sheer hatred they got from the debt collectors. So they went into the business to prove that most people, given a chance and some help, really did want to pay their debts, and screaming and yelling were not necessary.

If they're getting better returns than the rest of the industry, I'd say they'd proven their point.

Nancy
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If they're getting better returns than the rest of the industry, I'd say they'd proven their point.

Are they? I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain fully around the business model. I'm gonna help you now, and you're gonna promise me a payment plan when you get back on your feet? That sort of thing?

xtn
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Are they? I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain fully around the business model. I'm gonna help you now, and you're gonna promise me a payment plan when you get back on your feet? That sort of thing?

In the clip the guy said they were getting better results. Much better results. And yes, the payment plan is part of it. That's the point behind helping them job hunt: once the person has money they can start paying their debts. As I said, they're a debt collection agency. They are assigned to collect on debts that aren't being paid. But they try to look at the reason the debts aren't being paid, and if lack of a job is part of the problem they will help.

They'll also negotiate with other debtors to make sure that the payments are within reason, and although it wasn't mentioned, I suspect that they also help people create a workable budget.

Nancy
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Happy balloon day, Nancy!
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Happy Balloon day, Nancy!!

Andrea
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They'll also negotiate with other debtors to make sure that the payments are within reason, and although it wasn't mentioned, I suspect that they also help people create a workable budget.

I caught part of the program and I think they also checked to see whether people were eligible for public programs and helped them get signed up. I would imagine that may include unemployment & retraining programs.
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<<I'm not going to respond to any more bizarre responses from you unless you can explain, calmly and carefully, why having a helpful debt collection agency is awful. >>



Compare the idea to the seven day instantloan companies.


A perfectly good idea in theory but the conditions of use invite abuse.


I can certainly imagine collection agencies offering extensions on payments provided that debtors sign a confession of judgement which avoids the need to go to court and other onerous terms.


But keep imagining sweetness and light if that appeals to you.


Seattle Pioneer
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<<b) If the reason they aren't paying the bills is because of a job loss, the company will ask them if they need help getting a new job.

trois) If they say yes, they would like help, the company will help them write a good resume, give them hints about the interview (including wearing a suit to the job interview) and call them the morning of a scheduled interview to remind them to show up.

>>


Or perhaps they will offer an extension on paying debt if the debtor signs a contract to pay a fee to an employment agency for job referrals which might include paying a fee if the debtor refuses a job offer.

Lots of abuses are possible, in my view.

But imagine that businesses that are inherentlyopredatory are going to change their spots if you wish.


Seattle Pioneer
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Okay.

If you think someone giving help with a resume is the equivalent of a payday loan collector, then we clearly cannot have a reasonable discussion about this.

Have a nice life.

Nancy
I have been informed that I am an contemptuous, unpleasant know-it-all that most people dislike, and will therefore be taking a break.
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...taking a break...

I've found it's good to do that once in awhile; however:

I have been informed...

Not by me, and therefore not true, because I am the one who knows it all!
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I have been informed that I am an contemptuous, unpleasant know-it-all that most people dislike

============================================

Where did anyone say that? I don't know of anyone that thinks that.

Jean
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I have been informed that I am ...

Wait, what? Huh? On what planet?
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I can certainly imagine collection agencies offering extensions on payments provided that debtors sign a confession of judgement which avoids the need to go to court and other onerous terms.

I see the problem. You have imagined that these collection agencies are doing things that no one has said they are doing, and so based on your own imagination, you have decided that the reality-based facts can't be right and so there must be abuse.

Now that I understand your comments are coming from things you are just making up in your head vs. the information that has actually been provided in this discussion, I can keep your comments in the appropriate light.
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Nancy
I have been informed that I am an contemptuous, unpleasant know-it-all that most people dislike, and will therefore be taking a break.


Whoever told you that has siht for brains and I can GUARANTEE did not take a poll.

Love you, Nancy!

MOI
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I have been informed that I am an contemptuous, unpleasant know-it-all that most people dislike, and will therefore be taking a break.

WHAT WHAT WHAT? Who said that crap? You are a respectful, pleasant know-it all that I like a lot. I'm tough enough to anonymously internet smack somebody for you. Except an NSA staffer. You just say the word.

xtn
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I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure it was my post about irony that Nancy is referring to.

I'm sorry if she took my post differently than I meant it.

I guess my explanation wasn't well written if that is what she read. I've been trying to think of a way to explain it better to clear up the misunderstanding, but haven't come up with anything.

I don't know for sure since she hasn't posted enough for me to know it was that post. For all I know she could have gotten an email or it's on a board I do not read.

Of course, it could be something totally different.

Jean
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I have been informed that I am an contemptuous, unpleasant know-it-all that most people dislike, and will therefore be taking a break.

One person was being snarky to you. I know I don't feel that way and I'm sure lots of other Fools would disagree with anyone calling you a "contemptuous, unpleasant know-it-all."
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I've been considering this issue further.

The problem is that desperate people are often easily exploited. Throw a drowning person a rope and they will grab onto it, even if there's an anchor at the other end.

Debt collectors are dealing with one variety of desperate person, and helping to create a sense of desperation.

If they create that sense of desperation and then link it to other kinds of actions they may induce people to take poorly conceived options.

Here's a similar example of that ---- dentist who offer patients lines of credit at poor terms in order to get people to sign up for loans when they are vulnerable to suggestion.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/14/business/economy/patients-...


Seattle Pioneer
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Love you, Nancy!

MOI
LWW
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I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure it was my post about irony that Nancy is referring to.

Just beginning to come back, but I want to clarify.

It was NOT you. It was NOT on this board. It was someone who doesn't normally post on the same boards I do, and I don't know why the attack happened, but it spooked me.

Nancy
often spooks easily
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