I used to hate unrecognised callers or withheld numbers; not knowing who was on the other end of the line. I used to dodge them, transfer the call to voice mail, keep my phone on silent so I wouldn’t even hear them come in.
Hiding from calls was the old me. Now I am sorting out bad debts and taking control of my finances and my life, I have nothing to hide.
So I answered the call. I knew it was a debt management company straight away and one that I’ve not spoken to before. They wanted me to confirm my details and due to data protection could not tell me anything.
My heart sank. I thought we had contacted everyone we owed money to.
After trying to guess the address (we have moved a few times), I finally got the right answer and they told me that I owed £121.78 to lets call them Company A. Still in a slight dazed state after finding out the amount of total debt we owe was rising, not dropping, it then dawned on me that we’d already set up an agreement with Company A – months ago!
I told the debt management representative this but it didn’t go down well.
“Well, why would they pass the debt to us then? We only got it the other day. You must owe them money so how are you going to pay?”
“I can assure you that I had already set up a payment arrangement with Company A.”
“Fine! We’ll have to go and check with them.”
“Please can you give me a call back to confirm everything is…….” The call was disconnected. How rude!
Two weeks passed. I heard nothing and I thought it went away. I knew I had set the plan up. Until I then got a text message from them asking me to call them urgently. Followed by another phone call about half an hour later.
It was a man this time but just as rude. He asked me how I would pay the debt and I repeated that his colleague was checking with Company A. He checked the notes on file and said, “Oh, right. We’ll need to double check that then. If you could find the paperwork and tell us when you actually set it up with them”. Then he hung up.
I started to panic that the standing order I’d set up last year was transferring our cash somewhere else. I was stunned. I was literally losing money. Total dread set over me.
I had to sort this out. I opened the bill drawer and there is was, right on the top, and there on the front was the date, time and payment details for the plan that we arranged. Next was calling Company A who would hopefully be more helpful….after a 7 minute wait (to a free phone number).
At last, a nice person. I explained the issue. She looked in the records and could see I called, had made the arrangement and was making payments. Then she saw that the person I dealt with all those months back had not hit the button to actually set the payment plan up.
Their system had seen missing payments and, without someone just looking, automatically transferred the account to a debt management company.
Anyway, she fixed it, profusely apologised and assured me that they wouldn’t call again.
I could feel the colour return to my skin. It was all fixed. So easily.
This little episode has proved that you should not be scared to answer the phone. Even if it seems bad at first, it must be fixed and it CAN be fixed.
I don’t know whether this will impact my credit rating (not that it’s that good in the first place). There is nothing showing at the moment (I check my report for free through Noddle www.noddle.co.uk).
It also worried me how many other people are told to just pay the bill when they don’t need to. People that feel threatened by the rude and sharp behaviour of companies like that. I know they are doing their job but it doesn’t hurt to have a little compassion does it?
Ricky Willis is the original Skint Dad. A money-making enthusiast, father, and husband to Naomi. He is always looking for unique ways to earn a little extra.