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Collections: the collector's POV

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Senior Member
Swipe my card, enter my code and walk in the building. This building, a rather nondescript office with minimal signage, has better security than most banks - and it isn't for that data. The security is for liability.

We deal with people that owe money. Some owe lots of money; some only owe a few hundred bucks. And they all react differently. In our mail, we've received white powder, ticking packages and things they haven't even told me about. Our mail doesn't come to our office. It gets out-sourced.

The office windows are bullet resistant. Not bullet proof. Not that it matters, cubicle walls are fairly low and seats packed close together.

In the building, we have to clock-in. Then it starts. It takes the average collector 49.8 seconds from clock-in to log into the system. We don't pay for that 49.8 seconds. And you really don't want to be last to often. Darwin would love collections. We eat the last place people.

The calls start precisely at 7 a.m. Not 6:59 and 50 seconds, not 7:00 and 5 seconds - exactly at 7 a.m. - or 8 a.m. eastern. Ironically, someone always gets called before 8 a.m. and the reason is always the same: They live in another time zone and have an east coast area code.

Four a.m. in Hawaii? Opps, it's 8 in New York - bet you update that phone number within two or three weeks.

The collector must average 40 to 60 connections an hour and if a call goes over a minute, I get a notice on my desktop. Get the money and get off the phone. Talk to long and I will talk to them.

Collectors are essentially telemarketers until they advance to higher dollar accounts or management. The collector on the phone doesn't know you, doesn't care about you, and hasn't read the account until after your conversation is half over. You have 45 seconds to be reaching for the checkbook or the collector is forcing an end to the call.
These collectors turn over pretty quick and burn out frequently.

The next level is the collector that survived the telemarketing weeding out rounds and is becoming educated about collections processes, laws, debtor psychology and takes pride in one of the best, one of the ones that make great money - the phone monkeys don't, they make 7-8 bucks an hour and get a bonus only if they perform in the top 20 percent.
If you owe on a telecom account, you are probably talking to a phone monkey. If you are saying anything other than reading check numbers, they don't care.

The level above the phone monkey is meaner and better. They are ones that will discuss finances and work out payment plans. The pro will try to help work out the situation within the guidelines they have from management. The pro will also kick you in the teeth if you mess with them. Blow a payment plan with a pro -- you get moved to the poop list. We can program the computers to call some files more often than others. Broken agreements are considered a higher priority; do the math.

When you are dealing with a phone monkey or an entry-level pro, don't be a jerk. The phone monkeys talk to 40 jerks an hour. They want to talk to a decent chap. And the pros used to be phone monkeys - they aren't wasting any time on a jerk.

As for being a jerk and asking for a supervisor, yeah right. You can talk to Bob, the monkey sitting next to your collector or you can be transferred to an unused extension. Supervisors don't have time for jerks. They have to supervise their team, make their own calls and answer to the floor manager. If you ever get to talk to a floor manager, you are as close to god in the collections industry as you are going to get.

Nobody ever gets past the floor manager and few people actually get to talk to him. If you have a complaint - he's the final stop. If you are a jerk, he's the guy that decides how hard you get kicked in the nuts. An 8 a.m. phone call for the rest of your life? This guy can make that happen.

He is also one of the few that can actually do something about most of the actual problems debtors have with collections accounts: bad info, incorrect amounts, abusive collectors and such. -- more later, I have to go kick someone in the nuts.
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Country Living

Senior Member
Excellent information, DC.

Congrats on your upcoming new career. How are you ever going to slow down enough to manage a paper after all this excitement?


Senior Member
And if your debt gets turned over to the legal department, then you have to deal with nasty lawyers and judges.

They make debt collectors look like fuzzy-wuzzies!


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