Monday, November 10, 2008

Please, pay your bills...

...if not for your sake, for the sake of whoever gets your phone number next time you move.

We seem to have a knack for inheriting phone numbers of people with plenty of uncollected debt. Now, I understand that life happens, so this won't be a rant post against those with collections.

But, for the love of Pete, is there not a way for collection agencies to look up phone numbers and realize their "target" has moved? Over a year ago?

Seeing "OUT OF AREA" on the Caller ID, I at first avoided the calls, figuring they'd stop calling eventually. They didn't. So I started answering, to let them know that Scott and Leanne Van Buren* no longer live here. One company called often and repeatedly despite my gentle corrections, and finally my repressed assertive qualities came to the forefront when I told the caller, "I insist you take me off your list!" (Yeah, I know, my assertive side isn't very frightening.)

The ones that really bug me, though, are the automated, recorded messages. We have two of these that we get over and over. And over. And over. And over.

And over.

And over.

Yeah, it's that annoying.

The first has been calling for a couple of months now. It goes something like this: "Hello, this is American Recovery Services. We are calling for Scott Van Buren. This is an attempt to collect a debt. If you are Scott Van Buren, please press "4". If you are not Scott Van Buren, please call 1-800-555-1212."

So, let me get this straight. If I owe them a debt, they are ready and waiting to talk to me right now. If I'm a totally innocent party who owes them exactly zero dollars, I have to call them to get my name off their list. And, really, how many people are anxious enough to pay their debt that they actually press "4"? Deep breath, Beth. This is not worth the ire it raises in you.

And then there's another company that has been calling me for many months. I don't even think they are a collection company. I've tried to imagine what they are, but nothing seems to make sense. Their message says something like, "This is the law offices of Palmer, Reichler, & Associates, P.A. We are looking for the parent or guardian of Junior Richards. Please call 1-800-555-1212."

At first I thought it was some sort of child support collection agency, but why would they be calling his parent/guardian? They'd be trying to find the non-custodial parent. My stomach is in knots from the curiosity!

I finally got sick of that message (which occasionally goes through calling-us-once-a-day phases) and called the number. It was an automated system, and after being on hold awhile I decided putting up with the messages was better than sitting there on hold. One of these days I'll get annoyed enough to call them and sit through the hold music. Until then, I'll just complain.

Anyone want to trade phone numbers?

*Not their real names. Making up names is kinda fun.


beckiwithani said...

How annoying!

Donal used to get calls all the time for someone named "Stu" (unfortunately, that's the guy's real name -- I can't make up something that good.) The calls were always from California, even though we have a Massachusetts area code. For years, he got these calls. They've finally stopped. He must've talked to everyone Stu knew in the meantime, telling them to please spread the word that this is no longer Stu's number.

Becky said...

Someone told me once that if you pick up the phone and press the "#" key (or was it the "*" key?) repeatedly, it mimics the "disconnected" signal and the caller will then remove you from their list. I've done that a few times, and haven't gotten any further calls from those numbers, so I think it works (though it could also be coincidence, since we don't really get that many repeat calls from solicitors). I've only once received a call from a collection agency, and they were trying to track down my brother, who I haven't spoken to in years. I'm still puzzling over how they figured out I was related to him, and got my number, since we don't even have the same last name anymore. Surprisingly, they believed me when I said I had no idea where he was, and they never called me back.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I go through the same thing. MILDRED WADE DOES NOT LIVE HERE!

And, like you, I have broken down and called the number only to be bugged again when that collection agency sold the debt.

Even worse, I was getting collection calls in Spanish on my cell phone. I don't speak Spanish AND I was paying for the minutes. HMPH.

tanjerine said...

This is really annoying. I once got the former number of a hooker and got calls from strange men in the middle of the night asking for noelle's services...

Unknown said...

Oh my, romi, that is bad! Our "so-and-so doesn't live here anymore" experience began THE WEEK AFTER WE MOVED IN! On two different days, two different law enforcement officers arrived to try and serve summons on us (previous owners). They never changed their address/left a forwarding on a lot of accounts, so we get calls/mail regularly. The kicker is that our phone number is completely different from what theirs was, so I know these companies are using a reverse directory to look up the phone number associated with the address. I've gone so far as to call the companies and give them the previous owners cell phone number, which I found on a business card at our clubhouse (she does home based businesses). It's nuts! Did I mention we still get these calls/mail--about two a month--and we've owned the house for FOUR YEARS?

Eric and Carol: said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog!!! So, my tip for those annoying collections calls?! Give the phone to your 16 month old who loves to talk on the phone. So turn something annoying into something of comedy! Works like a charm.

Faith said...

We were fortunate that when we moved here we got a brand new number (new prefix). Ha!

Punching the pound key 3x sometimes works (though they are on to that so it doesn't work with everyone now. LOL)

Anonymous said...

This happens to us as well and it truly makes me angry that they are so aggressive and silly at the same time.

Unknown said...

So, are you saying I shouldn't keep using your number when I apply for credit? (snicker)


Our Scoop said...

SUPER annoying! That's why we got rid of our home phone and switched to cells only about 8 years ago. That's the way to go! No telemarketing or calls like that!

Hilarious comment from your DAD!!

C. Beth said...

Becki--So, do you think Stu was hot? Get it--hot stu? Ha ha ha ha ha!

Becky--Okay, I gotta try that!

Sarah--Love the "Mildred Wade" name--is that a real one or did you make it up?

Romi--Oh, man...that would get old!


Eric and Carol--Ha, GREAT idea!! My almost-three-year-old might deter them!

Faith--Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky you! Now keep that number. FOREVER.

Dad--Hee hee!

Our Scoop--I've wanted to do that but I have my real estate MLS key, and it has to be plugged into a phone line to update every day. Ugh!! (Yes, my dad is funny. Have you checked out his blog? It's great!)

C. Beth said...

Tabby--Oops, missed your comment! Yeah, I totally agree--aggressiveness would be fine if they weren't so silly about not being sure they're calling the right person!

Dan & Hillary said...

Our phone calls are for a Japanese-English interuptation center! It has been three years since getting this number and we still get a call once a month or so.

Anonymous said...

I get calls to my cell phone from fiancing companies! The house is in my hubby's name, so I'm clueless as to why they are calling me- better yet, they leave long recorded messages on my cell. Lovely.

Special K said...

WE got so many calls asking for "chris," he had some kind of home business on my phone number. Well one day I got a call from Chris and he was sooo mad they had given his number away. Apparently they said they'd hold it for a year. Yeah right. He asked if I would give the number up. This is after I called so many people to change our number....twice....with 2 different moves after Seattle. We needed a spreadsheet to keep track of it all. Ummmm....that is a no.

Jessica said...

We've been here five years and are still getting phone calls for the last couple of have our number. Unfortunately, the callers always ask for Ms. Jesse and my husband always manages to just hear Jesse. I hear him say, "oh, one second. Here she is." Try explaining your husband misunderstood and you are Jessie or Jessica not Ms. Jesse. Haha. It's so aggrevating!