Case Study: Rodrigo & Denial

I’m usually a pretty patient person when I call people on the phones. My job isn’t hardcore collections work, heavens no. I can’t deal with the idea of dropping threats of garnishing wages on people; the most I’ll threaten is accounts going into collections if you reach a certain number of days past due.

That said, there is a limit to what any sane rep should have to listen to on the phone, and I might have strained that a time or two. Most notably with a person we’ll call Rodrigo.

Rodrigo is your average American guy. He is not, as his name might suggest, someone with a heavy Hispanic accent who understands little to none of the technical jargon around paying bills. (Those are the people who say, “Oh, ah, Spanish?” and get sent off to my dear friend who handles the Spanish queue and get a mouthful from her when they try to pull a lack of understanding in their own language.)

Rodrigo is of pretty average intelligence; though he seems a bit puffed up about his education and background. That’s fine with me. I don’t mind. I have a degree of my own, and I did my work to get it. That said, he doesn’t know what it means to have an account with a regular bill. Nor does he realize that by not responding to our efforts to collect or resolve his account, he can’t a) stop our collection calls, b) claim we’re doing something illegal, or c) stop his credit from being ruined. And if he keeps it up, his account will undoubtedly go straight to the collections agency who won’t listen to him tell them why he shouldn’t have to pay but will instead gently and firmly inform him of the amount they intend to garnish from his wages.

You’d think maybe then he’d actually want to do something on his account.

Here’s the story:

Typical for my job, Rodrigo’s name pops up on my computer screen, I greet the man and explain why I’m calling. Before you know it, I’m in a conversation with someone convinced that this debt does not exist.

Yes, well, apparently it does. And it does in your name. With your contact information attached to it.

In fact, this debt isn’t even legal. (It’s funny how every time someone tells me their debt doesn’t exist, they follow up by threatening that it’s illegal for us to contact them regarding the supposed nonexistent debt.) Yep, this debt isn’t legal, he didn’t owe any of this money to anyone or anything, and furthermore, this was supposed to be taken care of for him.

Clearly that happened, and that’s why we were calling.

Normally people are manageable. I’ve developed a knack for calming people down and convincing them to listen to me and take in their options to resolve their accounts and maybe even start their own process of resolution (however futile it may be). I give them a resolution that I think works, and then I give them the means to complain or request research or otherwise do something that makes them feel they’ve accomplished something.

Not Rodrigo.

He is of the class of people who are single-minded in believing any account in their name is not something they are responsible for. Nor is he responsible to try to resolve any issues on any type of debt in his name that he doesn’t feel is valid. (Because clearly leaving it alone will make it go away – like any child, this strategy is always a good one.)

His situation is one of the unique ones that my company comes across where he may have a legitimate complaint that could determine his debt is, in fact, not something he is liable for given the circumstances. He may actually have the potential to reduce his debt (which numbers in the thousands of dollars) to nothing.

Does he hear me saying that the good news is there’s a simple process he can start to get this debt issue resolved? No. He hears me saying he has to initiate something, has to take on responsibility for something, has to be active. And that grinds his ax, so to speak.

So we go in circles about his nonexistent, yet reappearing debt that he insists should be taken care of.

The great thing about Rodrigo and his infernal denial? He’s been in the system for calls so long he’s gone through several other representatives. He’s one of the people on my list that I tend to go back to for amusement purposes. He’s also spoken to two different supervisors, and I’ve had the misfortune of calling him a second time. During that call, he was so pleased that I listened to how much the system, the government, the schools, the businesses, and society has wronged him, he told me he wouldn’t speak to any other reps besides me… or perhaps the CEO, ya know, if he decides to call and apologize for this whole debt debacle.

All I can say is, regardless of our rules against hanging up on people, if I see his name come across my screen a third time, forget it being a charm, I’ll be clicking the little hang up button and calling it a “call disconnect.”

I’m sure Rodrigo will come up again in the future… he’s become a rather amusing topic of conversation amongst my coworkers. Not to mention, we’re unfortunately still calling him. It’s just too bad there’s not a button to stop calling people who refuse to help themselves. It would certainly save the reps a lot of time and energy.

– RaeNez