An Open Letter to Rogue Debt Collectors and Bad Employees

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[We’re excited and pleased to present this letter directed to the likes of Khemall “Kenny” Jokhoo and other rogue and scam agencies out there making it hard on everyone else. It comes to us from Daron Ratcliff, Collections Manager of Loss Recovery for Cerno Solutions at Vericrest Financial in Dallas, Texas.]

Daron Ratcliff

Daron Ratcliff

William Collector

1234 Agencies Around The World BLVD

Anywhere, Planet Earth 56789

Dear Bill Collector:

I hope that this letter finds you in good spirits. Well, no, I’m lying. I hope that you are miserable right now. If not, I’m going to try and share some of my misery with you. The focus of my misery happens to be one of your favorite topics: YOU.

You see, Bill, a few years ago, things started to really change in our industry: The way that we work our accounts; Compliance requirements; The way we leave messages; The way that we look out for one another; THE WAY THAT WE TREAT OUR CONSUMERS. All of these things are different today. And guess what, Bill? The more things change, the more you stay the same. Let this letter serve as a notice to you: You are no longer welcome in our industry, and we want you gone.

“But why?” you ask? Because all that you do is leave a path of chaos. You have no idea of the damage that you really cause, because you have been terminated from the place in question for whatever you did. So, you don’t know. You don’t know about the settlement that your last agency had to pay because of you. You don’t know about the policy changes that went into effect to protect the agency and its employees from the likes of you. You don’t know about the managers hovering over everyone to minimize any future risks. You don’t know about the sleepless nights that you have given to your former colleagues, wondering if they are going to have a place to work at the next day. You don’t know, because you are at another agency right now, starting your vicious cycle all over again.

I hope you don’t mind my calling you Bill. I know that sometimes, you use other names. Names like…….. Attorney, Paralegal, Legal assistant, Special investigator, Court liaison, Security specialist, Loss recovery investigator, Secret Squirrel, Deputy Dawg….oops, sorry! The last two came from my childhood. They were cartoon characters, Bill, just like you.

I’m sorry if I offended you, Bill. I didn’t mean any harm. I mean, we all know how high of a regard that you hold yourself in. We hear you all the time. We see you outside in the smoke area, beating your chest about how great you are, with a cheap cigarette hanging out of the corner of your mouth. They should build a glass box for you to stand in out there. This way, you can see yourself the same way that we all see you: a relic of the past.

I get mistaken for you on occasion, Bill, and it’s really a degrading feeling. I have to explain to the consumer that I treat people with respect. I have to explain to them that we will not be calling their job five times a day. I have to tell them that they are not going to jail. I promise them that I will not slam the phone down on them. I have to assure them that I will not be calling their relatives and divulging information. I have to promise them that I will not set up payments that they did not authorize. I explain to them that I will not be taking my personal issues out on them over the phone. No wonder you can’t play by the rules, Bill. You’re too busy following your own, and making up more as you go along.

You are not a superstar, Bill. Well, not in the real sense. They should associate your name with the other stars like you: people like Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, A-Rod, and Jose Canseco. They are just like you, Bill, because in order to achieve any type of success, they had to cheat. So you be of good cheer, because you are in good company. Too bad you don’t have some of the wealth that they do. If we could get you to follow the FDCPA, maybe you could stay somewhere long enough to build a real life for yourself.

In closing, let me just say that we, as a collective, want you to find another way to earn a living. You are not just a threat to our profession, but a threat to our way of living. You see, we take pride in what we do, and how we conduct business. We do not recognize you for your “great” accomplishments. We see you as a blemish on our industry, a rash even. A rash that we are tired of scratching.  You are no longer welcome in this industry. You, my friend, are a joke. You are a walking fo paux; a one liner without the cymbal crash. A juicy pimple. Go and find yourself another way to earn a living. Don’t let the door hit you on the– well, you get the picture. Take care.

Respectfully Yours,

The Professional Debt Collector

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Posted in Collection Laws and Regulations, Debt Collection, Doing it Right, Doing it Wrong .

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Continuing the Discussion

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  • avatar jessie-gomez says:

    Daron Ratcliff never said one thing about the low life deadbeat consumers that will do anything even filing a fraudulent police report to get out of paying a debt the know the owe.

  • avatar Daron Ratcliff says:

    Jessie:

    The reason I did not mention anything about consumers (notice I left out low life and deadbeat) is because we still have an obligation as PROFESSIONAL debt collectors (notice Professional in all caps) to treat them all with respect, no matter what their position is regarding their debt. Consumers that conduct themselves inappropriately come with the job. It’s not my job to judge them, and I’m way too busy calling the next paying consumer to worry about the ones that don’t. Hope this makes sense.

    Daron

  • avatar Newport Queen says:

    Daron, Love this letter. It is absolutely true. There are thousands of us out their that love our jobs, do it with professionalism regardless of what we are faced with and make a pretty darn good profit doing so. It is the “Bills” out there that make consumers distrust us. Often it is the “Bills” that have burned the consumer in the past so they react defensively when we contact them to negotiate payment.

    After reading the so called business practices of Bill, I mean Jessie, on the forums believe this letter should be arriving in his PO Box any day now. Jessie, notice I said negotiate payment. Not bully, not make consumers cry or tremble.

  • avatar Linda Almonte says:

    I have yet to see a financial institution, collections agency, debt buyer or attorney network with serious issues that there was not a top down approach. Care to dispute that opinion? I will list every name publicly along with every email from over the years, policies and procedures etc.. the same items that are in the hands of EVERY regulatory agency and major media outlet in the country along with a great deal of explanation and back up and verified by YOUR frontline employees and management and yes even some of your attorney’s. Having your employees learn the law and then not allowing them to follow it or worse demanding they don’t. If you are having these issues in your company you issue is LEADERSHIP or the lack of it. Words out it wasn’t just one sale, one bank, one agency or a handful of attorneys. You know your Inside Arm mousepad was 100% correct what does the frontline collector see a computer screen with data and they depend on you to make sure it is correct. The downfall of the industry will be you have created such a jumbled mess out of everyone taking a shortcut here and there that there is barely anyone left that can look and know what is correct and what isn’t. I could sit here and list 1000 examples and root causes. When I was in collections and we saw compliance violations we analyzed it was it intentional if yes out the door, if it was due to training systems or management it was the leaders fault. You want the highest collection and liquidation dollars have clean portfolios and that means the garbage you bought you are going to collect on them all. You want compliance set the standard at all levels of the organization create good behaviors that drive good numbers not vice versa. In your performance scorecards at all levels eliminate issues immediately I have seen complete organizations turn around with just changes in a scorecard. We all have the same metrics ptp, pk, dollars collected, liquidation dollars, suit rates, suit penetration etc.. and if you are an idiot aht. Simple intentional compliance violations equals no bonus for you impact to your team and all the way up the line. These behaviors have toughed and hurt every part of not only this industry but all lthat depend on it. As an industry and no one I know can claim not to be at least part of the problem instead of defending and marketing you need to identify the defects, complete real root cause analysis and solutions. No more low hanging fruit and bandaids. Do we need new regulation or just to follow the laws in place and stop the games. I have four kids ages 13, 15, 16 and 22 and would not allow the drama and excuses I see from industry leaders at any of their ages. Why because although I don’t demand perfection I demand accountability. Is it really an ethical or moral decision or is it just follow the law. The problem is that the only negative impact as listed above is fines and settlements. If people could rob a bank for a million dollars and if caught they had to give back $100k and keep the rest free and clear how many bank robbers would there be? As long as fines and settlement are being called “cost of doing business” by industry leaders and come with legal verbiage to please follow the laws already in place. If you don’t want negative press and more regulatory audits and rules easy fix put solutions in place. I know too many good people in this industry that are more than capable of fixing this and we all know only you can do it. If you don’t want someone else to make your decisions for you start working proactively instead of reactively, will it be expensive YES it will if you took years of shortcuts. @Daron suggestion spend a day with me in a courthouse with stacks of those “deadbeats” legal files how many have a wrong balance, incorrect information, “robosigned” legal documents etc… Plausible deniability does not count or because you didn’t ask so you don’t have to tell. In a recent deposition a particular debt buyers only defense and argument to get the testimony thrown out was claiming I didn’t have first hand knowledge of the account and it’s history the response back neither do you but I was able to lay out years of policies and procedures, history, systems, etc.. result summary judgment and a now educated judge and consumer attorney. There is a lot more former and current employees out there that are now not going to you but around you than you could ever imagine. And what I have seen those frontline employees are actually some of the most educated they talk to hundreds of consumers a week and know those systems and screens inside out. Actually, even much better than most senior management. I foresee in the near future there will be leaders emerge in this industry and a lot of people looking for a new line of work. Which end do you see yourself on is what you should be asking because if you are on this site reading this board you know that choice is up to you.

  • avatar sassy Ledsome says:

    Back when I started in the field ages ago everybody had money everybody was using credit mortgages for going wild, back in the average collector beat up the debtors that was the thing criers were payers. Experience collectors they use to laugh about going into the red tipping back into the grey. sure there’s any been in business for a while remember those days but times are a changin. The new collector has to be savy. smart and nice. the new generation of debtors they know the laws they know what they can do and what we can do . A smart collector can get the money without resorting to the past by listening. figuring out ways to figure out how to pay the bill is rather it’s making weekly payments settlement whatever. To many collectors nowadays don’t use their brains.

  • avatar sassy Ledsome says:

    And too many agencies fail to train collectors correctly to know what is right from wrong so you gotta put the blame all the way around

  • avatar Mavis Pye says:

    Great letter Daron

  • avatar Casey Cantelmo says:

    Daron!! Kudos to you! I enjoyed reading this letter & I’m thankful you shared it!

    This lovely letter of yours speaks wonders about you!! I love that instead of pointing the finger to the consumers and pointing out their flaws and UNPROFESSIONALISM, you simply were pointing out where some of the collectors needs to adjust or just seek new careers. Haha. I dig the respect given to the consumers.

    “You are not a superstar, Bill. Well, not in the real sense. They should associate your name with the other stars like you: people like Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, A-Rod, and Jose Canseco. They are just like you, Bill, because in order to achieve any type of success, they had to cheat. So you be of good cheer, because you are in good company. Too bad you don’t have some of the wealth that they do.”

    This little paragraph here…love! One thing I know we share in common Daron is our dignity; I can comfortably speak for both of us when I say that we take pride in our work. It’s done the ethical and honest way, resulting in success.. Keep on encouraging others to do the same!

    Do what ya do and definitely keep sharing!

  • avatar eddymann says:

    I thought this was a very nice article. It is our job as collectors to change the perception of the industry, we can not put that back on the consumers. while yes, in many agencies there are some serious top down issues, Those are the agencies that started the life cycle of a Bill. They are all Bills. The problem is that you have collectors that refuse to change even when they go to an agency that has professional debt collectors. Our agency has hired many many collectors that have the “old school” mentality, and many of them are willing to change once they are given the knowledge and support to do so. But there are still a few that refuse. They think they already know everything about everything and, because they are very poor collectors, are unwilling to change their ways because they can only do it the easy, yet wrong way.

    Again, great article, and I hope some Bills out there read this and take something possitive away from it.

  • avatar Commercial Guy says:

    Excellent article, Daron. While there are undoubtedly some agencies out there with serious “top down” problems, there is not much that we professional debt collectors can do about them. When they are eventually shut down, they will typically open up next door or down the street under a new name and continue to do the same things. Unfortunately, I see this as a legislative and enforcement issue; until the penalties for this type of behavior and business model are made prohibitively expensive, it will continue. The “old school” types that eddymann mentions, however, we can do something about…if they can’t or won’t learn the right (and more effective) way of doing things,. get them out of our shops immediately. Although I am in the commercial end of things where there really is very little regulation, that doesn’t matter. Professionalism always works better, and collects more money, than “beating up” a debtor.

  • avatar cheryl terry says:

    My husband read this letter to me last night. It is awesome! We have been in the ARM industry now for decades and know plenty of Bill’s out there. This article was entertaining, as well as inspirational. Good stuff Daron.

    P.S. If you read this article and it upset you or you don’t know a Bill, then chances are he/she is YOU !!!!

  • avatar robert-leavitt says:

    Excellent Daron! My first day on the job, 38 years ago even before the FDCPA, my Dad who had just purchased the agency “trained” me. He showed me on the 3×5 work card where the client info was, the amount owed, where the consumer info was and notes from previous conversations and said, Bob, most of these are good people who will pay, if you will treat them with dignity and respect and show them that you want to help them find a way to pay. If you use that as your approach, you will be successful. This was a small office of 8 collectors, all of whom were the Bill, you describe Daron. There was yelling and slamming phones down, the works. By my 4th month I was the top collector and hit an all time collection record during my 6th month. Within a year, collectors who did not conform to my Dad’s “training” were replaced with novices like myself who had similar success. One of the important lessons Dad taught me was even though a collector may be a top producer, If they won’t conform to the way he intends to run his agency, they’re gone.

    While our training is much more extensive, the message is still the same and yes, we’ve had to let some great producers go spew their venom somewhere else. Sadly, they always get hired again. As others have said, if it doesn’t start from the top, it’s never going to change.

    Thanks again for speaking out Daron.

  • avatar Mark R Choquette says:

    The “Bill” stories give me cheat pain. It’s everything that is wrong with our industry. We do have integrity and transparency.

  • avatar Mark R Choquette says:

    Don’t we?

    Connect with me on LinkedIn

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/receivables

  • avatar Ranjan Dharmaraja says:

    Great presentation Daron. Let’s not look and read too much into this. It had a great message. But please read what Linda Almonte had to say as well. Daron mentions not calling work 5 times in a day. How many of you have systems that will stop a collector when they try to make that 3rd call in a day or, 15th call in 30 days? How many of you are actively working on addressing this? While we can not change every consumer or every person who works for the industry, we can change OUR thinking and OUR methods that have sometime not changed for 20 years. We will pay a price and fight perception as long as we are perceived to be reactive. This is as opposed to being proactive by setting high standards, making them known and following them.

  • avatar Daron Ratcliff says:

    I don’t know if this is is proper etiquette, but I wanted to thank everyone who has commented on my letter. It’s great to know that our industry has so many people in it that care about it’s wellbeing. We managed to cover this issue from alot of different angles. The angle concerning the “top down” theory was especially enlightening.When I wrote the letter, I did not address this portion of the issue for a reason. I wanted to voice the opinion of the person who just comes in and sits at a desk everyday, contacting consumers trying to do this job right at the agent level. They are the ones who have to sit next to “Bill” on the regular. Our entry level agents don’t always have the luxury of being able to ponder an issue like this on a global scale. For them, the problem is five feet away from them. Their main point of focus is the 100-150 calls that they have to make on any given day, while sitting next to someone like the person I described. That’s why I wrote the letter as a message from one bill collector to another.

    There a alot of great people in the collections industry and you all have validated that statement by responding to this letter. It’s one of the reasons why I like what I do for a living so much.

  • avatar MedCreditCollector Man says:

    Great letter! This is a real eye opener. I see lots of changes in the collections industry also, but please explain this. The relics you speak of are the ones who seem to hit max bonus every month.

    This is upsetting as I hear it everyday. No mini-Miranda, no hippa verification, rude to debtors. Overall cheating in production, such as sitting on inbound and collecting all the easy money while I break my back to meet my production goals is not fair and makes me think I am doing something wrong because I am not maxing out.

    I feel when the director of ops tells you “I don’t care if they say it’s the wrong number or not, DON’T remove it, this is the number our client has on file and if they want calls to stop, they need to write a letter”!

    I mean c’mon! I am beyond frustrated at this point because you tell me one thing and then tell me the opposite.

    /sorry for the rant :)

  • avatar cheryl terry says:

    To: MedCreditCollector – Those who break the law may get rich now but they will pay later and so will the company they work for. Keep doing the right thing, as it is obvious you understand what that is. If YOU see it so does their employer. They can only turn the other cheek for so long before heads roll.

  • avatar aliasincluded says:

    There goes another person blaming “Bill” The obvious evil in the ARM industry is the ARM industry. Every collection agency has made it very clear that to succeed you need to cheat or get “fed” by the manager that happens to be the cousin of whoever is getting paid. Its such a joke! Managers are nowhere near capable of doing what they should and you expect Bill to stop what he is doing. Bill sleeps just fine because he is doing what he/she should do to take care of his family. Does Bill get monitored? Hello it states very clearly on the miranda that the calls are recorded but Bills continues breaking laws and “cashing out”. Bill is encouraged to do what he/she is doing. Bill will simply get a suspension or be sent home, the managers will come out and have some pow-wow to mention how some folks were sent home because they broke laws, Bill comes back a week later, and all the struggling collectors that are most likely struggling because they’re always online or actually following policy and not breaking laws continue with the same old, “Bill is back”? “Yeah he is, you knwo they love em here, he gets money all day” “but he breaks the rules” “SO”?!!!! Why do you think no ARM company in the world provides real training, real lessons to anyone. So many times there is a collector making 20k a year and sits next to a 100k collector. Managers don’t monitor the 100k collectors work efforts to learn and teach it to others simply because they know they can’t give law breaking tips to every collector because you have to be smart to break FCDPA laws, of course you’ll slip sometimes but there is always another agency happy to accept your scams and lies to consumers…just make money!!! I am not a Bill and I have many good friends in the ARM industry that are Bills and not Bills. Those who break/bend FDCPA laws are more likely to get fired or succeed if success comes first then a firing is unlikey but a high pay check is certain. Those who choose to follow FDCPA laws will get fired or quit because some folks cant live on 20k a year and cant stand sitting next to Bill. Thank you.

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