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Economy

[Crank calls]

Adventures in debt reduction

No wonder it’s not a good idea to talk to telemarketers

Friday, February 20, 5:38 p.m.

“This is Jane with Credit Contact at 866-213-7580. I’m calling about your high credit-card balances. I … think there is a good chance that we can reduce your credit-card debt to zero with our assistance program. It is very important that you try to call me. Again, my name is Jane, and my phone number is 866-213-7580.”

I get these damn calls all the time. But they sound so friendly; the scripts sound so professional, so actorly. I like that empathetic pause “Jane” puts before “think.” Makes me feel appreciated. My credit card bills are okay, last time I checked. But I think I’ll call back.

Monday, March 2, 9:20 a.m.

Kenny G music. A woman picks up. “We’re offering a program to eliminate your debt …”

“Okay. But tell me how you got my number?”

“I don’t know how. I think we just called you randomly … ”

She’s just the setup woman.

“Can I get your name, sir?”

“Todd.”

“And your last name.”

“Let’s just stick with first names.”

“For the free information, tell them your debt is at least $6,000 and you have high interest rates.”

“$6,000?”

“You need to have at least $5,000 in debt.”

“$5,000 or 6,000?

“$5,000 will be fine, sir. Since you didn’t want to give your last name, I’m gonna type your last name as Davis.”

“What?”

“Davis.”

“Okay.”

“Don’t tell the representative I told you this. I’m just helping you get the free information. And don’t tell them your debt is under $5,000. Tell them it’s at least five …”

A few second later, another voice comes on. “What’s your debt?”

Let’s see what happens if we lowball it. “Four hundred or five hundred dollars.”

A pause. “Four hundred or five hundred dollars wouldn’t qualify …”

“Oh, what do I need?”

“Five thousand …”

“Oh …”

Monday, February 23, 5:49 p.m.

“Hi. This is Amanda from the Debt Services Group at 866-260-2104. I’m calling about your credit-card bills. We have a credit-modification program that will allow you to eliminate up to 90 percent of your existing balances. This modification program is only for card holders that are having a hard time making your minimum payments. If you would like to hear more, please give me a call at 866-260-2104.”

Hmm. Sounds friendly.

Monday, March 2, 9:28 a.m.

I ask for “Amanda.” She’s not in.

“Would you like to speak with an agent regarding reducing your debt?”

“Sure.”

“And how much debt are you dealing with right now? Just an estimate.”

“I don’t know. Maybe four or five hundred dollars.”

Click.

Tuesday, March 3, 9:10 a.m.

One more time

“Would you like to speak to an agent about lowering your debt?”

“Sure.”

“If you don’t mind my asking, how much do you owe?”

“About $5,000.”

“Is this all from credit cards?”

“Yes?”

“In order to set up your consultation, I just need your name.”

“Todd.”

“And your last name.”

“Davis.”

“I’m going to transfer you. Just tell them you owe a little more than $5,000.”

And

Busy signal.

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