Attitude is everything. Especially if you are in customer service. A real life example between the difference of good customer service and shitty customer service.
A lady called Brian and told him she was calling to collect on a medical debt, stating that it had been turned over to a collection agency. Brian calmly apologized and explained that we just had a baby, so money has been a little tight and he is willing to work out a different payment option. The woman asked him how much he could pay and he told her the amount. She refused to give him a physical address to send a check to, saying she could only take payments over the phone by check or credit card. She wanted to set up a 3-month pay off plan or settle the balance for less than was owed. Brian explained that he does not hand out personal information over the phone and if she would like a payment, to give him the address and she could put down in the notes on his account that they spoke and that he was mailing out a payment. (Dave Ramsey says not to give external debt collecting companies your bank account info, as they could bleed you dry). She refused again to give him an address, saying that he had to pay today on the phone. She was very rude and bullied him. I overheard the conversation and told him to stand his ground and get the address, or he would call up the hospital himself and make payments that way if she couldn't help him. She heard me talking to him and demanded to put me on the phone.
I told her that we just had a baby and really couldn't afford to pay more than x amount of dollars, can she please give me the address in which to send a check? She told me no, that she could not give the address and I said well I don't hand out personal information on the phone. She said we either had to pay the balance in full or take a hit to our credit if we mailed out a payment via check. My response? "And? What's your point?" She got a little deflated after that and said that she had sent out a letter with their address on it, and I said I did not receive any letter from your company, only the hospital, so that is where I will be sending my payments to. She yelled "Then I will note it in your account that you would not be reasonable and chose a different option!" So I said politely, sweetly, "Thank you, have a nice day."
A lady called me not even 10 minutes later and asked if I knew that my account was in default for another hospital bill. I told her I was very sorry that I was not paying, we just had a baby and things are quite hectic around here. She told me she understood completely, and was wondering if I would be willing to work out a payment arrangement? I told her that I was, and asked what my options were. She said I could do a 3-month plan and pay it that way, or pay the balance in full. I told her I did not think I would be able to afford the payment plan and she told me that she could turn my account over to an internal debt collector and they would be able to set up smaller payments for me. I told her I wasn't wanting to go that route, and she said that many of their accounts end up over there and that it does not reflect on our credit reports. Many patients can't afford to pay lump sums or even standard payments, and this is just how corporate has it set up. I thanked her again and said if I go the 3-month route and can't pay what will happen? It will be turned over to the internal service and you can set up smaller payments if you need to. I told her we will try the 3 month route because I want to keep my account in good standing, do you need me to make a payment today over the phone (see what I did there?) and she said no, we will send you out a new statement and you can pay online at your convenience. "thank you, have a nice day."
What a nice lady.
Both of these calls were about the same thing: We owed money to someone and hadn't paid it. One lady was sweet and understanding, the other was a vicious shark. Honey and vinegar, and this fly prefers the honey.
As an interesting side note, I Googled the first company and found their address on their website. We are still going to call the hospital and confirm it was indeed handed over to a collections agency and ask where it is we should send our payments to.
Anyway, one day at a time. Lucky me, all of our important bills are paid this month so I think I will be able to afford my hospital bills.