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and 5 years later
tuesday, march 25, 2003



collection companies take the cake sometimes.

way back, even before i had a website way back, i had a cellular phone with a company called AirTouch. lovely airtouch was a wreck. their billing was a worse wreck. and it is no surprise that they folded and their service bought out by another company, this one supposedly reputable. before they were so purchased, current and past due accounts and all, my service was shut off and payment demanded. and payment was made.

imagine my surprise when less than a year later i get a letter from Verizon, the new owners, saying that the accounts had been taken over and that i still owed money.

i what?

well, okay. airtouch was a snarled mess, apparently particularly in their billing department, and i'm sure that an over sight at the time would have been easily made. i contacted the new owners and told them it had been paid off. they agreed to mark the account as paid and we left it at that.

we thought.

six month later, another notice came claiming we still owed the company said moneys. i called again and was told to disregard the letter. they were still working through the nasty little mess left behind by airtouch and were expecting more than a few calls from people who were indeed paid in full despite what airtouch's records said.

and nothing more was said.

for five years.

now, over the last few months i have not been opening mail that is obviously from collection agencies. we had no employment and were barely keeping our heads above water. we could not make arrangements. reading the bills and getting depressed by the threats and outlandish interest rates hardly seemed a worthwhile activity. but we now have a job in the house and i made it my duty to go through the largest stack of bills you have ever seen (which may or may not reflect our actual indebtedness) to weed at duplicates and make sure i didn't pay anyone twice. this seemed a reasonable enough practice to me, especially since i must soon add saxy's stack to my stack. since our stacks seperately are bad enoughb without duplicates, with duplicates would have been far too depressing to contemplate.

and in this stack i found a collections notice. for. the. airtouch. bill.

so i called said collections agency and told them this had been paid FIVE YEARS AGO. they want to see a canceled check. i don't have the check, i stressed, i don't even have the bill. it's been five years! they will not clear it without proof, they say.

so then i call verizon and go through fifteen dozen customer service representatives before finally reaching the one to whom i am supposed to speak. guess what? they want a copy of the canceled check as well. or a copy of the discharge letter. i repeat the earlier statement of this being FIVE YEARS OLD and not having records that far back (do you keep every bill YOU'VE paid for FIVE YEARS?), but the dear lady insists that i must have a canceled check or a discharge letter for them to clear it. not once have i ever received a letter from any collection agency or other service (with the exception of things like books) saying that my account had been paid. then the dear woman, in an effort to be helpful, suggest i go to my bank and ask them to research my payments to airtouch and verizon for that time period.

beg pardon? i am supposed to spend MORE money to prove that YOU screwed up? research costs lady! and in my case, it REALLY costs.

see, at the time i was a member of a little bank and had my husband with me on a joint account. that joint account was closed and a new all me account opened. then the bank got eaten by another, larger bank. not only do i not remember the old account number, but the bank would have to research through a system they no longer use at the tune of $20 an hour. in addition, i seriously doubt i paid the $410 all at once, so we would have to try to figure out every single check number ever sent to them and research all of them, plus the mystery missing check to make sure all the amounts match. the estimate at minimum is $160.

perhaps i should tell them i will pay as soon as they pay my bank the money to prove that i didn't pay them. it's their screw up, not mine, they should cover it. oh, yes, i forgot, she did say they would reimburse me if i could prove it. like they'd admit the total amount i paid was the total amount due anyway. not likely.

i can speak of this in a rather sarcastic one today. you should have seen yesterday.

on second thought, maybe not.

site of the moment:
sakura kingdom

ring/clique of the moment:
freewrite
word of the moment: compel

to drive or urge forcefully or irresistibly; to cause to do or occur by overwhelming pressure


 


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