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Secret Shopper Debt Settlement Call. How Do You Think They Did?

Yesterday I made my first secret shopper call after the FTC TSR went fully into force. My vote of the call yesterday was a FAIL. You can read my comments on that call here.

So today I decided to call the exact same company back and confirm what the sales representative had told me yesterday. That didn’t happen. Today I was told a slightly different story on fees and how it works. If I understand it correctly, of the first 16 payments, 70% is held for fees that will be earned when debts are eventually settled.

If you listen to the call in the mindset of a scared and nervous consumer the way the service is explained becomes very confusing. In fact I’m not sure I totally understand what the fees were. Are they 33% or $12,000?

Even the math doesn’t add up. If the monthly payment is $814 and that includes the $84.95 monthly fee that leaves $729.05 that is split 70-30 or $510.33 in fees that’s deposited but 16 of those payments only equals $8,165.36 and not $12,000.

What seems more likely is the $84.95 is actually not included in the monthly payment as stated.

Listen to the call and post your observations and comments below.

Secret Shopper Debt Settlement Call. How Do You Think They Did?
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Steve Rhode

    No, that’s my third call.

  • ComplianceSlave

    I would like to see the contract. very much…….. Steve, did you get that far?

  • http://www.ftc.gov ComplianceSlave

    I would like to see the contract. very much…….. Steve, did you get that far?

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      No, that’s my third call.

  • Joe_debt_jr

    Leo, the comment posted I believe did add some value, since the purpose of analyzing the recording of the sales conversation clearly proves that consumers are being left to deal with highly unexperience counselors and therefore alot of the information was not crystal clear allowing the consumer to have an understanding on what they are getting involved in. As far as this counselor you say is just trying to offer something he feels is helpful, I strongly believe that any counselors or agents that are dealing with someone’s financial matters should take it really seriously and learn, study the nature of the business and not just read off a script provided by their company. Some of these reps don’t understand that they are also held accountable for any misleading or giving false information to the consumer. Anyone taking on a new position should always question the integrity of what they are doing and not wait until an FBI Agent comes storming into the office and shuts the place down. All these comments and opinions made on this post should be a great training ground for any companies offering debt settlement so this is free place that offers constant feedbacks on what is being done wrong and what should be done right.

  • Damon Day

    Hello Leo
    the more you get to know the players in the industry, you will understand it has nothing to do with training for most of these outfits. It is about mindset, and straight up most of these outfits have continually shown no desire to change if it effects their bottom lines. After all that has happened, if some guy is still running an operation that screws consumers as much as this one clearly does, I will be happy to lead the charge to close them down. If they routinely lie to consumers, they don’t need training, they need to be out of business

  • Steve Rhode

    Leo,

    I have not done that yet and up till now I’ve helped some companies that want to “fly right” as I can. It’s funny though, this is the second time today someone has said this to me. Maybe it’s a sign?

    Steve

  • Leo Gomez

    Steve, have any of these companies ever tried to hire you? To help coach / improve their processes? Seems like that’d be a great route to take if you’re trying to improve the way your sales people are communicating with people about important / private information like this… Especially after reading some of your other posts; you’ve done a ton of work and research into what not to do… you could probably make a positive impact helping these companies help the people their going to help anyways… everyone is struggling right now.

    The comment “The Bulb” made below is a great place to start.. of course.

    The two remarks made by your colleagues Damon and Joe Debt Jr. didn’t seem to offer much value though… why put someone down who is offering what he feels is helpful.

    Most companies with call center operations need constant training. Hell… I’ve been running my business for 30+ years and I continue to seek training and ways to improve.

    Best,
    Leo

  • Steve Rhode

    What I struggle with understanding is if it takes 16 months to accumulate the fees first and then save money to settle a debt, isn’t a consumer more likely to get sued during the delay and so no settlement will happen and the consumer will bail, making the company $0.

    How about the fact I said the debt was primarily cash advances and that seemed fine to settle easily as well.

    When you hear me say I’m confused when he’s talking about fees, that wasn’t an act, I was genuinely confused. I was hoping when I listened to it latter it would make more sense. I was wrong.

    I’ll have to make a third call soon and see if I get a different explanation of the program. So far, I’ve made two calls and I’ve been told two different stories on fees, and these guys actually work at the debt settlement company.

  • Damon Day

    This guy, at least with a used car salesman you usually get something you can use

  • Joe_debt_jr

    he even said that law went into effect on Oct 26th. lol

  • Joe_debt_jr

    I wonder what is worse, use car salesmen or this guy?

  • Bulb

    This right here is what you call a perfectly good waste of sixteen thousand dollars (fine for violations of new TSR’s).

    The call was pretty much a disgust.

    I, the Bulb, here by offer my consulting services to TSR compliant companies whereby I will train your entire staff on how to properly present your service, still close deals with those suitable to attempt settlement, while maintaining strict compliance.

    Lesson number one is a freebie and will provide the necessary foundation for all future training:

    1. Do not lie.

    The Bulb

  • Bulb

    This right here is what you call a perfectly good waste of sixteen thousand dollars (fine for violations of new TSR’s).

    The call was pretty much a disgust.

    I, the Bulb, here by offer my consulting services to TSR compliant companies whereby I will train your entire staff on how to properly present your service, still close deals with those suitable to attempt settlement, while maintaining strict compliance.

    Lesson number one is a freebie and will provide the necessary foundation for all future training:

    1. Do not lie.

    The Bulb

    • Anonymous

      I wonder what is worse, use car salesmen or this guy?

      • http://DamonDay.com Damon Day

        This guy, at least with a used car salesman you usually get something you can use

  • Damon Day

    I don’t even know where to start with this guy. The sad thing is that this is a pretty typical conversation when you call a debt settlement person. This guy doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. I like how he is now an expert on the FTC law, and then pretends that he is compliant. You notice how he always has a long pause before he gives you a big lie. The little lies just roll off like nothing, but he hesitates on the big ones.

    Example. So I will have an attorney in NC represent me?…..pause……pause….pause…pause…ABSOLUTELY

    Let me ask a question, he said that you would be communicating with the office in TX and they do the negotiating at the office in TX. What is this phantom attorney who he doesn’t even know going to be doing in NC? He isn’t getting paid by the consumers, the consumer is not putting this attorney on retainer. This attorney is not negotiating on behalf of the client. John doesn’t even know who or where this supposed attorney is. But rest assured you have one. What is this attorney? Just a freaking pen pal? If I am paying 84.95 “to have this attorney engaged” in my case, what they heck is he going to be doing?

    It just pisses me off so bad when these guys talk about these bad settlement companies that used to charge 15% of debt and charged up front. You have to stay away, what we do is better, we charge 15% of debt also, but we pretend it isn’t a percentage and we also charge up front, we just leave it in the trust account. This is the same as it has always been. The bad actors warning people about the bad actors and hoping you don’t realize that 12,000 is 15% of 80,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Then he says these bad guys used to charge 15% of your debt, so we don’t do that. We also don’t charge you upfront, we just hold 70% of your money so your creditors can’t have it.

    These geniuses have absolutely no clue about how to help a client successfully settle their debts. They are taking 70% of the payment and supposedly holding it in the trust account. For what? To make sure the creditors don’t get it and settle the debt sooner? They are not even smart enough to figure out that they are actually making sure that they will have to wait longer to actually get paid because it is going to take the client 3 times longer to raise the money for settlement.

    These geniuses are going to end up with a ton of money in fees just sitting in an escrow account doing nothing. All the while their idiotic letters they sent to the creditors is going to cause their clients to get sued. Then the client wants to know the number of the NC Attorney he has been paying so much money for. Only to find out that that is another fee because the paperwork was quite clear in the fine print, that you are not paying 12,000 for legal representation. You are paying for a pen pal attorney but not for actual representation.

    Its time for pitch forks.

  • http://DamonDay.com Damon Day

    I don’t even know where to start with this guy. The sad thing is that this is a pretty typical conversation when you call a debt settlement person. This guy doesn’t have a clue what he is talking about. I like how he is now an expert on the FTC law, and then pretends that he is compliant. You notice how he always has a long pause before he gives you a big lie. The little lies just roll off like nothing, but he hesitates on the big ones.

    Example. So I will have an attorney in NC represent me?…..pause……pause….pause…pause…ABSOLUTELY

    Let me ask a question, he said that you would be communicating with the office in TX and they do the negotiating at the office in TX. What is this phantom attorney who he doesn’t even know going to be doing in NC? He isn’t getting paid by the consumers, the consumer is not putting this attorney on retainer. This attorney is not negotiating on behalf of the client. John doesn’t even know who or where this supposed attorney is. But rest assured you have one. What is this attorney? Just a freaking pen pal? If I am paying 84.95 “to have this attorney engaged” in my case, what they heck is he going to be doing?

    It just pisses me off so bad when these guys talk about these bad settlement companies that used to charge 15% of debt and charged up front. You have to stay away, what we do is better, we charge 15% of debt also, but we pretend it isn’t a percentage and we also charge up front, we just leave it in the trust account. This is the same as it has always been. The bad actors warning people about the bad actors and hoping you don’t realize that 12,000 is 15% of 80,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. Then he says these bad guys used to charge 15% of your debt, so we don’t do that. We also don’t charge you upfront, we just hold 70% of your money so your creditors can’t have it.

    These geniuses have absolutely no clue about how to help a client successfully settle their debts. They are taking 70% of the payment and supposedly holding it in the trust account. For what? To make sure the creditors don’t get it and settle the debt sooner? They are not even smart enough to figure out that they are actually making sure that they will have to wait longer to actually get paid because it is going to take the client 3 times longer to raise the money for settlement.

    These geniuses are going to end up with a ton of money in fees just sitting in an escrow account doing nothing. All the while their idiotic letters they sent to the creditors is going to cause their clients to get sued. Then the client wants to know the number of the NC Attorney he has been paying so much money for. Only to find out that that is another fee because the paperwork was quite clear in the fine print, that you are not paying 12,000 for legal representation. You are paying for a pen pal attorney but not for actual representation.

    Its time for pitch forks.

    • Anonymous

      he even said that law went into effect on Oct 26th. lol

  • Joe_debt_jr

    Oh my… epic fail on this one. First of all there was no transparency on explanation on how the program actually works, what time frame the first account will get settled off and last the fees are outrageous high. What’s funny Steve, is that when you ask the guy, “what is the fees again? isn’t something like 10% or a percentage of debt right?” The rep responded, “its not really a percentage, I mean, we don’t like, there used to be these debt settlement companies does do 15 to 20% settlement charge. Ours isn’t its just depends on your debt load.” lol. So he went on to say what the attorneys charge is based on $80k which is $12k? Isn’t that 15% fee of the total debt? The overall payment structure is the same as the old model except now they are saying they will not collect that fee from the trust account until an account has been settled. So mathematically that is insane business model. If you knew you couldn’t collect until an account is settled, why tact on so much fees at the beginning of the 16months as if it’s an original. Let’s calculate this reps plan. Total Debt Owed: $80,000. Attorney Fees: $12,000. Monthly Maintenance: $84.95. I am assuming based on his $814 for 60 months, that means, money that is being set aside is calculated at 40% which comes to be: $32,000. So total program cost to you Steve is $49,097 includes all fees and set aside funds. Since they are also setting aside their portion of their fees, for the first 16 months, that means out of the $814, $750 + $84.95 cents is for fees taken out each month for the first 16 months. If that is the real case, Steve you would be paying for fees only and nothing can actually be saved for the first 16 months. Since your fees is $12,000 divide by 16 months =$750. Now add $84.95 for the first 16months. That will leave you nothing. I wonder who is this attorney he keeps mentioning that is different from other attorneys that doesn’t charge 15% to 20% but they do charge 15% plus a ridiculous monthly fee of $84.95. Just that monthly itself is already $5,097 dollars. Now come on, must these folks be that greedy. Don’t they see how this industry is now being viewed as scammers. This call you made just justified that indeed the debt business is nothing but bunch of scam artist, squeezing as much fees as they can and portray as if they are counselors that genuinely wants to help the consumer.

  • Anonymous

    Oh my… epic fail on this one. First of all there was no transparency on explanation on how the program actually works, what time frame the first account will get settled off and last the fees are outrageous high. What’s funny Steve, is that when you ask the guy, “what is the fees again? isn’t something like 10% or a percentage of debt right?” The rep responded, “its not really a percentage, I mean, we don’t like, there used to be these debt settlement companies does do 15 to 20% settlement charge. Ours isn’t its just depends on your debt load.” lol. So he went on to say what the attorneys charge is based on $80k which is $12k? Isn’t that 15% fee of the total debt? The overall payment structure is the same as the old model except now they are saying they will not collect that fee from the trust account until an account has been settled. So mathematically that is insane business model. If you knew you couldn’t collect until an account is settled, why tact on so much fees at the beginning of the 16months as if it’s an original. Let’s calculate this reps plan. Total Debt Owed: $80,000. Attorney Fees: $12,000. Monthly Maintenance: $84.95. I am assuming based on his $814 for 60 months, that means, money that is being set aside is calculated at 40% which comes to be: $32,000. So total program cost to you Steve is $49,097 includes all fees and set aside funds. Since they are also setting aside their portion of their fees, for the first 16 months, that means out of the $814, $750 + $84.95 cents is for fees taken out each month for the first 16 months. If that is the real case, Steve you would be paying for fees only and nothing can actually be saved for the first 16 months. Since your fees is $12,000 divide by 16 months =$750. Now add $84.95 for the first 16months. That will leave you nothing. I wonder who is this attorney he keeps mentioning that is different from other attorneys that doesn’t charge 15% to 20% but they do charge 15% plus a ridiculous monthly fee of $84.95. Just that monthly itself is already $5,097 dollars. Now come on, must these folks be that greedy. Don’t they see how this industry is now being viewed as scammers. This call you made just justified that indeed the debt business is nothing but bunch of scam artist, squeezing as much fees as they can and portray as if they are counselors that genuinely wants to help the consumer.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      What I struggle with understanding is if it takes 16 months to accumulate the fees first and then save money to settle a debt, isn’t a consumer more likely to get sued during the delay and so no settlement will happen and the consumer will bail, making the company $0.

      How about the fact I said the debt was primarily cash advances and that seemed fine to settle easily as well.

      When you hear me say I’m confused when he’s talking about fees, that wasn’t an act, I was genuinely confused. I was hoping when I listened to it latter it would make more sense. I was wrong.

      I’ll have to make a third call soon and see if I get a different explanation of the program. So far, I’ve made two calls and I’ve been told two different stories on fees, and these guys actually work at the debt settlement company.

      • Leo Gomez

        Steve, have any of these companies ever tried to hire you? To help coach / improve their processes? Seems like that’d be a great route to take if you’re trying to improve the way your sales people are communicating with people about important / private information like this… Especially after reading some of your other posts; you’ve done a ton of work and research into what not to do… you could probably make a positive impact helping these companies help the people their going to help anyways… everyone is struggling right now.

        The comment “The Bulb” made below is a great place to start.. of course.

        The two remarks made by your colleagues Damon and Joe Debt Jr. didn’t seem to offer much value though… why put someone down who is offering what he feels is helpful.

        Most companies with call center operations need constant training. Hell… I’ve been running my business for 30+ years and I continue to seek training and ways to improve.

        Best,
        Leo

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Leo,

        I have not done that yet and up till now I’ve helped some companies that want to “fly right” as I can. It’s funny though, this is the second time today someone has said this to me. Maybe it’s a sign?

        Steve

      • http://DamonDay.com Damon Day

        Hello Leo
        the more you get to know the players in the industry, you will understand it has nothing to do with training for most of these outfits. It is about mindset, and straight up most of these outfits have continually shown no desire to change if it effects their bottom lines. After all that has happened, if some guy is still running an operation that screws consumers as much as this one clearly does, I will be happy to lead the charge to close them down. If they routinely lie to consumers, they don’t need training, they need to be out of business

      • Anonymous

        Leo, the comment posted I believe did add some value, since the purpose of analyzing the recording of the sales conversation clearly proves that consumers are being left to deal with highly unexperience counselors and therefore alot of the information was not crystal clear allowing the consumer to have an understanding on what they are getting involved in. As far as this counselor you say is just trying to offer something he feels is helpful, I strongly believe that any counselors or agents that are dealing with someone’s financial matters should take it really seriously and learn, study the nature of the business and not just read off a script provided by their company. Some of these reps don’t understand that they are also held accountable for any misleading or giving false information to the consumer. Anyone taking on a new position should always question the integrity of what they are doing and not wait until an FBI Agent comes storming into the office and shuts the place down. All these comments and opinions made on this post should be a great training ground for any companies offering debt settlement so this is free place that offers constant feedbacks on what is being done wrong and what should be done right.

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