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Dear Melissa. The Conflict Between Debt Relief Sales and Consumer Needs

Last week a commenter who only would identify themselves as Melissa came into the site and said she worked for a debt relief company and made a number of statements about her role with what appears to be a debt settlement company.

Some of those comments included:

“I am proud of the work we are doing here but our company management has a very strict policy regarding quoting the company name in any posts that staff makes in social media and online blogs. We unfortunately are not permitted to give our company name or use our company email address in Facebook/ Twitter posts etc. or any blog comments that we participate in.”

So the shadows and hiding it will be then.

And most importantly:

“At our company if it is best we will refer our potential client based on their unique situation to a provider of another option, credit counseling, consolidation lender or a bankruptcy attorney (we are looking into a good DIY option too). Remember a referal is not always about a fee, most often it’s about a “reciprocal” referral. We do not take on every inquiry that comes our way but we try to earn something from every potential client even if it’s a referral.

A somewhat heated debate ensued with others chiming in as well. People that appeared to be defending Melissa could see nothing wrong with her comments and company positions. They felt was company was acting responsibility. Others took exception.

The issue surrounded the intentions and goals of the debt relief company, who she was not willing to identify for apparent fear of losing her job, and the fiduciary needs of the consumer.

“A fiduciary duty is the highest standard of care at either equity or law. A fiduciary (abbreviation fid) is expected to be extremely loyal to the person to whom he owes the duty (the “principal”): he must not put his personal interests before the duty, and must not profit from his position as a fiduciary, unless the principal consents.”

Dear Melissa. The Conflict Between Debt Relief Sales and Consumer Needs

The conversation brought up the fundamental flaw in the tug-of-war between the goals of the consumer and the goals of the debt relief company.

From Melissa’s point of view her company was not doing anything wrong and she was perfectly happy they were unwilling to come out from the shadows and stand up for what they believed in. Nor did she take issue with the company intention of maximizing the value or return from every consumer that contacted them or asked for help.

I certainly understand why companies want to maximize the income potential in dollars or referral value. The company has a goal, to maximize profit and serve the company officers well. Melissa and other likeminded employees feel they are doing a great service, and they might be for their debt relief company. But not for the consumer. They can’t when the goals are opposed.

In fact it would be next to impossible for the vast majority of debt relief companies to actually put the needs of the consumer first. Because if they did, they would have to understand the consumer situation, educate the consumer, send them away to independently investigate each option including the one they offered, and then provide help without any expectation of being rewarded or receiving any value from that consumer. That’s unrealistic for most debt relief companies, isn’t it?

People in trouble are looking for fair, independent, balanced and honest advice about their situation. They are looking for a savior, not a salesperson.

They hope for an assessment of what is best for them. But a company that provided service like that would go out of business in short order.

Dear Melissa. The Conflict Between Debt Relief Sales and Consumer Needs

“Let’s see what I can do to maximize the value of this patient for the hospital and then we will worry about saving them.”

I wonder how people would feel being upsold as they were wheeled into the emergency room with chest pains. Are they not expecting the best and most professional care for their condition?

Imagine a car dealership that sent people to the competing dealer next door when they asked about higher fuel milage cars for sale. Or the airline that sent consumers to their competitor when cheaper seats were available there. That’s ridiculous.

And it is also ridiculous for debt relief employees to assume they are doing what is best or right for the consumer, when they are doing what is best for the company.

The company that Melissa works for has gagged her from being open and transparent about who they are. I wonder if they are so afraid and ashamed of their policies that they can’t step into the light of day. That certainly gives you pause as well. If I was a consumer it would certainly make me question the integrity of debt relief providers who can’t be proud and open of their company and policies.

Show us your programs, client agreements, fees, and performance results. What do you have to fear? Are you proud or ashamed of the facts?

The intentions of this debt relief company, who Melissa defended as doing a good job of helping people is also the same company she had this to say about. “A potential client can be referred to another debt relief option to be better served and often a referral fee can be earned for the company, sending the client to another debt relief option need not be a lost opportunity to make money.

I get it.

This same conflict exists between consumers and credit counselors, mortgage assistance companies, student loan rescue outfits, bankruptcy attorneys, and most certainly companies that settle debt. Basically the conflict is inherent in any debt relief organization where employees are measured by the sales and revenue they bring in and certainly those where commissions are paid.

So I’d love to hear about any specific example of any debt relief provider that does not put emphasis on exchange for value or maximizing consumer revenue but truly puts the needs of the consumer first.

Anyone willing to come out of the shadows and take credit for doing that and share how you make that happen?

I’m all ears.

Dear Melissa. The Conflict Between Debt Relief Sales and Consumer Needs
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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.

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