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Why is ClearOne Advantage Charging Me More Than Allowed in My State?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I want to keep my info private for now because I need to contact the appropriate authorities such as the Texas OCCC, Attorney General, and anyone else who can help me.

Long story short I was not happy with my services from ClearOne and decided to seek the help of an attorney with my debts. After seeking the help of an attorney it has come to my attention that Clear One was charging me fees above what is allowed by Texas law even though they appear to be licensed in Texas.

The fee cap is 20% and they are charging me 25% plus possibly an additional 2%. I requested a refund of fees paid to ClearOne because their contract is invalid but they argued that they were allowed to charge 25% fees.

Also, it appears they are not allowed to have an arbitration clause in my state. I brought this to Clear One’s attention with a management person named Andrew but he said they were allowed to charge 25% in Texas and would not give me any refund.

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FI/htm/FI.394.htm

(h) Settlement fees authorized under Subsection (g)(3)(B) may be charged only as debts are settled, and the total aggregate amount of fees charged to a consumer under this subchapter, including fees charged under Subsections (g)(1) and (2), may not exceed 20 percent of the principal amount of debt included in the debt management plan.
(2) a waiver of the right to a jury trial, if applicable, in an action brought by or against a consumer;

Any other suggestions on who I should complain to? If you want to post this information on your site please feel free. Thanks!

Answer:

Dear Unhappy,

I reached out to Tomas Gordon, the CEO of ClearOne Advantage, by email on October 24, 2019. As of the time of publication I have not received a response.

From the material you sent it does appear you are being charged a 25% fee.

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Since you already have a relationship with an attorney who is hopefully licensed in Texas, you should direct all legal questions to them.

I’m reaching for possible answers here to give ClearOne Advantage some room to adjust their position.

From the contracts and information, you sent me it does show any place to list a physical address. When the agreement was drafted maybe there is a very slim chance ClearOne didn’t realize you lived in Texas? Shrug.

These unfortunate situations when a consumer feels less than stellar about their debt relief company always seem like a missed opportunity for the company.

It feels as if the fundamental issue here was your unhappiness with the level of customer service you were getting. That then drove you to find alternative solutions. And when the issue was brought up, rather than just falling on the sword and providing you with a mutually agreeable response, you felt your position or request was not properly considered.

After running a debt relief company myself, my position is in situations like this it is always better for all concerned to give the consumer a refund and part as friends. But maybe that’s just me. I’d much rather have had a former client walk away saying it didn’t work out but I felt treated fairly.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

ClearOne could have offered you a refund of the fees above 20% and have potentially won over a dissatisfied customer and avoided this post and your other complaints to authorities.

I previously wrote How to Handle a Consumer Complaint Like a Pro And Come Out Smelling Like a Rose and nearly all companies seem to disregard the advice. They feel like they are right and dig their heels in. They make the situation personal instead of being pragmatic.

Ironically, the companies who embrace the make the customer happy philosophy have few people complaining about their service and they never appear on my radar. I am aware of companies where the policy is if the consumer asks for a refund, give it to them.

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When it comes to trying to get a refund if you feel unsatisfied with the service delivered by any debt relief company, you may want to read How to Get Your Money Back From a Debt Relief Company if You Feel Like You’ve Been Scammed.

As you can see in that guide I start with the most reasonable step, “Start with the company you are having an issue with. Give them a chance to deal with your issue and if you can’t negotiate a resolution that seems acceptable to both you and the company then it’s time to start documenting your concerns.” It seems like you may have already started with that step.

I would love for this situation to have a happy ending and hope you and/or ClearOne Advantage can come back in the comments section and post an update on how you both came to a meeting of the minds that resulted in you both feeling somewhat happy.


Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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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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