My name is Dmitri. I have filed a small claim against J.Hass Group. The hearing is scheduled in the beginning of April.
Below is my story. This is the letter I sent to J.Hass Group. Sorry for my English.
July 15, 2009 my wife and I signed an Agreement with the J. Hass group in the belief that they were licensed and had the ability to help us to resolve our debt issues. We had two credit cards we would like to settle.
Before that I contacted the Consumer Debt Counselor Group (company acting as a J. Hass Group partner and a middleman, who connected us with the G. Hass Group) and spoke to a telephone representative who assured me that the J. Hass Group would work directly with our creditors and that the accounts would be settled and brought down to a zero balance over the course of a 18 month program.
At the beginning of December 2009, collection agency COLLECTORCORP called us regarding our Bank of America credit card. I explained them that we had an agreement with J. Hass Group who should take care of the account. In response I was informed that the agency had received absolutely no contact from the J. Hass Group. I immediately called the J. Hass Group and expressed my concern. The telephone representative assured me that the account was being handled and I didn’t need to worry. But the collection agency kept calling and warned me about imminent initiation of the case against us.
I made several attempts to bring the J. Hass Group to fulfill its obligations. In fact, the company kept itself aloof from the negotiations and we were enforced to take control of the situation and negotiate the settlement ourselves. As the result, we settled the account without any support from the J. Hass Group.
The situation with our second card turned out even in worse. Inefficiency, passivity, inability or just unwillingness of the J. Hass Group to fulfill its obligations led to the fact that a lawsuit had been started against my wife as she was the primary card holder. Thus, we again were enforced to resolve the situation ourselves.
After 14 months dealing with the J. Hass Group, we discovered the following:
1. All of our accounts had gone into default.
2. Neither our creditors nor collection agencies actually was willing to work with the J. Hass Group.
As the results of the J. Hass Group “service” we have the following:
1. We were forced to work with the collection agency to settle our first card with absolutely no help from the J. Hass Group.
2. Our second card debt increased by roughly $3,000.
3. We ourselves had to resolve the situation with our second card to avoid the lawsuit.
4. We paid to the J. Hass Group for their “service” $2,667.50.
5. We paid account maintenance fee at amount of $657.00.
And that is not counting the fact that our credit score dropped.
I have contacted both the Consumer Debt Counselor Group and the J. Hass Group several times and expressed to them my extreme disappointments of their service. All the representatives with whom I spoke agreed with me and apologized, but when I asked about the refund they referred to the company’s no-refund policy.
We have tried to obtain the refund through Better Business Bureau and Offices of the Attorney General States of Arizona and Washington, but without success. Although the company responded to the agencies, but the information in their letters was either wrong or false.
Summation of the above, I accuse the company of violations of the Client Partnership Agreement on the following items:
– #3. J.Hass Group Responsibilities.
The company violated the Agreement in terms of assistance in negotiations.
– #7. Understanding Program Cost.
The company violated the Addendum in November and December 2009.
– #17. Amendment.
Despite my request the company didn’t send me a signed Amendment and a new Addendum.
– #19. Agreement
The company refunded only $ 587.92 instead of the agreed refund in the amount of $ 1010.20 for breach of its obligations under the negotiations for the first card.
Taking a company to small claims court is one of the tools I do mention in my guide on how to get a refund. It does not make much sense for any company to not issue a full refund when the costs of having to deal with a distant small claims case can be huge.
In light of the current regulatory climate surrounding debt settlement companies and the fact that consumers in debt are perceived to be a disadvantaged class of consumers, it makes little logical sense to not promptly, fully, and cheerfully refund your money.
Winning a small claims case is satisfying, but collecting on it, well, that can be a whole different battle.
The small court suits are probably going to become a bigger issue for debt settlement companies in trouble. As customer service levels drop and fair refunds are not available, more consumers will take legal action on their own. And on top of that, as one tipster (send in your tips here) just mentioned to me, more debt settlement companies are getting sued by bankruptcy trustees for money they took for debt related services prior to a consumer going bankrupt.
In fact J Hass Group has one of those cases going on at the same time. One was filed yesterday and says:
Between January 20, 2009 and October 20, 2009 the debtors transferred the sum
5. or value of at least $6,269.91 to Defendant J. Hass Group LLC for debt consolidation services. Of such amount, only the sum of $1,530.00 was distributed to one creditor, leaving a balance of $4,739.91 retained by Defendant J. Hass Group LLC (“Transfers”).
At the time of said Transfers, the debtors were insolvent or became insolvent as a result of the Transfers.
The Transfers were for the benefit of the Defendant and the debtors did not receive reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the Transfers.
The debtors made the Transfers with the actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors to whom the debtors were indebted on or after the date of the Transfers.
The Transfers set forth in paragraph 5 are avoidable pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 548 as stated therein as it was (a) made with actual intent to hinder, delay or defraud creditors to whom the debtors were indebted on or after the date of the Transfers; or, (b) the debtors received less than reasonable equivalent value in exchange for the Transfers, became insolvent or were insolvent at the time of the Transfers, leaving the debtors with an unreasonably low capital account or leaving the debtors unable to pay their debts as they matured.
The suit also alleges:
- Defendant made false or misleading representations to the debtors, including but not limited the representation that “J. Hass Group eliminates your debt”.
- Defendant directly or indirectly employed a scheme, device, or artifice to mislead the debtors as to the services to be provided to the debtors, and/or otherwise engaged in unfair or deceptive practices towards the debtors.
Here is the full complaint I just referenced above. It might be handy in your case.
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.