Among all the means of consumer protection Provided by lawmakers to Americans during the pandemic, debt collection forgiveness was not one of them. While emergency laws allow people to place certain forms of debt such as Student loans And the Mortgages And enduringly, people whose debts took other forms – such as credit cards, car loans and payday loans – had virtually no legal protection. Quiet debt collection Hum along The epidemic has caused mass death, disease and unemployment.
Not only have collections firms have continued to operate over the past year, they have also shifted work overseas to low-cost labor markets with the high unemployment rate in the US. BuzzFeed News spoke to someone who worked in Tijuana, Mexico, which is an office of a US fundraising company. A request to reveal his identity under a pseudonym to protect his identity Rick, a 20-year-old Mexican citizen, said that for 10 hours a day, he logged into an automated call system that moved agents like himself through hundreds of calls in succession. He remembered that he was trying to extract money from people who simply did not have them, and even one person who was being treated in hospital for coronavirus. He said, “It feels bad because I also have my debts.” Earlier this year, he resigned.
Here’s Rick’s story edited for clarity and length.
I was unemployed In 2020 because I recently moved to Tijuana. I saw a job ad on Facebook, and I had some friends who were working there who said they are being recruited to serve clients and groups. The advertisement made it seem like it was a customer service job because you need to get customer service experience. It wasn’t until I started training that they said we’d be gathering people who were calling and trying to make payments. And when we gained more experience, we would make calls to clients. I do not know.
I backed off a bit because of that because they weren’t up front though. I used to work in call centers before, but for customer service, not groups. So it was scary to me. But I needed the job. So I did my best. We only had two weeks to learn everything in training. Since English is not the first language for some of us (my first language is Spanish), we needed to learn new words like “deferment” and “balloon payment” and what is a borrower and creditor. So it was fun and challenging at the same time.
I used to go at 6 am and work 10 hours a day until 4 pm due to the Coronavirus, we sat with two seats separate from each other. We always had to wear face masks. There were about 90 agents in the team.
We have a system that always communicates with itself all day long. The account number appears automatically on the screen, and we will be able to access the account. But the connection does not take more than 30 seconds, so we will have a minute or less to see their information and the amount owed on them. We just have to go in and start the call without knowing much about the account history. Sometimes the system just connects us and people will actually say, “Hey? Hello?” I didn’t feel ready to take care of something so important with little time to prepare. This is definitely something that should be improved as people are going through tough times.
Usually, the system makes more than 200 calls per day, and vice versa. Most of them did not respond. I was talking to about 50 people a day. All clients were US residents. They were mostly personal loans and car loans. If I need to go to the restroom or if I need a break, I can put myself on a job to stop taking calls, although the moderators didn’t quite like it.
We do not really control how often we contact a customer. We don’t have a system that we know. Sometimes a person receives 10 calls, and this has been exacerbated by this. Sometimes we communicate with the same person in one day, and we have to pretend we don’t know them or apologize to them.
One time my colleague called someone, and she was really pissed off. She said she received at least 20 calls that day, that she will not pay, and that she is done. She was actually in the hospital. She said she has already lost her husband to COVID, and is now in hospital with COVID getting oxygen and in very bad condition. But really, someone else will probably try to call her after a couple of hours, and the next day, because, again, there’s not much we can do about the calls.
There are some metrics we have to meet. But it wasn’t about how much money we raised. We got quality assurance agent on Customer Service. They are trained to rate our calls. We had our texts, and there were some texts we needed to say word for word, literally. So they rated the customer service we provided mostly accordingly; If you only miss one word, for example, you will get zero. I was doing well.
In our scripts, you first go through the verification process. When it was time to collect, the consumer was explaining the situation, for example due to coronavirus or due to inactivity, they were unable to pay. We’ll have to try at least twice to get a boost. We could offer some deferrals, for example, or maybe a payment plan. On a typical day, more than half of the people I spoke to were unable to pay anything. Zero dollars.
It feels bad because I also have debt. I also have things to pay for. So trying to get them to pay wasn’t easy for me. Even without the pandemic, it is difficult to ask for money. But it is even more challenging when you know that everyone goes through something that has affected so many people. I felt a little bit guilty when asking people for money – but at the same time, we had to keep going. We were not caught trying to help [the consumer]; We were just there to collect it, which is something the moderators reminded us of throughout the entire experience.
My salary was around 3000 MXN [$150] In the week. We are really close to San Diego, so we tend to have a high cost of renting here. So, I mean, I can stand up to that. Nothing compared to someone who’s gone to college. But honestly, I know that since it’s an American company, they might pay more.
Mostly the job was to get people angry at you because you were bothering them and trying to raise money. Due to my experience working in call centers since I was 17, I was used to people screaming at me. But it gets tough at the end of the day. It’s hard for someone to yell at you and tell you mean things. I quit a debt collection job in February. I’d like to do something else. I guess the reason I’m still at a call center now is because I’m used to it. In fact, it pays better than other jobs because it is American companies. ●