Every day for the past eight months, Dell has called Kat to demand payment for a bill she doesn’t owe. Kat unfortunately inherited the phone number of a Dell debtor when she started a new job, something Dell would rather overlook—along with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Kat has tried calling, escalating, and having the debtor tell Dell to leave her alone. Dell continually assures her that the problem has been fixed. And then they call again.
She recently sent us the Executive Email Carpet Bomb she lobbed towards Dell’s headquarters:
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
This is my last resort. I am writing today to share with you a problem that has become so excessive over the last eight months that I no longer know what to do with it. I have given up the idea of ever having a Dell hassle-free life so I am just trying to live mine by minimizing their interruptions in my day to day life. Here is my story:
I am not a Dell customer. I DO NOT OWN ANY DELL PRODUCTS (AND I NEVER WILL). I got a new job last July and for my job I inherited a very important phone number that all of my clients have used for the past seven years. I work for an extremely small non-profit (i.e. I am the only paid employee) and I work with youth and their families. I have 30 families who move around often and the only way we keep in contact is through this stable phone number so changing my number was not and option.
In August 2007 I started receiving calls from the Dell collection center in India. The calls were not for me or my job, they were for the man who previously had my job and phone number. He linked his personal Dell account to his then work phone number. The first ten times Dell called I gave them the previous employee’s new phone number and asked them to remove my number from that account as it was no longer current… But the calls kept coming….
Steps I have taken to avoid hearing from Dell:
1) I notified the person they were trying to reach. I had him call and change his contact information. He did that and Dell assured him the problem was solved and that they would not call me again. But the calls kept coming…
2) I had 6 lengthy conversations with supervisors at the Dell Call Center in India. Sometimes they would give me a badge number, recording ID, their name and one time in a thick Indian accent I was told I was speaking with a “Michelle Woodward” for the record. Dell promised the problem was solved and that they would not call me again. But the calls kept coming…
3) I called the customer service line on Dell’s website. Since I am not a Dell customer and I don’t even know what item they want me to pay for that I do not own, it was a long and frustrating call. In the end Dell assured me the problem was solved and that they would not call me again. But the calls kept coming…
Now, 8 months later, Dell calls my work phone up to three times daily. I finally bought a new phone (but I can’t change the number because I need it to do my job) just so I could set it to ring silently when Dell calls. I try to ignore the calls the best I can, but recently the calls have started coming from local DC numbers as well as the Indian 800 number. I am sometimes fooled into answering the local calls only to find that I am again on the phone with a company where I am not a customer.
Now I understand that people must lie and give fake phone numbers to dodge paying for their stuff. I am sympathetic to a point about how hard it must be to streamline a system. But I have done everything in my power to point Dell in the right direction, but they refuse to take my number out of the system. Dell you don’t want me. Please leave me alone.
Finally someone suggested that I write to consumerist. I saw the Dell executive emails on your site, so I will be CCing this email to them as well. All of them. We will see if they respond. Maybe I will start calling them three times a day.
Dell’s used up call girl
We see that Kat cc’d Lawrence Tu, Dell’s General Counsel, who should be able to recognize that Dell is flagrantly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. 15 U.S.C. 1692c(b) states:
Except as provided in section 1692b of this title, without the prior consent of the consumer given directly to the debt collector, or the express permission of a court of competent jurisdiction, or as reasonably necessary to effectuate a postjudgment judicial remedy, a debt collector may not communicate, in connection with the collection of any debt, with any person other than the consumer, his attorney, a consumer reporting agency if otherwise permitted by law, the creditor, the attorney of the creditor, or the attorney of the debt collector.
We’re not sure if Kat has standing to sue Dell for harassment under the Act, but maybe a helpful consumer lawyer can appear in the comments and offer some advice.