The Softer Side of Sears’ Ruthless Debt Collection

When you’re out of job and aiming to repay a loan, the chances of you reaching a sympathetic representative is like finding a needle in a pit of jagged, used syringes.

But Amy somehow managed to find one with Sears / Citicards. The rep was very understanding about her situation. He offered her a solution: she could pay back a very small amount every month, to be autodeducted from her account. After a year, she’d be bumped back up to her previous minimum payment.

An excellent, understanding, human compromise: the sort of thing we like to air clap here at the Consumerist. Amy loyally paid the agreed upon amount.

Of course, that didn’t stop Sears / Citicards from selling her account to a collection agency anyway… whom, needless to say, was a lot less understanding about her situation.

Amy’s email, plea for advice after the jump:

I have an account with Sears/ CitiCards which I had to default on because of a job loss. When I called to make arrangements with them, the rep was very understanding of my situation and offered me an arrangement for a small payment amount for a year after which the payment amount would go back to the original minimum payment (a re-aging of the account). When I received a letter from a collection agency only 9 months later ( I had been making the agreed payments the whole time) I called to see what the deal was. They said that the amount was insufficient and the account was charged off and sent to the recovery dept. without notifying me that there was a problem with the original agreement or what their intentions were. They admitted that sending it to a collection agency was a mistake and recalled the account. When I called after the agreement for the year was up to make new arrangements, they told me I had to make an outrageous “down payment” and then monthly payments after that. All the while, they have been collecting the original agreed upon payments on the same day each month. And they cannot seem to locate the person I made the agreement with or explain to me how they can sell my account to an outside collection agency and charge it off while continuing to collect the payments I originally agreed to. And that I can’t do anything about it because I didn’t receive a letter from them stating what the original agreement was. I’m so sick of dealing with rude, heartless creditors who wouldn’t care if you were laid off and living under a bridge. They want their money and try to scare you with statements such as “You are forcing us to pursue taking legal action”‘ or “we will turn this matter over to our attorney”.Or they start asking all kinds of questions about how much your mortgage payment, utilities, and car payments are. I even had a rep from Credit Management Services rattle off my and my husband’s SS numbers to me without verifying my identity. All over $300. I had a rep from West Asset Management rag me out for having DSL. For crying out loud, I operate a business from home now and I use the internet a lot. Not to mention, there are usually penalties for cancelling your service before your contract is up, so you can’t just discontinue service when things get tough…then the collection agencies will be calling you about that too. What else can I do?