Seven years ago, there was a dispute over my AT&T residential telephone bill. It’s my understanding that this occurred as I was moving from one apartment to another.
It was paid in full approximately seven years ago.
AT&T continued to send the account to collections repeatedly, including the same collection agency over and over again, over the years. Every time they did so, I would call the collection agency, inform them that the bill had been paid, and offer to fax or mail the documentation. At one point, I called AT&T itself, spoke to several different employees, and faxed the information for their files.
AT&T continued to send the bill to collections agencies, including the same agency, over and over.
I’ve amassed a nice little pile of paperwork, documenting all of this.
I finally sent a certified letter to the collection agency a couple of years ago, documenting all of the conversations I’ve had, all the documentation I’ve sent, copying all of it for them. I still have the signature card from the certified letter.
When I applied for a mortgage earlier this year, I pulled all of my credit reports, and found references to a collection for this account. That ticked me off, but I dutifully wrote and disputed the account with each one of the three reporting agencies, and it was removed. My mortgage then went through without a problem.
The statute of limitations for collecting old debt is seven years.
My mother got a phone call this morning from the same collection agency I’d sent the certified letter to, telling her to have me call them immediately. She called me at work in a little bit of a panic, and I called. As I suspected, AT&T had turned the account over to collections again.
I told the woman on the phone that they were not to contact me any longer, that it had been paid seven years ago, and that further attempts to collect on this debt would result in legal action. I informed her that I had successfully disputed the account on my credit reports. Her response? It was about to be reported on my credit reports.
I admit I lost my temper a bit. I do feel a bit bad for that; I know the woman’s just doing a job, and that she doesn’t have any control over that. I try to remember this when I’m talking with customer service operators in general. They’re generally stuck with what their companies tell them to do. I could not help it.
This, to me, looks like an attempt to revive a debt that would expire shortly on the seven year statute of limitations. It’s an attempt to collect a fee.
I’m putting together the formal certified letters to the collection agency and to AT&T again. I’ll be pulling my credit reports before I apply for any major loans, which I don’t expect to do right away (since I’ve bought my house just this year, and my car is still fairly new). One more contact from any collection agency about this PAID bill will have me calling the family civil attorney (I’ve not done civil work since law school) to initiate legal action.
As long as AT&T is the only provider that carries the iPhone, I will not have one. I refuse to do business with AT&T. I will continue to tell others about the lousy experience I have had with the company.
Meanwhile, Verizon’s got better service where I live, and I do really like my BlackBerry. I’m okay with not having an iPhone. But they have permanently lost any business that I might have brought them.