Many people look at complaints as something bad and unwanted; a complaint is made by someone who is in no way happy with you, your product or the services you have provided. Here at Total Debt Freedom we welcome complaints, to us it is free advice on what or where we went wrong. It gives us the opportunity to get to the root cause so we can correct our mistake and make it right.
This image is a complaint received by the BBB from a client of Total Debt Freedom. To protect our client’s privacy, we have not published their name and censored any identifying marks about the creditor.
Let’s look at the key points of this BBB complaint
1. Client says that “Creditor will not deal with Total Debt Freedom under any circumstances” and that we are unfairly taking fees.
2. “Total Debt Freedom said they had an offer in Aug 2011, this was a lie. This creditor will not deal with them”
I’ll address the key points of the complaint in order. In the pursuit of transparency, we disclose all details of how the program works. Fundamental to the success of the program all unsecured debt must be enrolled for it to work. We routinely settle debt with many creditors including the creditor our client was complaining about and its 3rd party collection agencies.
The client states that we are collecting money on an account that we cannot settle. See the electronic entry below, we have and are able to settle with this creditor.
On the off chance that we are unable to settle an account, we have a service guarantee outlined in our contract which states that if we are unable to reduce the balance on any enrolled debt by at least 15% we will refund the client our administration fee on that particular account.
So what went wrong? The client is convinced that this creditor will not work with us when in actuality we demonstrated we are able to arrange settlements with them, therefore feels as though we are collecting funds on an account that we cannot settle.
Prior to this client filing his BBB complaint, I spoke to him personally and talked about examples of settlements we have routinely arranged with this creditor. By the end of the conversation, I felt as though he understood and trusted in our ability to negotiate a reduction in his debt.
So what could we have done better? I could have offered to send him copies of settlement letters with this creditor that we had previously arranged, I feel as though this would have provided him with comfort and proof to our success. We also could have reminded him of our service guarantee instead of assuming he was aware of it.
In his second point, he states that we lied about a settlement that was arranged between this creditor and our client.
We had a verbal agreement in place with the3rd party collection agency to settle the debt for less than what was owed. The next natural step is to secure the settlement agreement in writing, to do that the agency must get written approval from the creditor. When the creditor did their formal review of the offer, it was declined due to another credit card with the same bank being active and up to date. This is exactly the situation that can compromise the success of the program.
Creditors simply will not settle if they see a credit item maintained and in good standing. See the electronic entry below with further details.
So what went wrong? The client failed to disclose that he had this account that he was using and keeping in good standing. When a consumer chooses to enrol into our program, we complete the enrolment with a Welcome Call.
Throughout the Welcome Call we ask a series of questions to ensure we have all the facts, one of them being “Do you have any creditors that you are not enrolling into our program?” As to which this client had said “No”. I’ve retrieved the recording from our records with this client, you can hear it by clicking on this link. Client Welcome Call
So what could we have done better? We could have asked a follow up question like “Do you understand that knowingly excluding a unsecured debt from the program could have a negitive impact on the success of our team negotiating a settlement” We have since added this follow up question to our welcome call, but at the end of the day we talk about this during the consultation, and during the welcome call, and need to put some trust that our clients are being completely honest with us and not withholding information.
Here’s my big take away Sometimes simply asking one question is not enough, using a few follow up questions can really help you gauge the clients understanding and gain the information to make things right.
Our response to the BBB complaint was accepted and the matter was closed by their office. You can view our current A+ BBB Rating here.
If you have any questions, please post below, or simply contact me at CRFO@TotalDebtFreedom.ca.
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