What sort of people get collection letters?
"A particular type of people are continually our customers. Namely, the ordinary."
Heidi - Service advisor
One of the most common misconceptions is that the only people, who receive letters from a debt collection agency are payday loan customers whose financial affairs are spiralling hopelessly out of control or people on the fringes of society. This could not be further from the truth however, as the majority of the letters we send go to entirely ordinary people, including parents, young adults and retired people. Heidi, our customer service advisor, deals with our debtor customers every day and is always working to help them out. We wanted to give her the opportunity to discuss her work and how people, in her experience, see debt collection these days.
“The first thing to say is that our debtor customers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Each and every one of them has their own story. Fairly often, when we contact them they are dealing with a temporary situation that can be sorted out. Sometimes payments get missed by complete mistake. People simply forget to pay their bills sometimes,” Heidi says.
No reason for alarm
For many, a letter from a debt collection agency can come completely out of the blue and be quite an alarming experience. This is particularly the case for people who have never dealt with a debt collection agency before and are unfamiliar with how the process works.
“Unfortunately, most people simply don’t understand what it is that we do. People often think that if they’ve received a letter, they will automatically get a payment default entry as well and that the bailiffs will be turning up at their door. I think this is why debt collection letters are associated with such shame, and this sense that you’re somehow a bad person because you’ve not paid an invoice. This is obviously not the case at all, and, happily, my job is to tell people that it’s not a disaster or emergency. In fact it’s a great opportunity to get things sorted out. Sometimes people are really delighted that they have a chance to make up a repayment plan, having at first thought that they had permanently wrecked their credit record,” Heidi says.
In global terms, Finns are very diligent payers and a commitment to keeping your word is also very much part of the national character. This also comes across in the conversations we have with our debtor customers, and the majority of the people we deal with are genuinely keen to pay.
“Above all, what we do is offer help to people, and a key part of helping them is finding a payment solution that suits our debtor customers’ own individual circumstances. Also, when we put a repayment plan in place together it seems much more direct and personal, and people really want to make sure they stick to it. For me, the real highlight of my job are the moments when you’ve worked hard together for a result and people get their affairs back on track.”
Dealing with the unexpected
The world is changing and making accurate financial predictions, even when it comes to your own private finances, is becoming more difficult. It is entirely possible that, in future, debt collection will play a growing role in people’s lives.
“I think debt collection services are here to stay because life can be unpredictable. For example, you might need a loan to pay for a repair on your car that you use to get to work every day. Something like that might be enough to leave people with some temporary financial difficulties. Happily, what we are seeing is that the industry is constantly introducing improvements, and gaining more of a human touch. I really hope more people realise that dealing with a collection agency is nothing to be ashamed about. After all, we’re here to help,” she points out.