For all consumer safety that lawmakers repatriated the American people during the epidemic, debt relief was not one of them. Whereas emergency law allows people to incur debt as student loans and mortgages patiently, people whose loans took other forms – such as credit cards, cars, and mortgage payments – were not legally protected. Debt settlement quietly in one heart as the plague claimed many lives, sickness, and unemployment.
Not only did the collection industry still operate last year, they also abandoned low-cost jobs in the low-cost market as the number of unemployed people in the US grew. BuzzFeed News spoke with a man who worked in Tijuana, Mexico, the office of an American company setting up three groups. He asked to be identified with a false name in order to protect himself. “Rick,” a 20-year-old Mexican national, said that for 10 hours a day, he was involved in phone calls interrupting agents like him via hundreds of cell phones, back to back. He recalled trying to raise money for people who did not have it, and even one person who was being treated in the hospital for a coronavirus. “It hurts me because I also have my debts,” he said. Earlier this year, he resigned.
Here is Rick’s story, which has been adapted for clarity and length.
I was unemployed in 2020 because I moved here to Tijuana. I saw ads on Facebook, and I had friends who worked there who said they were looking for customers and donations. The ad made it seem like this was a customer service activity because you need to know more about the customer. Until I started training where he said we would be collecting from people who call and try to pay for it. And the more experience we have, the more we visit customers. I did not know.
I was a little disappointed with this because he wasn’t really up front. I work on a social media site already, but a client, not a donation. That’s why it was so dangerous for me. But I want the job. So I tried my best. We had only two weeks to learn everything in the course. Since English is not the first language of the rest of us (my first language is Spanish), we had to learn new words like “deferer” and “balloon payment” and what both the borrower and the lender are. The result was fun and challenging at the same time.
I got in at 6:00 am and worked 10 hours a day until 4:00 pm Thanks to COVID, we were seated two separate seats. We should always wear our face. There were 90 sponsors in the group.
We have a system that sings by itself all day long. The account number appears only on the screen, and we can access the account. But the call doesn’t last more than 30 seconds, so we have one or less minutes to see how much and how much debt he owes. We need to log in and start calling without knowing more about your account history. Sometimes the system just connects us and people keep saying, “Hello? Hello?” I didn’t feel like I was ready to take care of something important when I had so little time to prepare. This is something they need to change because people are facing difficulties.
In most cases, the system is able to make more than 200 calls a day, back to back. Most of them did not respond. I talk to about 50 people a day. All customers were in the US. It was mainly personal loans and car loans. If I need to go to the bathroom or if I want to rest, I can defend myself to stop receiving calls, even though the supervisors didn’t like this.
We do not have the ability to calculate how many times we order a client. We have no system of knowledge. Sometimes a person receives 10 calls, and is frustrated by this. Sometimes we would reconnect with the same person one day, and we would act as if we did not know or apologize to them.
One time a friend of mine called for a man, and he became very angry. He said he received at least 20 phone calls the same day, and that he was not paying, he ended up with them. He was in the hospital. She also said that her husband had died of COVID, and was now in the hospital with COVID receiving respite and in critical condition. But the truth is, one can try to contact him after two hours, and the next day, because, there is not much we can do about music.
There are some tools we need to deal with. But it was not about the money we collected. The health care provider has found us on our “clients”. He was trained to test our calling. We had our notes, and there were other notes we had to say word for word, word for word. He therefore tested how customers help us especially based on this; if you miss one word, for example, you may get zero. I was doing well.
In our text, first look at the verification process. At the time of collection, the buyer discloses the status quo, such as because of COVID or due to inactivity, he was unable to pay. We have to try twice to get it. We may offer additional services, for example, or a payment system. On a typical day, more than half of the people I talk to can’t afford anything. Zero dollars.
It’s bad because I have debts too. I have things to pay for. So trying to pay for it was not easy for me. Even without the plague, it is hard to ask for money. But it is very difficult when you know that everyone is going through a lot that has affected many people. I felt I was wrong to ask people for money – but at the same time, we had to continue with our work. We didn’t join them in trying to help [the consumer]; we just sat down to collect it, and that’s something our supervisors reminded us of all this time.
My salary was about 3,000 pesos in Mexico [$150] per week. We are very close to San Diego, which is why we have a very high price here. That is why, I mean, I can survive with this. Nothing compared to someone who went to college. But, honestly, I know that since it’s an American company, it could be that they pay a lot more.
The job was mainly people who were angry with you because you were harassing them and trying to collect them. Having been able to work on social media since I was 17, I was used to being ridiculed. But it’s hard at the end of the day; it is difficult for someone to speak up and tell you the wrong things. I quit my debt collection job in February. I want to do something else. I think the reason I’m still using the social network here is because I’m used to it. And it pays better than other jobs since it’s American companies. ●