In all consumer protection Debt relief is not one of the things that lawmakers have extended to Americans during the epidemic. Although emergency law allows people to take out certain debts such as student loans and mortgages, in tolerance, those whose debts take other forms – such as credit cards, auto and payday loans – have no legal protection. Outbreaks appear to be exacerbated by the death toll, disease, and unemployment.
Over the past year, not only have procurement agencies been working, but they have stopped working in the low-cost labor market as the unemployment rate in the United States has risen. BuzzFeed News spoke to a man who worked in Tijuana, Mexico, in the office of an American third-party collection company. He said to be identified with a pseudonym to protect his identity. “Rick,” a 20-year-old and a Mexican citizen, said that 10 hours a day he logged into an automated call system that churned out hundreds of calls from agents like him, back-to-back. He thinks there were attempts to extort money from people who did not have it, even from a person who was hospitalized for the coronavirus. “It feels bad because I have ts, too,” he said. He resigned earlier this year.
Here’s Rick’s story, edited for clarity and length.
I was unemployed In 2020 because I recently moved here to Tijuana. I saw a job ad on Facebook, and I had some friends who were working there who said it was hiring for customer service and collection. The ad looked like it was a customer service job because you have to have customer service experience. Until I started training they said we were going to collect from people who were calling and trying to pay. And when we had more experience, we would call customers out. I did not know.
I was thrown a bit away by it because they weren’t really with it. I used to work for the call center, but for customer service, not for collection. So it was kind of scary for me. But I needed the job. So I tried my best. We only had two weeks to learn everything in training. Since English is not the first language for any of us (my first language is Spanish), we need to learn new words like “delay” and “balloon payment” and what the borrower and creditor are. So it was interesting and challenging at the same time.
I slept at 6am and worked from 10am to 4pm a day because of Kovid, we sat in two seats next to each other. We always had to wear masks. There were about 90 agents in the team.
We have a system that dials itself all day long. The account number automatically pops up on the screen, and we can access the account. But it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds to dial, so it will take us a minute or less to see their information and how much they owe. Without knowing much about the history of the account we just have to go inside and start the call. Sometimes the system just connects to us and people are already saying, “Hello? Hello?” In such a short time of preparation I did not feel ready to take care of anything so important. It should definitely improve them because people are going through bad times.
Typically, the system will dial more than 200 calls per day, back-to-back. Most of them did not answer. I talked to about 50 people every day. All customers were in the United States. It was mostly personal loans and auto loans. If I need to go to the restroom or if I need a break, I can put myself in a function to stop receiving calls, even though the supervisors didn’t like it.
We have no control over how many times we actually call the customer. We have no way of knowing. Sometimes a person gets 10 calls, and they get excited by it. Sometimes we want to reconnect with the same person on the same day, and we have to pretend we don’t know them or apologize to them.
Once, my coworker called one and he was really crazy. She said she got at least 20 calls that day and she wasn’t going to pay, she was on top of it. He was actually in the hospital. She said she actually lost her husband to Kovid, and now she got Kovid oxygen at the hospital and was in a very bad condition. But really, someone else will probably try to contact him two hours later and the next day, because, again, we couldn’t really do much about the calls.
There are some metrics that we need to meet. But it was not about how much money we collected. A quality assurance agent has scored us in our “Customer Service”. They were trained to evaluate our calls. We had scripts, and there were some scripts that needed to be said word for word, word for word. So they have evaluated the customer service offered to us mostly accordingly; If you miss a single word, for example, you get a zero. I was right.
In our scripts, you first go through the verification process. When it was time to collect, the consumer would explain the situation, such as because of Kovid or not working, they could not pay. We need to try at least twice to get the payment. We may offer some delays, for example, or maybe a payment plan. On a typical day, more than half of the people I spoke to couldn’t give anything away. Zero dollars.
It feels bad because I have ts too. I have to pay the price too. So it was not easy for me to try to give them money. Even without the epidemic, it is difficult to ask for money. But it’s a challenge when you know that everyone is going through something that has affected a lot of people. I felt a little guilty for asking people for money – but at the same time, we had to continue our work. We were not involved in trying to help [the consumer]; We were there just for the collection, and that’s something our supervisors reminded us of throughout our entire experience.
My salary was about 3,000 Mexican pesos [$150] Every week. We’re really close to San Diego, so we have higher rental costs here. So, I mean, I’m able to survive with it. It’s nothing compared to anyone who went to college. But to be honest, I know that since this is an American company, they can pay more.
The job was to get most people angry at you because you were bothering them and trying to collect. Because of my experience working in a call center since I was 17, I used to scream at myself. But at the end of the day it’s hard; It’s hard for someone to yell at you and explain something to you. I quit my job as a debt collector in February. I want to do something else. I think the reason why I’m still working for a call center is because I’m used to it. And it actually pays better than other jobs, since they are American companies. 3