In September, I got a call from the Takhar Group, telling me I owed some money to Crafter’s Choice for a book club membership whose conditions I failed to satisfy. At the time, they gave me the account number and the phone number of the claimant. I called them, and they looked up the account. It had my name on it, and an address that looked suspiciously like (but not exactly like) the address where I grew up. This, of course, is somewhere I haven’t lived in a decade, and I certainly haven’t been ordering books on crafting to be sent there. The Crafter’s Choice book club folks agreed that this was obviously not me, and that I’m not responsible for the account, and closed it out with virtually no hassle at all. I did not hear from either company, though I did receive written confirmation from Crafter’s Choice that the matter was settled, and I can ignore further harassment about the issue.
Last week I started getting called, twice a day, but the Takhar group. They never leave a message, but when I picked up, it was “we’re a collection agency, you owe Crafter’s Choice money, we’re going to negatively impact your credit if you don’t deal with it.” Different account number, different amount, but same spiel as before. I inform my new friend in the Indian call center that I will contact Crafter’s Choice and deal with it. He said that he couldn’t give me any information on how to do that, as it would defeat the purpose of his business. We then argued for about fifteen minutes, during which he kept pressuring me to just pay the money to them, rather than try to deal with this myself. I should “be a good person” and “do right by myself” and “do the good thing” and so forth.
Yes. I would be a hell of a good person to donate money to a company for a debt I didn’t originate. I finally managed to crawl off the phone, and called Crafter’s Choice and said it was fraudulent, and without any questions at all they cleared it out and said I no longer owe anything.
This really weirds me out. The fact that it’s so trivial to cancel money I owe them makes this sound far more like a scam than anything legitimate. They confirmed with me that they would notify Takhar as before, and I would not be harassed about the matter further.
The next two business days I’m called by Takhar again, twice a day. I got another call today, and answered, and it was the same song and dance. I told them I’d contacted Crafter’s Choice and that the issue was resolved, and then I was pressured, incessantly, to pay the money to them, and do the right thing. I asked that they not contact me about this account again, as it’s been settled. The lady kept harassing me, telling me if it’s settled, I should just pay them. And if it’s settled, why haven’t they been notified? I should just pay them, and make it go away. This sort of ridiculous logic continued for ten minutes before I got fed up and told the girl (who had quite good English, unlike the previous agents), as impolitely as I could, to go fuck herself.
Isn’t there a name for something where you’re being harassed to pay them off so they stop harassing you?
Oh right, that word is extortion.
I’m sure the Takhar Group has a lot of legitimate debts it’s trying to collect. And I’m sure their Indian call center full of bullies harassing consumers on the line is effective at extorting money out of many people who do, in fact, owe money. But from my experience with them, I’m being harassed for a debt I don’t have (I dont, erm, craft, for one thing), didn’t originate, and for which I have put forth every effort I can to clear up (other than just paying them off).
Update on December 3rd
I keep getting called twice a day by Takhar, still. I contacted the book club service center again, and they indicated it was settled, but it might take as long as a week for them to report the information to Takhar, so I can expect that I’ll continue to be harassed for another week or so.
By law I can request that they stop harassing me. But I have to do so in writing, and there is no address available anywhere on the Takhar group’s website, nor will any agent at Takhar give me their address. So they make it really fucking hard to do this. Additionally, it’s pretty obvious that it will take at least a week for them to process any sort of mail in that regard, when I factor in the time it takes for me to send something like that in the mail. The system is broken.
Update on December 9th
Still getting called daily. Talked to the guy again, though the conversation went roughly like this:
Agent in India: “Hello, this is the Takh..”
Me: “Shut the fuck up and listen to me.”
Long story short.
The agent at the collection agency asked me to pay $70 and settle my debt. The agent at the collection agency agreed that I’d cleared the debt with Crafter’s Choice! That I owed nobody anything. That they had a record of this, and there was no reason for them to still be contacting me. But, since I was being belligerent, he was not going to make any note of this, and ensure that my credit gets wrecked. I was belligerent because I’ve been repeating myself to the collectors about this issue for a week now, and tired of them not doing things when I am polite. I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do as a consumer. Other than just pay them off.
I convinced him “to do the good thing,” but who knows if he actually will. We’ll see.
Update on December 11th
Still being harassed daily.
Update on December 16th
Last call was on the 12th. Talked to the most disinterested and bored agent ever. He kept saying he was calling from an agency in New York. Right. Maybe that’s where they’re headquartered. But anyway, he agreed I didn’t owe anything, and they shouldn’t be calling me, and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. Haven’t heard back since. Yet.