To begin with, I had defaulted on my student loans. This was not due to laziness, trying to shirk my
responsibilities, or anything like that. It was, quite simply, because I was unable. My income hasn't been enough so that I could afford the extra, over and above living expenses and such. So the debt was relegated to the company EOS, CCA. They offered a very nice package, a rehabilitation program to pay it off. I was told that as long as I made 9 consecutive payments, the debt would stop having as much impact on my debt record, and a large percentage of the collection fees would be dropped off. At payments of $300 a month, my monthly budget would be tight, but I could make them. I was happy with the program, I could start working it off. This was in August of 2010 that I started the program (keep that in mind, their records show the same).
Then, as the economy went chaotic, jobs disappeared and such. I lost the good job I had. I had enough saved to make another EOS payment, plus my rent. I made these payments, and desperately began to search for other work. I found it just in the nick of time, and resumed payments. It was a restaurant job, low hours, and it wasn't much. I was basically making enough to cover all of my bills...plus about $20-30. I was using EBT and meals during shifts in order to actually eat. But I still kept up the payments, even if only barely. And then that job left me as well, as sales dwindled. And as I hadn't been making much, I hadn't had anything saved. So, it looked like I was going to miss the payment in May of 2011. I stressed over it and rent, finally managing to barely borrow enough for rent. EOS called, but as I did not know when I could pay, I let them go to voicemail. I stressed, and I worried, and I eyed the Sword of Damocles hanging over me.
Then I got new work. Pretty decent, with almost guaranteed promotion when the guy above me left in a few months. Again, I was ecstatic. However, money was still tight as I caught up with everything else. But, when EOS called again, on June 19th, I was ready. It would hurt, but I was ready to make the May payment, and the June payment. It would overdraft my account, but I was willing to accept that, pay that back to the bank ASAP, in order to square up my account with EOS. It was still stressful, and worrying. The woman, however, informed me that the program provided
that I could miss one payment. So, the May payment was forgiven. They understood, things happen, etc. Weight was released from my shoulders. So, I arranged to make June's payment on the following Wednesday, the 27th. She cheerfully informed that that would be fine, I actually had until July 5th to make the payment without being dropped from the program.
On the 27th, they called me as I had arranged. However, I had worked 3rd shift the night before, and I slept through the call. No voicemail was left or anything. I didn't worry about it, I had their assurances, I assumed they'd call back. Note that I had never saved their number. All of the payments were automatically scheduled for direct debit. They called if there was a problem, so I didn't bother. I know, this was an oversight on my part. I waited for them to call back. No call. I waited more. No call. Stress building again, that sword reappearing over my head. Finally, I tried to call them, July 3rd, 2 days before the cut off. Did not have the number any more, I had apparently received enough other calls that it had been bumped from phone memory. Tried to look online. Their website does not list their phone number, even under the Hotline tab. I finally had to look up their physical address, use it on YellowPages.com, and call that number. This was July 4th, and they were closed for the holiday.
So, I tried again on the morning of July 5th. At about 8:30-9am, I got a recorded notice that the office was closed until 8am Central time (for an office in Massachusetts). I tried again at 2:15- 2:30pm. I spoke to an operator/customer service rep. She couldn't see my account, transferred me to another department. That person couldn't see my account either, transferred me to yet another department. Finally, this person told me that I would have to contact the US Department of Education, make the payment there, and that the government agency would be able to continue me on the program. Okay, fine. I had a bite for lunch, called the number they provided me at about 3:15. After dealing with the voice directory, I finally spoke to an actual person. This person informed me that they could do nothing of the sort. In fact, this was nothing but an information line, they couldn't take payments or even discuss outstanding balances at all.
At this point, I was rather irked. I went digging through my old phone records, my trash, anything to find an alternate number for EOS. Finally, I found the 1-800 number, and I called. This was at about 4 pm. I was informed that I was dropped from the program. When I said that I had been told I had until the5th, first they argued that no, I was told the 27th. I countered with No, I arranged for the 27th, but I was told I had until the 5th. He paused, said that was correct, and then he put me on hold and went to search more.
He then came back to tell me that I had missed a payment. I told him that was correct, but I had been told on the 19th that one missed payment was provided for in the program. Otherwise, I had been willing to overdraft my account to make the payment. I had been ready to pay then, but the woman had reassured me it would be fine. He paused, said that was correct, and then he put me on hold and went to search more.
Then he came back to tell me that the payment had to be in by 3:30 pm. I told him that: A) no one had informed me of any cut off time, leaving me with the impression that it simply had to be in by close of business day. B) I had called before 3:30, been transferred through 2-3 departments, no one had been able to find my account in order to accept the money that I had had ready. Instead, they had told me to call some other number, that apparently had nothing to do with any of it. He paused, he stammered...he finally transferred me to someone else.
The final person's only real counters were: A) He didn't know who I had spoken to, and he's sorry they couldn't find my account. B) I should've had the number, he's called and left several messages. If true, these were all from BEFORE June 19th, when I was unable to pay. On June 19th, I spoke to representative of the company. She provided with rules, deadlines, and information. This was all that I had to act on. I acted on this information in good faith, trying to make the payment by the date she had given me. Instead, I had one representative putting me repeatedly on hold in order to come up with spurious arguments why I had been dropped just before completing the program,
followed by another person citing phone calls made BEFORE I had arranged to make things right again.
They make it difficult to contact them, unless you save the number from which they call you. Their website does not list a phone number at all (under the Hotline tab, it simply states what information they can and cannot share via E-mail, and then gives their physical address). At the tail end of the program, I began to receive conflicting information. People I spoke to either could not find my account to take my last payment, or tried to come with any reason possible to deny me completion of the program. And by my calculations, August 2010 through April 2011 is 9