I've had an extremely ugly and upsetting contact with an RPM employee who is trying to make me pay a bill that belongs to a former client.
I'm an accountant in Florida. My niche in the business is to go to client's offices and do their bookkeeping on site. A big percentage of my work involves setting up computer accounting programs correctly and either teaching a client's employee to do the day to day grind or, in some cases, to visit the client's office periodically and do the bookkeeping myself. My problem with RPM is based on the second case and involves a client I worked for in the first half of 2007, over two years ago.
Since I was visiting my client weekly and taking care of his accounts payable, he would give his vendors my name and tell them what day to call back to reach me. But in May of 2007 he closed his business. I heard he was moving out of state but I do not know for sure that he did. At any rate, I haven't had contact with him since that time.
I started getting calls on my cell phone from someone at RPM using the client's business name. I returned the call and asked for the person who'd left his name in my voice mail. The man who answered the phone (not the one I asked for) asked me my cell phone number and name. He then told me I'm responsible for a bill from Verizon in the name of the client's business. I told him that couldn't be correct, that I had worked for the business briefly two years ago but that it wasn't my company.
He told me that Verizon had reported me as a responsible party for the bill. Again I tried to explain the situation but the man on the phone kept interrupting me, basically saying I'm responsible and I have to pay the bill. I asked him at one point to stop for a moment. His response was an irrational escalation of indignation. He practically hollered into the phone What did you say to me???
I decided to switch tactics and asked who I could talk to at Verizon that might be able to correct the misinformation. I was informed that Verizon wouldn't talk about the account now that it had been transferred to RPM. He also told me he was going to contact the credit ratings bureaus and make sure this was listed on my credit report. He never used foul language or said anything that would appear in print to be openly nasty, but his tone was belligerent and highly agitated, and it seems to me that putting this matter on my credit report qualified as a threat. He was talking fast and totally unwilling to listen to anything I tried to say.
I then had a question formulated in my own mind to wit: Try to put yourself in my position, and help me understand how I can fix this. However, he interrupted me (again) to say, and I quote, I have not been rude to you, and I'm terminating this conversation. Then he hung up on me.
I can take the advice of previous posts and send a letter to RPM to stop the calls. But the part about my own credit rating being affected negatively because of someone I did some work for two years ago is unfair and unethical, and the demeanor of the man on the phone reeked of the kind of nasty bullying that RPM's apologists try to sweep under the rug or pretend doesn't exist. Trust me, it exists.
For the record, I would have been willing to try to help locate the client. He would probably be perfectly happy to pay the bill if he even knew it existed. But after being treated like that there is no way I will ever cooperate with that company. Instead, I'm going to take the hit to my credit rating, write this note up on the internet, and give a full accounting of the situation to my congressman. Considering the current economic crisis I'd imagine a lot of people are being hounded by collection agencies and I'd bet many of them are being bullied unfairly, just like me. And also considering the government's desire to stimulate the credit industry it seems like bringing our local politicians into the fray might be prudent under the circumstances.
So my advice is, if you're being hounded and bullied by a collection agency, especially RPM, write to your representative. You can look up his/her address on the internet. Be honest about whether it's a debt you truly owe, because even if that's so, you shouldn't have to put up with the kind of harassment I endured from RPM yesterday. We working people didn't create the economic crisis and we're suffering with it enough without having to deal with people of this ilk.