Well, here it is - all my dirty little collection secrets... some of them anyway.
when i first started in the industry i was trained by and ended up becoming part of a team known as the Contractors... we were the shit - the best - the legends... while only 2 of us still remain in hard-core collections (there were 10 originally) our names are still very very well known and trainers around the country still use examples of our work as teaching tools. i don't mean to sound egotistical but we pioneered the way collections are done since 21/12/01... any DC worth a damn will know what this date is - if you don't then you shouldn't be in the industry... so i won't explain it here. you should just know. and if you're not in the industry and you are reading this then i request that you use your own abilities to find out what happened 21/12/01. you'll understand why new techniques were needed...
enough of that. now the explanation of why i am putting very private information on the World Wide Web... it was a promise made between the 10 of us, that we would one day write a book - a kiss and tell so to speak. this book will be marketted at clients, collection agencies and debtors - its for everyone. we wanted to write our little tips & hints, our ideas, our morals (and yeah DC's have morals!), a few funny ancedotes, a few sad tales and more than anything - we wanted to educate the average Joe Bloggs... because we believe that everyone has a right to know if they are being screwed over. we've all done things that we're not proud of and we've all used tactics that were not the best - however we've never intentionally deceived anyone, hurt anyone or stepped outside of the broad net of laws, legislation and guidelines that encompass our industry intentionally. the reason i stress the word intentionally is due to one fact - we are all human (contrary to popular belief) and humans make mistakes... it happens.
now - this blog is not the final product. also - this blog is written by myself only. none of the other nine have made any contribution here. their stories are written as urban legends only - a friend-of-a-friend-of-mine basis... i was simply a witness to them and will regale as such. i will also not mention any real names - only initials
firstly - i will introduce myself. my nickname among collections is lionette. my nickname among friends is cuddleslut. my real name will forever remain unknown to you. where i live and work is not important. i will not refer to any agency by name - only by code...
if anyone feels they have something they wish to contribute, please do so via the comments section. i welcome any feedback or accounts of your experience as a client, DC or debtors even.
So no - on with it ->
Firstly - i started in the industry when i was 15. i started working for a barrister's as a filing clerk. this basically meant going to all the courts everyday to file summons' for service or certification, lodging claims, attending settlements, collecting settlement cheques, applying for title searches on land, businesses or companies - this was before the internet became what it is today. the barristers main client, whom they shared a building with, was LAM - at the time the 3rd largest debt collection agency (DCA) in australia and by far the largest in the state. i was transferred across to the DCA once i knew everything there was to know about the admin side of the barristers office. i was then educated on every facet of debt collection - mailing procedures, all accounts payable & receivables, payroll, filing, further search requests, secretarial, reception, switchboard, handling payments via mail and over the front counter (yeah - DCA's had front counter's back then), dealing with basic debtor and client enquiries over the counter, etc. from there i was transferred to another barristers office - the DCA's other barrister. i was then trained as a paralegal. however - i was starting to realise that i would need further education if i wanted to get into the roles that i wanted = lawyer, director, management... so i resigned and went back to high school. now the only reason that i was able to do this (and i didn't go to a mature-age college - i went to a government high school to sit TEE) was because when i had dropped out of school i had dropped out of an art scholarship and my lower school cert. had average grades of 96-98% across all subjects, especially english and maths.
so i then spent 6 mths doing year 11 TEE... i was bored out of my mind - regardless of the fact that i was doing 6 TEE subjects (the recommended is 4) so again dropped out - i figured i could just keep working full time til i was 18 then sit the STAT (special tertiary adult test) for entrance into uni. i would be entering uni the same year as if i'd stayed in school so what did it matter... i knew i would breeze the test easily and figured i may as well be earning instead of learning.
i was asked to return to LAM but decided instead to accept a job at the international airport. it was a varied role, meaning one day i could be standing around the arrivals hall with AFP (australian federal police) customs, AQIS (australian quarantine investigations services) and APS (australian protective services - commonwealth police) staff and watching the passengers and making comment on who was tourist and who was local, (and who just should NEVER wear shorts!). the next day i'd be seen sprinting from one end of the airport to the other carrying a single document that someone needed. then i'd be helping move boxes of paperwork from storage to the stands, or stands to the storage... it was always different and it was always easy meaningless work. i was being paid $15.hr for basically doing nothing all day. still - i made some good mates and a few very good friends (who i still socialize with now... 5 yrs on). from the airport i went back to admin, this time instead in a lighting company. i bounced around a couple of places as a temp, learning every facet of the lighting industry - until i did the OPTIC course and became a Junior Lighting Consultant - this is something a lot of my friends don't even know! i still hold that particular qualification and still know how to design a house's lighting scheme - even the nitty gritty details like what lights require what wattage and what the codes are on each particular type of bulb and casing. by now i was 17 and wanted to go back to debt collection... i'd always known that i wanted to go back eventually but i also knew that i would need experience in a few different industries to be an attractive candidate for a fully trained position in hard-core collections. by now LAM had been taken over by RML. many of the DCs i knew at LAM had all gone on to CLH instead of staying with RML due to differences in opinions regarding various ethics and morals.
i feel that i should mention one particular thing at this point - my mum had worked in debt collection since i was 10. now i'm proud to say i've made it on my own and while it is obvious from our uncommon surname that we are related she has not helped me in any way. if anything being a 2nd generation collector makes it twice as hard to succeed in the industry because you have to work twice as hard to prove yourself over and over again.
mum was working for CLH around the time that i turned 18 (which is the legal age to become a DC here in australia). on Australia Day 2002 she was working the public holiday and because i'd borrowed her car for the day i had to go in to pick her up. while i was waiting at the base of her building a man was also waiting. i'd never seen him before so was curious as to why he was there (the american consulate was in the same building and everyone was still tense from 9/11. the AFP & APS staff that i had previously worked with at the airport were now stationed at the building regularly so i knew everything was on high security. the guy was staring at me while we sat in the courtyard so i asked him what he was doing there, and that i'd never seen him before. he said he worked for one of the companies in the building. i asked which one, pointing out that i knew most of the staff in the building at least by sight... he said he worked for CLH! i called him a liar and basically said that i was going to grab one of the AFP to check him out. he then tried to talk me out of it and kept talking down to me, as you would a child. now in hindsight what i did and said next was incredible cocky and completely true to form for me at the time. i told him to shut the fuck up and that he needed to leave the premises if he couldn't prove he was who he said he was. he then asked what it was to do with me and why i cared. i spelled out that i was good friends with a lot of the people in the building and that he needed to pull his head in and stop being such a cocky asshole. i think i also called him a few other names, though i can't quite remember what they were. he then sort of smiled at me and asked what i did for a job. i told him that i worked in sales and asked what it had to do with anything. he then asked if i wanted to come work for him as he liked the fact that i "had balls made of steel". i just sort of went - yeah uh huh right... and you claim you work for who?" he then handed me his business card. PD, national manager of LF, a wholly-owned subsidary of CLH...
oops. turns out he did work for CLH... lol. it also stated on the business card that he was based in head office - brisbane. i asked if the job offer was for here or qld... he said wherever i wanted, but he'd prefer it if i was in qld as the training was more comprehensive and he thought i'd make a good MA (mercantile agent) with the right direction. i told him i'd call him if i felt like going down that path.
thing is - i'd been planning to move to qld anyways... this was like a sign from above or something. i'd already handed in notice at my previous job with the intention of doing temping again to get the money together to go backpacking in qld.
2 days after he returned to qld i called him and told him i wanted to go over there. he asked when i could start. i said, jokingly, tomorrow or whenever i could organise a flight. he then said he'd call me back and within an hour he was on the phone again, telling me that i started a week from monday (it was friday) and that i would be flying out wednesday... so i packed what i needed to take and organised to stay with my family on the gold coast until i found a place of my own...
i then spent a week in an induction course before my real training started... this is where i met 6 of the other contractors - they had been poached from other agencies so only had to do the weeks induction before starting in the job itself, while i had a year of training ahead of me. i'll willingly admit i put quite a few noses out within 2 hours of starting the induction by telling the trainer that he was wrong about a piece of legislation. my claim was dismissed out of hand because i was "a child" who had never worked as a DC before so what would i know... turns out i knew more than they thought. the trainer had gone straight to the company library that night to find that particular textbook to prove that he was right... turns out he wasn't - i was. so the next day i received an apology from him. GW (the trainer) was an absolute sweetheart about it too.
after that week the training began....