GC Services Complaint - Amex needs to FIRE GC Services for harassing customers and breaking the law
Sent to American Express in response to their "Assistance you might need, GC Services has your account now" letter.
Attn: Someone in leadership please.
P. O. Box 297808,
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33329-7808
Re: Your “Assistance you might need.” Letter received November 24, 2009
To anyone who will listen, (This really is worth reading and can/will save Amex money and good will)
I received your letter offering help and assistance, and frankly that was refreshing in comparison to most companies approach to collecting money. And thank you.
But… here’s my challenge, if you will please listen and forward this to anyone who can help and use this information.
After having some of the worst financial and job challenges in my life all coinciding with the biggest national financial disaster that I have every lived through, and compounded with the birth of my daughter (a blessing, but the timing wasn’t the best financially), I was forced (this was not a conscious choice) to default on some bills and prioritize for simple survival reasons. It literally came down to struggling to keep our 3 basic needs of Food, Shelter, and Transportation, met, and then add diapers, baby clothes, etc. etc. etc.
Having been raised to be responsible and pay my bills and served our Country in the US Air Force during the Gulf War and lived through some very tough times, this has been more unbearable. I went through one of the darkest emotional points in my life when I should have been relishing in the happiness of the birth of our baby girl. I cannot describe the challenges we had without getting emotional. The nights lying awake wondering how we would get through this and how I would provide for my family. The thoughts of worthlessness, and failure were overwhelming. Sitting on the floor with our infant with collectors calling and screaming, yelling, and berating me as though I did this on purpose.
Over the past 3 years, we have lost our home (and we were fully documented "A" borrowers, not subprime borrowers), lost jobs and income to the tune of nearly 50% of what we used to bring in in income pre 2005, and expect it to take years to unravel the accumulated debt that we accrued prior to the financial meltdown. Our equity vanished, our stocks and retirements evaporated, and savings was completely exhausted.
I realize that none of this matters when it comes to the debts and business at hand for your company. And frankly I understand your position to have to collect the debts for the survival of your company and shareholders as well.
But, at what cost do we lose our humanity for money, and at what point do we all realize that we are in this together and that if we all remain reasonable and understanding that we can work through this and solve all of our problems amicably?
I can only speak for myself of course, but I did not wake up one day and decide to “not pay” Amex. What has been called the worst financial disaster since the great depression, was bound to affect everyone in one way or another and some worse than others. We have all lost lots of money, and continue to lose more. But with all of that said, I have always made it clear, that I WILL pay my debts with one certain and unavoidable necessary condition, that the company I owe is reasonable and fair in how and when I pay it. Basically time is the issue. Beating me when I’m still down does nothing but push me and others into states of paralyzation, that doesn’t accomplish anything for anyone. The fact is, that I and most in my situation, simply don’t have the money right now, but will eventually as we all recover, and in the mean time, all of the hostile threats from the “hired guns/Collection companies like GC Services, will not change that reality, but rather force us into fully avoiding them and back into a mental survival state, rather than simply working out a nominal monthly payment and 6 month review of my income, job, and cash position. Isn’t something better than nothing or forcing Bankruptcy on me/us?
So, with all of that said, I want to address GC SERVICES, the collection company (one of them) that you use.
GC Services has got to be one of the most brutal, heartless, nasty, law breaking, firms I’ve ever dealt with, to the extent that the last account that I had that you sent to them (before this one) resulted in my having to file a lawsuit, although the lawsuit was ultimately settled to my satisfaction, it was the extent I needed to go to to protect my rights as a consumer and stop the brutality, public humiliation, harassment, and overall offensive behavior, that did not lead to anything productive or beneficial to Amex or myself. I didn’t pay any more money than I would have at the time, and the account had to be transferred to another collection firm whom handled the account very professionally and respectfully, and to date, we have been on a solid payment plan and I have paid down a massive portion of the debt over time and continue to do so without ever missing a payment. What do they know that GC Services does not know? Why doesn’t GC services understand this approach and choose to break the law and berate, yell, accuse, and harass people? And finally, why does such a respected company such as AMEX choose to align with such a firm? The only answer can be that their tactics work and the casualties don’t matter.
Let me list the consequences of their behavior:
1. Increased rate of Bankruptcies to stop their calls.
2. Increased rate of disappearing debtors trying to avoid paying the debt.
3. Anger and retaliation by debtor by not paying bill.
4. Lawsuits that cost everyone time, energy and money to hold GC Services accountable to their illegal and unethical tactics.
5. The saddest one. Suicides that never get attributed directly to them, but their contribution to crushing someone who has lost everything already, is impossible to ignore. I was at a funeral 6 months ago for a father of 3 and husband who took his own life because he could not deal with the financial disaster in his life. Apparently the collectors were calling daily and many could care less and just wanted their money at all costs. In the end, he lost his mind. Read the stats, in many communities that have been hit the hardest, the suicide rate is approaching or past 10% higher than pre-financial meltdown periods. No doubt those people were getting beaten up by collectors who wouldn’t work out anything reasonable. These are human beings who thought it was easier to die than push through this! Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters for Gods sake!!! They made a temporary problem permanent and you treat the debt as though it is a "right now" problem that has to be solved...or else!
Here are some of the tactics used by GC Services that I personally experienced and witnessed:
1. Calling 3-4+ times in one day. Even after speaking with me.
2. Leaving angry and hostile messages on voicemail.
3. Calling coworkers and family members under the “cover” that they are just “trying to locate”, even though they have the right phone numbers, addresses and even speak to the debtor. They just aren’t getting the money they want or as much as they want, so they use this tactic to pressure it out of them.
4. Calling neighbors and friends.
5. Threatening to sue and garnish wages.
6. Threatening to embarrasss at workplace.
7. Read off of current credit report all of the other debts to intimidate. They actually say “wow, look, you are even losing your home to foreclosure, ha ha”…
Now, I’m sure their tactics work quite often, they worked on me for the first few weeks, until I discovered that much of what they were doing was flat out illegal and I sought out a consumer protection attorney.
But, here I am again. My other account was just transferred to GC Services now, and low and behold, the hostility and anger has begun once again. I immediately contacted my attorney and we are preparing for round two with them.
Three things I would be humbly appreciative for you to please consider. 1. Transfer my account to a new collection company or back to AMEX and I would be happy to discuss some reasonable temporary arrangements while I work to recover financially. And 2. Seriously consider your use of GC Services in future collection needs. 3. Consider keeping these accounts with AMEX longer and working on modified payment arrangements as Bank of American, Citi, and others have.
A final note, this account was never behind one single day, and was closed by AMEX because one of my other accounts fell behind too far and AMEX (you) sent it immediately to an outside collector who was ultimately unreasonable with my payment plan needs. This all could have been prevented.
Thank you for reading
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