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I recently got a series of calls from a vaguely-real collection agency. They told me I owed the City of Ottawa $71 for something I never paid in the year 2000. I called the city, they had no idea what this agency was talking about. Either way, the statute of limitations on debt collection was six years back in 2000, and it’s two years now. So there’s no way. Of course the company kept calling me anyway, making up some crap about the statute of limitations no longer applying. I kept ignoring the call when it came, sometimes three times a day. My wife was getting the same phone calls, about a nonexistent debt from 2005. Only hers was for $4,000!
Last week I tried a new tactic. I answered the phone. I explained to the lady on the phone that the city of Ottawa had no idea what this debt was, and since the collection agency couldn’t explain it either, I was operating under the assumption that it was bogus. I went on to explain, calmly and (very) slowly that since the statute of limitations WAS up, and they could do nothing to me or my credit rating, that I had no intention of ever paying. She said they would keep calling.
So here’s what I did – it seems to have worked. I explained my plan, very slowly. I said “okay, you keep calling. And I’ll keep answering. And I’ll continue to explain things to you the way I have today. After all, I’m around in the daytime, and it’s quite easy for me to put you on speakerphone and continue with my cooking or my workout. I have all the time in the world. Now, let’s say that I keep you on the phone for five minutes a day. And let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you make twelve dollars an hour. I will keep answering until I have used up eighty dollars of your company’s time, chasing me for the $70 you pretend I owe. This will take you exactly eighty phone calls. And at five calls a week, you will be at $80 in man-hours within sixteen weeks. At the end of those sixteen weeks, we will begin again. And I still won’t pay.”
It has now been nine days. And they have not called back, even once.