Our client Eric immigrated to the United States from China in 2001 with high hopes of furthering his business education in this country. Eric’s resume reads like a classic success story. He got his MBA from Cal State on scholarship, then obtained his Master’s degree in Accounting from USC, following which he worked for the prestigious firm of Ernst & Young for seven years. At that point, Eric began working very hard in starting his own small business.  It was then that he realized the crucial role credit plays in a person’s life, affecting everything you do from your job, house, cars, etc. Keeping this in mind, Eric scrupulously paid all his bills on time and avoided any financial obligations he could not afford.

Plaintiff and his wife planned on refinancing their home before an upward interest rate from the bank took effect. With strong confidence in his perfect credit history and healthy credit scores, Eric foresaw no problems in refinancing in late 2016. He submitted the necessary paperwork to his mortgage broker to get the process going, but then was shocked to learn in late December that two of his credit scores had plummeted by a hundred points and there was a charge-off showing on his credit report. This, by itself, caused Eric to be denied the home refinancing.  The mortgage broker sent him documentation confirming the awful news.

His first thought was that it had to be a mistake such as a typo. But in further digging he learned the true source of his decimated credit: the erroneous reporting by a major U.S. telecommunications company to two of the Big Three credit bureaus.

At this point Eric began his very strange journey, descending like Alice down a very long tunnel that started out as a rabbit hole. But unlike Alice, a bored young girl hoping for adventure, Eric was a logical, highly trained businessman focused on attaining the American Dream.  Eric was not at all prepared for what he encountered: a host of company representatives speaking nonsense and contradicting one another at every turn, with some instructing him to simply disregard what the bills stated because his account was in the process of being “readjusted.” The readjustments were slow in coming and meanwhile each month the company continued reporting him as delinquent on his credit reports.

With the company’s okay, he began recording the conferences he was having with the reps while being bounced around from one to another like a human ping-pong ball, each time having to start over with why he was calling, the myriad problems with the billings, the false promises and instructions he had received to date. This vexatious treadmill went nowhere. It felt like a nightmare of contradictions and illogicality instead of cold reality staring him in the face. He could not be sure if the next person he was transferred to would be the March Hare or the Mad Hatter.  As Eric’s nerves frayed, his patience became shorter and shorter. It negatively affected his home life. In the end, it came down to the company’s billing department pronouncing that our client owed the debt despite what anyone else said. Business departments were, after all, in the business of billing.

At last Eric signed up for our legal services and my firm filed a lawsuit for him, against the telecom company and the credit bureaus. We had heard similar versions of this sad story before, of consumers having to endure the agony and humiliation of contacting scores of customer representatives and  being put on hold for what seemed forever,  in a vain quest to get someone to actually listen to them and help in correcting the erroneous information on their billing statements.  We had one case where our client somehow persisted in talking to 80 different customer reps, all giving her a different version of reality. The record so far is 97! In that case our client said she would sometimes simply break down and weep while her children whispered, “Why is mommy crying?”   

Our own detailed analysis of Eric’s billing statements spotted the numerous errors and calculated that he had been overbilled by almost 350%, that he was due a sizeable refund, not a charge-off reporting on his credit reports. In the end, Eric’s case settled very beneficially (six figures), as did the others. Oftentimes it requires, most of all, persistence in staring the crazies down and boldly speaking truth to madness.

Copyright © 2019 by Robert F. Brennan.  All rights reserved.

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