"Sir, admitting to planning arson on a recorded line is not a wise move."

Major telecom, collections department.

Today’s bright and shiny diamond is a business customer. It’s an apartment complex, and the account in question is for a dedicated set of approx 4 or 5 dedicated alarm lines. This customer has a pretty poor payment record, but because of how many other accounts they have with the company they’ve been able to get away with not paying regularly by threatening to disconnect all their lines with us. The bill for the alarm lines racked up to over $2000 though so it’s beyond any acceptable limit even for our best customers. Multiple notices and calls were done, but they still didn’t pay so we denied the service for nonpayment. They ended up calling back shortly and convinced a manager here to turn on the account if we did a post dated check payment. The manager agreed, we turned them on, but when it came time for the payment to process, the payment was rejected by their bank, so per our policy we re-denied until payment was secured.

Alarm services very routinely monitor these types lines as part of their service so when the lines go down the alarm company contacts the customer pretty quickly. For whatever reason this particular time the alarm company was not able to reach anyone for the property, so they were obligated to call the fire department in case there was a real fire that disabled the alarms.

It was shortly after the fire department arrived there that we received an angry call from our delinquent customer.

Cus: “You f***ing idiots turned off the alarm lines and now the fire department is here for a false alarm. We’re getting a ticket for your error. You need to turn the service back on NOW.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that that happened, but unfortunately the account has gone delinquent. We sent multiple notices and calls, and we even gave you an extra chance to pay after we shut it off last week, but your payment was rejected by your bank so we had to re-deny the service. We will need all of the past due charges paid on the account first before we can restore the service again. “

Cus: “F**k you, you’re breaking the law by denying this service.”

Me: “The law states we can deny service for nonpayment if proper written notice was given. We’ve done that as well as attempted calls, and we also gave you a payment arrangement which you did not keep. We were within our rights to deny your service.”

Cus: “Well if you guys don’t turn it back on the fire department says we have to have someone on fire watch on site until the fire alarms are back online.”

Me: “I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but that situation can be prevented by paying the bill to restore the services.”

Cus: “Well if a fire breaks out it will be your fault and we’ll sue you guys.”

Me: “We will not be responsible for that since your account is denied for nonpay.”

Cus: “We’ll see about that. I’m going to start a fire and document everything so that our lawyers can sue the crap outta you.”

Me: “Sir, admitting to planning arson on a recorded line is not a wise move. As stated on our automated line that you listened to before you spoke with me, all of our calls are recorded. If you persist in threatening violence or committing a felony I would be required to contact our security department, who would in turn contact your local police department, who would in turn show up at your property and at the very least have a very unpleasant conversation with you. And if they arrest you we would be obligated to release this recording to the authorities where they will hear your threat. So that being said…do you wish to revise your statement?”

Cus: “………..”

At this point all I can hear is heavy breathing plus what I can only possibly describe as maybe his fist hitting a desk multiple times.

Cus: “…do you take Discover?”

Me with a huge grin: “Why yes, yes we do…”

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