Hope has spent a lot of time on the phone. For 23 years, she was a customer service rep for AT&T, hearing complaints and resolving problems. For the past 11 years, she’s been doing more important work at Consolidated Credit – taking calls from customers who are having problems with credit card debt.
“Every day, I touch somebody, I have more of an impact here,” she says. “My previous job was like customer service – but it was calls about their bills. It wasn’t like they were having a hardship. The people who call here are in trouble and they need a way to get out of it.”
What’s the most memorable call you’ve received?
“There was a lady going through cancer treatment, and she didn’t know what to do,” Hope recalls. “She was always sick and had a hard time paying her bills. It was so sad that I also started crying. Sometimes you can’t help but feel for them.”
How do you separate your work life from your personal life?
Hope says she uses her hobbies to block everything out.
“I do things with my grandkids. I go zip lining and tubing down the river, feed my fish and two turtles in my backyard pond. I also plant vegetables.”
What’s the most bizarre reason people give for falling into debt?
“I’ll never forget this woman who called and said, ‘I’ll be totally honest with you. I’m not going to be able to pay you this month because I went to Las Vegas and I spent all my money.’ My response to her was, ‘Well, at least you’re honest.’ I then went on to telling her the consequences of missing payments.”
Hope recounts another memorable call…
“There was a lady who walked into our office requesting to speak to someone. She had a shopping addiction so bad that she was renting a little warehouse to store all the stuff that she was buying. ‘Sometimes I don’t even wear them. There are shoes in there that I buy and just stick them in there.’”
But Hope says the media plays a role in these addictions.
“Everybody wants to look pretty and look like they have nice stuff, just like the people on TV. It’s sad because a lot of people live like that, and they can’t afford it.”
What’s the nicest thing a graduate from the program has ever said to you?
“They always say, ‘Thank you, you guys are guardian angels, I did it! I’m glad I did it!’”
Hope says, “It really makes me feel good. It means that we really helped somebody.”
Has anyone cried upon completion of the program?
“I’ve had people who upon completion would start yelling ‘YAY and woohoo’ – but I’ve never had anybody cry.’”
What do your friends and family think about your job?
“My husband thinks that my job is awesome because we’re helping people who don’t know what to do on their own,” she says. “And it’s sad because some of them don’t even know how to look at their statement.”
Hope says it isn’t any wonder that they’re in the trouble.
“I always go over the statement with them,” she says. “That way, they’ll know what to look for. There’s so much fraud going on because people don’t pay attention to their statement. If you don’t see it, then you can’t correct it.”
What were your thoughts about debt consolidation and consolidation companies prior to working here?
“I never knew they existed,” she says. “I’ve been good with money all my life. I’ve always had two credit cards and always thought that credit cards were good for emergencies. Everything else I pay with cash or debit. I just never liked to give my money away.”
Do you have any parting advice for consumers out there?
“Do not take any credit cards when you go to the store,” Hope advises. “They’re going to try to get you but say no, no, no. The interest rates are 20 percent or higher. They make it seem like they’re giving you a 10-percent discount, however they’re making that up in the interest. You’re not getting any discounts unless you pay it right away.”
Don’t throw your money away!
If a shopping addiction or credit card debt has you scrambling without a clue of how to take control, it’s probably time to enlist the help of a financial adviser. Our credit counselors are certified and are standing by to help you regain control of your life and your finances if you let them. Call us at 1-888-294-3130or get started online by requesting a free Debt & Budget Analysis.