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Amex won't budge! Threatened to "escalate"??

Discussion in 'Debt Settlement' started by mamabear, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. mamabear

    mamabear LoanSafe Member

    So, we are close to 120 days past due with Amex. They will not even consider and offer of a settlement under 70% we have about 60% to give them.
    Last phone conversation, the guy said he was going to "recommend escalation" on our account.
    What does he mean?
    He said that since we have spoken with them several time about a settlement, they are going to "escalate". I asked if essentially I was being punished for trying to work something out....he said "I'm afraid so".
    what is going on???
  2. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    What's going on is that you spoke with Amex way too early in the process. For instance, it took 16 month after my last payment for a major bank to send me a settlement offer letter. And, then less than a month later, they sent another lower settlement offer. I'm curious to see what the next letter will bring. Please visit the thread "Strategy for Settling Your 2nd" to see some negotiating tips that also apply to CC settlements.
  3. HopingtoFind

    HopingtoFind LoanSafe Member

    Better offers come before charge off which happens at 180 days past due so you still have some time. And the best offers come after a year or several years of non-payment that is if you are able to hold out that long without paying and/or being sued.

    As far as escalation who knows what he meant by that, did you ask him what he meant... maybe they are going to send it to a collection agency. You can call and ask what he meant.
  4. MACAT

    MACAT LoanSafe Member

    Its unfortunate times we are in, and it is a big wake-up call for most of us when the big banks harass us, so why make it easy for them? Please don't settle for even 60%!! On my amex, I settled a 21K debt for 7K after holding-out for months, paid through a collection agency--but that was back when I was taking their calls. Do not let the cc companies and the big banks bully you. Fight back. Good luck!
  5. leftcoastadv

    leftcoastadv LoanSafe Member

    How long ago did you settle with AMEX? How long did you hold out?

    We are 90 days into it with AMEX on a 10k balance. We have been following Tomeason "scorched earth" policy.
    They did call my mom looking for me. That was kind of rude but I was half way expecting it.
    We are contemplating sending in a cease and desist letter.
  6. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    I believe you meant to say "Better offers come after charge off ..." Please know I'm not nitpicking your post, just want to clarify for other readers of this thread, especially since you are a respected and oft read contributor on these boards.
  7. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    Thanks for your post. Although I don't evangelize my "scorched earth" policy for everyone, I am gladdened that you see you its value in your own situation. One caveat I might mention about C&D letters. Although appropriate to send one to demand that Amex cease calling relatives and neighbors, the FDCPA doesn't prohibit the original creditor, Amex, from making collection efforts with you. The FDCPA is applicable to debt collectors, and as defined in the act, Amex is a "creditor", not a "debt collector." Good luck and keep us posted. Thanks.
  8. leftcoastadv

    leftcoastadv LoanSafe Member

    Thank you for the heads up.... kinda changes things though. :) So basically it won't make any difference? Thanks again for the information.
  9. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    Well, it depends. Amex might just be extra cautious and abide by your C&D letter, even though they're not legally required to do so. I wouldn't worry about it.
  10. HopingtoFind

    HopingtoFind LoanSafe Member

    Well... I meant better offers come before charge off... meaning better then at 120 days, which the point OP was at. Notice that I followed with: "And the best offers come after a year or several years of non-payment that is if you are able to hold out that long without paying and/or being sued."

    But in reality we really do not know for sure. For example I settled for 20% right before charge off, could I have settled for better then that with CA a year from charge off... maybe, maybe not. Maybe I could have settled for 15% but my balance would have been higher. I wish we had statistics on something like that.

    That said I am not just for settling at any cost, if the amount of money is what you can afford and what you're comfortable with to get it over with, then waiting might not be worth it. I have couple of Helocs that have charged off, I believe, and I am willing to wait to get the best settlement possible... I am not in a hurry.
  11. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    Thanks for your answer. As I have frequently stated, those who want to settle now, and "just move on" (whatever that means) should expect to pay more in a settlement as a result. But that is their choice. For those of us who are in no hurry, and realize settlement is often a long process, can usually realize a much more palatable settlement. To each his own.
  12. leftcoastadv

    leftcoastadv LoanSafe Member

    Amex finally had a human call to leave a message. They only ask for a call back. So far Amex has not heard from us one single time. They are in the dark.
    Should I give them a call, explain our sob story and leave it at that?
    Or just keep letting them get the voice mail?

    I almost feel like they should know we are out there and want a settlement, but on the flip side I also think if they don't know much about us they may be less apt to sue.

    Any advice? Thanks
  13. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    The call you received is still from the collections department, and since it's from a human, it shows your process is moving along as expected. I would not return that call. Never share any personal info, including a "sob story." The only reason to ever return a call is if their voicemail indicates it's from the recovery department and that there may be a workout or settlement available. In such a return call to the recovery department, the call should be a very short, cryptic conversation where you say very little to nothing; you should not volunteer any info, and not answer even the simplest, most innocent sounding questions. The purpose would be only to confirm what department the caller is in, and to listen to their offer, if any. If no offer, politely end the conversation.

    Bottom line, do not return this call.
  14. leftcoastadv

    leftcoastadv LoanSafe Member

    Thanks Tomeason.
    Very, very helpful.
    A few more questions if you don't mind.

    I understand the part about not giving them any information. Can you give me some examples of the questions they would be asking?
    I know it could be extremely varied but when do you think the recovery department people will start calling?
    From reading others experiences, I'm gathering that our first offer from Amex is maybe going to be in the 70% range. Would that be a fair assumption?

    Our current situation would allow us to handle 20% of our balance due. Should we counter with 20% and stick to our number till it comes about?
    I know thats a slight deviation from the "scorched earth" way of doing things, but at a certain point I know we will want to put an end to this chapter and so a smallish settlement is ok with us to end it.
    Thanks again for the help.

    PS, I'm not familiar with the forum etiquette. Should I start my own thread as to not deviate this one?
  15. leftcoastadv

    leftcoastadv LoanSafe Member

    I just re read Strategy for Settling Your 2nd. :) Thanks
  16. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    Thanks for your post. You're forum etiquette is fine; you are on topic for this thread. I can't give you examples of questions because there are so many. I can tell you that negotiators are trained to involve the debtor in conversation and in friendly question and answer probing. The questions get more probing, and before you know it, you've disclosed info you shouldn't have. That's why you should say very little. It might help if you remember to always answer a question with a question of your own, like "why do you ask?" Or something like that.
    I cannot give you an idea on what Amex might offer because I haven't negotiated with Amex. As far as negotiating your settlement price, you first need to choose your target price (which should be one you can afford to pay in a lump sum). Always counter at well below your target. You might visit the thread Strategy for Settling Your 2nd and read the two page primer at first post, first page. The 2nd page contains negotiating tips that apply to settling CC debt. Good luck!
  17. leftcoastadv

    leftcoastadv LoanSafe Member

    Thanks again Tomeason.

    I only have one issue and it has kind of come up in the last few days. Amex is calling my mother about 2 times a day. Human leaving a message asking to be put in contact with me.
    Really kind of embarrassing actually. Bottom line is I don't want or need my family involved. Know I knew this was a risk I was a taking and I figure Amex is doing this on purpose. They want a reaction out of me. I really rather not give them a reaction as I think this will only fuel the fire.
    Here is my proposal:
    Call them. Eek! :)
    Say nothing more except... "At this current time I am unable to make a payment to Amex. We can speak again in one month."
    I suppose I would repeat myself a few times as they were asking further questions. After that I could politely end the conversation and hang up. I would not say anything about calling my mom.
    My sole purpose for the phone call would be to show Amex that I am listening to their voice mails and they do in fact have my number correct, in hopes that they would not call my family anymore.
    I figure past that, maybe answer the phone calls once a week and just repeat my same sentence. Ending it politely.

    I know its a stretch and completely against the scorched earth way of things but what do you think? I am certain I can keep my message on track and not deviate, so I'm not worried about accidentally giving them any info. It won't happen.
    Bottom line... just trying to keep family out of it.

    Side note, maybe my mother can talk to them? Ask them not to contact her? Again it's a stretch as I kinda figure they will not abide by that request. Bottom line for them... I owe them some money.
  18. TomEason

    TomEason LoanSafe Guide Staff Member

    Thanks for the update. I don't know what to tell you here. Since Amex is the creditor, not a debt collector, they aren't covered under the FDCPA. So a C&D letter to them is toothless. They are permitted to contact your relatives specifically only to locate you or your phone number. Calling them might provide some benefit, but I don't know. However, if you do call them, do not say anything like "At this current time I am unable to make a payment to Amex. We can speak again in one month." You do not want to tell them what you're able to do. And you definitely don't want to say you'll speak again in a month. I don't think you really want to talk to them until they're ready to offer a settlement. And the calls your parents are getting are from collections, not recovery. If you really want to communicate with them, you might send a letter to an executive at Amex stating you will entertain settlement offers. And, until such time they are willing to settle, you will not be answering their calls or returning their messages.
    If your mother chooses to speak with them, she should only ask then to no longer contact her. Nothing more. And nothing about you and how to contact you.
    Please bear in mind again that I've never negotiated with Amex and I've chosen to never settle with CC companies. So, I'm not an expert here.
  19. leftcoastadv

    leftcoastadv LoanSafe Member

    thanks Tomeason.
    Kind of a crappy spot we are temporarly in. I wanna just keep riding it out and will do so until mom really starts to get tired of it.

    I see your advice on sending a letter to an executive. Any idea where I might be able to get a name or address for such a person? I will look on their website to start. Do you see any side effects to sending a letter that states I want a settlement? I can deal with my mother getting calls if it means I'm a little less apt to getting sued.
    Which getting sued is not the end of the world. We are pretty much judgement proof and at this point, our CS is jacked with the foreclosure so I really don't give a shit if Amex gets a dime.

    On a side note.... I'm still kind of trying to come up with a half way safe conversation topic to have with Amex, figuring they are not going to stop contacting family.
    The best I can come up with now is.... to give them my (spare) email address and ask that we communicate via email. Again I can leave it at that and hang up after repeating myself a few times.
    Figuring email would give us a record of the conversations, which that right there is a huge turn off for Amex so I doubt they will want to communicate via email but I think maybe they will be open to it once they realize I'm back to not answering/returning calls.

    Again I know its a stretch.

    Do you know if in house Amex collections vs third party collections is going to differ when it comes to calling family? I understand the C and D letter would then apply but I'm a little hesitant going that extreme. Again just trying to avoid a legal battle.
    Could I send a modified C and D letter? Maybe just telling them to contact myself only?
    Just kind of looking down the road.

    Thanks again for all the help.
  20. HopingtoFind

    HopingtoFind LoanSafe Member

    The FDCPA is intended to protect your privacy. In most cases they cannot contact anyone other than you to try to collect the debt. This means they cannot call, for example, your family members, friends, former or present employers, etc., to say that you have not paid your debts.

    So if I were you I would write them C & D and tell them to not contact your mother in regards to your debt, as that is against FDCPA.

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