Conn Artists?

I wasn’t home today –  my parents were babysitting.  The conversation I had later went roughly like this:

Dad:   “A pleasant-sounding woman called from a law firm around lunchtime.  She said she was looking for Mr. Lawyer.  It was about the neighbors.”

Me:  “What?? A law firm? Neighbors? Are you sure?”

Dad:  “Yes, definitely a law firm.  Maybe one of your neighbors is going to sue you?”

Me:  “I don’t think so.  People like us.”

Dad:  “Wait, I think they wanted to know something about your neighbors.”

Me:  “Oh, collectors.  I’ll check the caller ID.  Night.”

So I did check the caller ID.  A local appliance company – not a law firm.  I googled the number.  WOWZA!  Lot of people very unhappy with the company.  Unhappy with its collection practices as well as their allegedly terrible customer service and warranty fulfillment practices.

I get calls from this number at least 3 times a day, every day.
I do not have a Conn’s account.
How do I block this caller?

Careful answering or giving any information to these people. I am a lawyer and after some research discovered that they use your ssn and phone number to pass on to credit recovery agencies and law enforcement. I currently represent 2 clients with lawsuits against businesses similar to this. BEWARE!

Received a call today from Conn’s at my work from this number. Lady told a person in our accounting dept that she was filing a report on me with the police dept for theft. I was sick at home and never received a call at home. I called the  police Dept and they told me that there was no way to file a theft report for a credit bill. I only owe $53.26. I Paid on time for 3 years. My final bill said I owed zero.
Please don’t buy from these people.

OMG! I wish we had done our research before buying from Conn’s. These people are the most unprofessional salespeople , store managers , delivery people we have ever ever dealt with. My story is long and I won’t go into it because I get so upset everytime I think about it. But “please believe me” its a nightmare in customer service. I have read all the reviews and I will be contacting the Atty. General concerning their practices. This company needs to be put out of business! Stay away from this company, even if you find a deal you think you can’t pass up, you will pay dearly in the long run. Stay away from Conn’s!!!!!!!!!

Having done work in creditor’s rights before, I was still a little skeptical.  Sure, out of 27 written reviews on one site the company received a paltry single star out of five, but it’s common knowledge that grumpy customers are much more vocal than content ones.  Maybe it’s just a biased site? 

And then I read this press release from the Texas Attorney General linked in one of the reviews:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today charged Conn’s, Inc. with failing to honor product warranties, misleading customers about the nature of its products, false advertising and other violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. According to the state’s enforcement action — and information contained in more than 2,000 customer complaints — the defendant unlawfully relied on aggressive and deceptive sales tactics to increase its extended service warranty sales for consumer appliances, electronics and other products.

“The defendants are charged with using high-pressure sales tactics to deceive customers about their extended service warranties,” Attorney General Abbott said. “Texas law contains important protections to prevent vendors from misleading customers about their goods and services. Today’s enforcement action reflects a concerted effort to ensure the defendant is held accountable for violating the law.”

2000???  Probably not a fluke, huh? Definitely not just a few really outspoken customers.  

We will be shopping for a new clothes-washer and probably dryer before long – the current set has had a few repairs each.  We get the Conn’s sales flier and some of the deals look interesting, but I’ve never stepped foot in the store.  And now I never will.  

 The action was resolved later in the year to the tune of $4.5 million which is getting off pretty cheap on a per-customer basis.  Still, it’s not chump change:

According to the state’s enforcement action – and information contained in more than 3,500 customer complaints – the defendant unlawfully relied on aggressive and deceptive sales tactics to increase its extended service warranty sales for appliances, electronics and other products. The agreement reached today requires Conn’s to reform its business practices and pay $4.5 million in restitution for its customers.

Reformed.  Well, that’s nice. 

Now they can work on their collection  practices.  It’s not legal to misrepresent yourself as an attorney to collect a debt or to obtain information about a debtor.  The following practices are prohibited in Texas:

(16)  using a communication that purports to be from an attorney or law firm if it is not;

(17)  representing that a consumer debt is being collected by an attorney if it is not;

(19)  using any other false representation or deceptive means to collect a debt or obtain information concerning a consumer.

The Texas Debt Collection Act mirrors the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.  § 807 of the federal act prohibits representing that you are an attorney or with an attorney’s office deceptively.

Are people more likely to give information to callers who represent themselves as attorneys rather than just collection agents?  From my experience, people know that when an attorney is involved the call is serious – a law license also adds some sense of legitimacy to the collections process.

Was Conn’s trying to intimidate my dad into squealing on the neighbors by saying they were from a law firm?  Maybe.

Does Conn’s have attorneys on staff?  Maybe.  Does that make them a “law firm?”  No, it doesn’t, per se.  But it makes them have a “law office.”   It might make their claim that they are a law firm less deceptive, even if a room full of collections agents are not quite what people imagine when they think law office.  Probably enough to make their calls inactionable under the debt collection acts.

He told the pleasant-sounding woman to call back tomorrow morning, so I guess I’ll ask her then.

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2 Comments

  1. April 22, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Uh, that was long – sorry about that. I’ll post some lolpoliticians tomorrow to make up for that, ok?

  2. Sarah said,

    April 22, 2010 at 7:30 am

    No actually, that was interesting and informative. Thanks!


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