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Advice on Disputed Debt


bottomsup
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A few years ago, T-Mobile billed me for an unreturned handset, for 300 and some odd dollars. I disagreed. A month and half before, I called them letting them know my handset wasn't working. It was still under their warranty, so they agreed to exchange it free of charge, however they required I return the faulty handset within 7 or so days of receiving the new one. I got the new phone, but no packaging materials. I called them letting them know that I couldn't return the old handset until I received shipping materials. They apologized, said they would send me the shipping materials, and extended the time it was due another two weeks.

 

After a week or so, I left for a two month assignment in another state for my job. I hadn't received the shipping materials yet, and called T-Mobile informing them I hadn't received it, but was going out of town, so I wasn't sure that I would be able to get out the handset by their deadline. The agent I spoke with said she would make a note of it. My assignment only permitted me to come home on the weekends, if we weren't busy. I did make it home one weekend, found the packing materials and took it with me so that I could mail it off when I had time during the week. I mailed it off about a week after I got the packing materials. But a day or so later, I received a letter at my new address from T-Mobile (I had my mail temporarily forwarded), saying they were charging me for the handset.

 

I called immediately speaking with a rude agent, who seemed to take it personally that the handset wasn't returned within the original 7 day time frame. I explained the situation to her, but she was not moved. According to her, T-Mobile gave me sufficient time to return the handset, even accounting for their gaff of not mailing the shipping materials, and she didn't see an additional extension of time. I said "Well, you can't charge me for the handset, I sent it to you." She insisted it does not matter and they were charging me anyways. I said I wasn't paying for a broken handset, that I returned to them. Then, she told me if I didn't pay, they would shut off service for my phone. Pissed, I say "OK" then after getting off the phone immediately call Verizon and have my line transferred from T-Mobile.

 

Eventually T-Mobile sent me a bill for the handset and the cancellation fee, plus some other extraordinary fees making my bill to them nearly $1,000. Obviously I don't agree to any of this ish, and I felt I was forced to switch services given their stance on the charge for the handset.  Within a month or two , they transferred my bill to Midland, who have called me incessantly. I told one agent "I didn't agree with T-Mobile that I owed the money, why on earth do you think I'm going to pay YOU?"

 

Midland reported in 2012 sometime, so it is about two years old. How should I go about getting it removed?

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I called immediately speaking with a rude agent, who seemed to take it personally that the handset wasn't returned within the original 7 day time frame. I explained the situation to her, but she was not moved. According to her, T-Mobile gave me sufficient time to return the handset, even accounting for their gaff of not mailing the shipping materials, and she didn't see an additional extension of time. 

 

Here is the problem with your dispute with the carrier:  it is based on your personal issue with them not contract law.  This is a mistake many many consumers mistake.  What matters is the details in the four corners of the contract you signed with T-Mobile when you got the phone.  If the time frame to return the headset is 7 days once you get the shipping materials then that is it.  Your personal issues do not negate the terms you agreed to in the contract.  If the contract provides for you to be charged for the handset they can do it.

 

Eventually T-Mobile sent me a bill for the handset and the cancellation fee, plus some other extraordinary fees making my bill to them nearly $1,000. Obviously I don't agree to any of this ish, and I felt I was forced to switch services given their stance on the charge for the handset.  

 

You were not legally forced to switch carriers you CHOSE to and if the contract provides for a cancellation and any other fee they can assess it regardless of your personal reason for switching.

 

Midland reported in 2012 sometime, so it is about two years old. How should I go about getting it removed?

 

Midland cannot report any longer than 7 years after the date you defaulted on the account to T-Mobile.  You have 2 options to have it removed because I see no legal credit based reason based on what you posted.  The first is Midland likely paid pennies on the dollar.  I would offer them $300 for a pay for delete.  Get everything in writing before you part with one cent to them and make the offer in writing.  I generally recommend sending two signed copies of the proposed settlement stating if they agree to sign and return a copy and payment will be made within 14 days.  The other option is to simply wait for it to drop off.  

 

If you try to dispute MIdland will simply verify it and the issue is not an ID theft one but more of a personal beef with the carrier and whether they SHOULD have charged you at all.  Unfortunately now that the debt has been sold fighting any of that is no longer possible.

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Hmmm. So, you are saying if one party makes it impossible to fulfill my contract within their time frame, I have no recourse?

 

They did NOT make it impossible to fulfill the contract.  They extended the dead line and then prior to the time frame to get it done you went out of town and did nothing about it.  There were several options available to you to return that phone prior to leaving town including going to a corporate store and getting the packing materials.  Shipping it yourself and getting a credit. etc.  You simply did things on your own time.  

 

The next mistake was simply speaking to the drone on the phone and not getting a supervisor then following up in writing.  NONE of that has anything to do with your cancelling the account because they were charging you for the phone and then getting assessed cancellation fees under the terms of the contract.

 

Either way NONE of that matters now.  The debt has been sold and T-Mobile isn't reporting Midlland is.  Once the debt was sold you have ZERO power to address the amount owed to the original creditor.  

 

Would you direct me to the Florida case law stating this?

 

No.  If you want case law you can search yourself or you can pay a law firm to do it for you.  Odds are pretty high that few if any have bothered to litigate this.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Is midland reporting the exact amount to the dollar of the bill that T-Mobile sent you?  If midland has added a single dollar to the amount owed, they are likely violating FDCPA and FCRA law.  Most phone contracts do not include interest fees - although you should look up T-Mobile's contract just to be sure.

 

If anything is even slightly wrong on Midland's reporting, I would dispute it.  Then when they verify I would ask the CRA for Method of Verification and the name and address of the person who verified the TL.

 

If it remains after that, I would sue midland for FCRA and FDCPA violations.

 

I would also check the T-Moblie contracts to see if they contain an arbitration clause.  If midland tries to sue you in the future for this debt, I would use arbitration on them.

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