Ameridebt Rebuttal Letter
Written by: Kristy Welsh
Ameridebt is no longer in business. You can refer to our debt section of our website for more information.
Ameridebt Rebuttal Letter
June 25, 1999
Here's the letter Ameridebt's lawyer sent me. Despite what they said, I published it literally 20 minutes after I got it. The entire letter is unedited. Enjoy!
Dear Ms. Welsh:
Our client Ameridebt informs me that you have not posted its reply to the charges made on your website regarding its operations and that you have in fact posted additional letters of complaint.
In the conversation that I had with you, you offered to post a reply from the company, and I am surprised that you have not abided by that pledge. In the event you did not actually receive the reply, I am pleased to forward a copy. If you have any questions about the following, you should feel free to be in touch with Ms. Wilson, Ms. Shuster, or with me.
Very truly yours,
Julian H. Spirer
M E M O R A N D U M
To: www.creditinfocenter.com (Kristy Welsh)
From: Ms. Pamela Shuster, President, Ameridebt, Inc.
Date: May 13, 1999
Re: Unfairly Critical Report
We have learned that www.creditinfocenter.com and its reporter, Ms. Kristy Welsh, have posted a critical report regarding our company. We find it shocking that a website, apparently created to assist consumers with credit related issues, would write a negative report about AmeriDebt, a non-profit organization, created solely to assist consumers in need of help with their personal finances.
We disagree strongly with all of the harsh comments and innuendos in the report for the reasons set forth below:
The first concern pertains to the so-called complaint that Ms. Welsh received from a consumer who had enrolled in our debt management program. The client contacted creditinfocenter.com inquiring as to whether or not they had heard of Ameridebt. He had recently enrolled in our debt management program and had not yet detected any improvement in his credit situation. This complaint could only be characterized as the routine apprehension that clients will have during the first 60-90 days before a payment arrangement can be finalized with creditors. We address this apprehension with all our clients and alert them not to expect favorable results for the first two to three months.
Our second concern relates to the manner in which Ms. Welsh addressed this complaint to us. Ms. Welsh called us at approximately 8:00pm EST insisting on speaking with a manager. Our offices were closed. Luckily she was able to reach one of our representatives who was staying late. Ms. Welsh told the representative, " I received a complaint from one of your clients and I am going to post a "scam notice" about your company on our website. Do you have any comments?" The representative responded that she was not in a position to handle such an issue and that all the mangers had gone for the day. Ms. Welsh threatened, "This is your only chance to respond, and if I don't hear from somebody, I am going to post a scam notice tonight."
Where was the emergency? If Ms. Welsh had bothered first to inquire generally about Ameridebt, she would have learned that we have assisted well over 30,000 individuals or families to resolve troublesome credit problems. There was little risk of imminent catastrophe if the response from Ameridebt had to wait until we opened for business the next day. Ms. Welsh faced no deadline in posting the "complaint" on her website.
Given Ms. Welsh's threat, the representative decided to call one of our managers at home. The manager called Ms. Welsh from her home in an attempt to defend our company. She explained exactly how our programs work. Ms. Welsh appeared to be satisfied with all of her responses. Ms. Welsh stated that the manager was, "very nice and cordial." Ms. Welsh gave the impression to the manager that she was not going to post anything negative. She then thanked the manager for returning the call.
The next day, the manager spoke to the credit counselor who had originally enrolled the allegedly dissatisfied client. The credit counselor was surprised that the client was unhappy, and he decided to call the client himself to find out what the problem was. According to Ms. Welsh's report, our counselor was not very friendly to the client during this call and gave the client a hard time about filing a complaint with creditinfocenter.com.
When the report was posted, we asked our counselor what had happened. The counselor denied that he have been intentionally unfriendly to the client, although he acknowledges that he was upset that the client questioned our legitimacy and that his tone of voice might have given the client a reason to feel that he was being unfriendly.
We decided to call the client again to get a more complete story. We explained what had happened. The client replied that he had never intended to file a complaint against us. He said that he stumbled upon Ms. Welsh's website, was apprehensive about how things were going with his creditors, and decided to inquire as to whether they knew anything about us. He said that he was not dissatisfied, nor did he mean to create any problems. He stated that he was upset when the counselor called him back and he did write back to Ms. Welsh regarding the incident. However, he stated that, even at that point, he did not mean to create any problems and said that he was sorry if his comments crated difficulties for us.
He further stated that, if we needed him to, he would be more than happy to provide us with a letter stating his satisfaction and clarifying any confusion.
In summary, Ms. Welsh simply received a rather routine inquiry from one of our clients. She then took it upon herself to assume that we were doing the public an injustice, threatened at 8:00pm to post a "scam notice" immediately, and, then, even after we called her and explained our procedures, decided to write a critical report. While we understand that she has the right to post her opinions on her website, we are pained that she would target Ameridebt, a non-profit organization that assists thousands of people every day.
I would like to address further some of the particular accusations that Ms. Welsh made in her report.
Ms. Welsh mentioned that she received a call from our PR person stating that we wanted to advertise on her site. Ms. Welsh expressed a concern that our inquiry may have been intended as a bribe.
The first time that we ever heard of the website creditinfocenter.com was when we first received the phone call from Ms. Welsh. After our manager spoke with her, we thought that the confusion was clarified and that she was satisfied with our company. After looking at their website and realizing that there were other credit counseling organizations advertising there, we felt that it might be a good place to advertise. We simply contacted the site and inquired about the advertising rates that they charge. At no point did we do anything other than inquire about rates and availability. We have absolutely no idea whatsoever how Ms. Welsh could possibly view our inquiry as a bribe.
Ms. Welsh stated that it "bothers her that we are collecting extra cash from the desperate debt strapped masses to cover operating costs".
Once again, Ms. Welsh did not get all of the facts. We do not "collect extra cash" from our clients. We do request that they make a voluntary monthly contribution to help cover our operating costs. Although we are a non-profit organization, we obviously have expenses and do need to generate revenue to pay those expenses. Most of our revenue comes from contributions that the creditors make. We do, however, rely on the voluntary contributions from our clients as well. Please keep in mind that the funds collected from our clients are voluntary contributions and that many of our clients do not pay us anything for our assistance. In fact, the client who filed the inquiry with creditinfocenter.com was only giving us a contribution of $10.00 per month, and we had to cover the expenses involved with managing five of his accounts. Also keep in mind that the contributions that the clients make are extremely small in comparison to the money that they save by having their interest rates reduced on our program.
Ms. Welsh expressed a concern that Ameridebt's counselors are former collection agents since, in her experience, collection agents are trained to be as nasty and threatening as possible.
We have over seventy-five counselors on our staff. To my knowledge, only three have previously worked for collection agencies. The three counselors who had previous collection experience are just as friendly and courteous as any of our other counselors. In our opinion, it is actually a benefit for counselors to have previous collection experience because they are better able to advise the clients as to how to handle any collection agents who may be calling.
Ms. Welsh asked rhetorically, "Does getting a 12 percent loan to pay off an 18 percent loan make sense?"
In our opinion, it makes obvious sense if clients with $10,000 in debt can lower their interest rates by 6 percent by taking a loan. They end up saving $50.00 per month, $600.00 per year, or $2,400 over a four year period. Any financial analyst would say this makes a tremendous amount of sense.
For some reason, Ms. Welsh expresses the opinion that going through our program or any other credit counseling program will ruin your credit.
Apparently, creditinfocenter.com posted a previous report on this topic at some time in the past. At that time, another credit counseling organization objected and creditinfocenter.com posted the objections. We agree that credit counseling in no way destroys a client's credit. Please read the report of CCCS, a fellow agency, posted at this website.
In closing, we appreciate the opportunity to defend ourselves. Ms. Welsh may be trying to protect the public, but she does the public a disservice, by discrediting companies like Ameridebt whose reason for being in business is to help people.