The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

This entry has two oblique references that only make sense if you know the full story, but I can't tell the full story since it's not mine to fully tell so it may make it seem worse than it really is, but I'm still shaken (but not stirred) by all of it and am still trying to process the whole thing, so that's why the oblique references in this entry (with a title that is entirely too long but that's besides the point)

As a kid, I remember my Granddad (Dad's dad) watching the news, and only the news, on television. And the occasional episode of “60 Minutes”. As a result, I was exposed to the media side of “ambush interviews”—you know, Mike Wallace and some camera man lying in wait for some businessman, politician, doctor, lawyer or controversial public figure about which some bit of scanal or law suit is pending and as they're walking past to or from their car kidney punching with a camera and asking a slew of embarassing and pointed questions.

Such “ambush interviews” always made the ambushee look really bad—why couldn't they answer what always seemed to be a few simple questions and their response was always “No comment” or “I have nothing to say” or a kidney punch back at Mike with a brief case and a comment that was inevitably bleeped out.

What was never said by Mike Wallace or any other reporter involved in an “ambush interview” is that the ambushee might not be legally allowed to answer such questions, or they might not even know how to answer the question and figure the best course of action is not to say anything for fear of looking worse than they already are (or will, when the interview is edited for television).

Such interviews tend to be a “damned if you do, damned if you don't” type of affair.

My friend Hoade is an expert on collection agencies, having done extensive research in the field for his first (and still unpublished) novel. By the time a company approaches a collection agency (or the collection agency approaches a company) the company has pretty much written off the debt (the loss is considered an “operating expense” and can be used to offset any taxes the company pays) and anything the collection agency collects (minus their “fee”) is pretty much gravy (since the offset taxes more than make up for the atual income of any debt so collected).

As a result, there isn't much legally a collection agency can do to actually collect on the debt. Sure, they can trash your credit rating, but it's a fair assumption that if you have collection agents on your tail, your credit rating is pretty much gone anyway. They can't garnish wages, or place liens on property (only the court system can do that, and a company is only going to go through the court system if it's a metric buttload of money involved and skip the collection agency entirely). About the only recourse a collection agency has is intimidation. And surprise. The only two recourses are intimidation and surprise and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope. The three recourses are intimidation, surprise …

Oh. Um. Sorry about that.

So yes, short of the comfy chair and a ruined credit rating, they can't do anything to you.

And as I'm constantly reminded of, don't sweat the small stuff, and it's all small stuff.

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