What Happens When Debt Collectors Sue?

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While living in San Diego, California I moved into a new apartment and I didn’t own anything but the clothes on my back. I didn’t want the hassle of having to save up the money to furnish my new place because I knew it would take forever, but in hindsight, I wish that I had waited.

My only option was to find someone who was willing to give a person with bad credit a second chance and as luck would have it, I found a company called Jerome’s. Jerome’s furniture was a family-owned business that had been open in several San Diego locations for many years.

Jerome’s was known for financing just about anyone. If they couldn’t find a lender to loan you the money for your furniture purchase, then they’d finance it for you themselves. It was a sweet deal. I wish that more companies operated this way.

Surprisingly, I was approved by one of their outside lenders and I was given enough credit to completely furnish my living room. As the salesman and I walked the showroom floor to see what was in my price range, I came across an all-white sofa sectional that had a tag on it claiming it to be leather.

It was the most beautiful piece of furniture I’d ever seen up to that point so the salesman and I began the paperwork. When I asked was this furniture real leather, he responded by saying that it was “Bonded Leather”.

When I asked what that was, he described it as genuine leather that was made from scraps of leather that was leftover from other furniture that was bonded together to cover a new piece of furniture at a cheaper price than your standard leather.

I’m thinking, oh that sounds great. I get a beautiful leather set for about half the normal price of non bonded leather. I figure that leather is leather so what could possibly go wrong? Everything went wrong.

First, the furniture started turning from a beautiful creamy white to yellowish color from sitting in front of my sliding balcony windows and absorbing the sunlight. Then after a few months, the tops of the sofas started to crack and peel and would stick to my clothes when I stood up.

Now, I’d only had the furniture about 9 months at this point, if even that, and I still owed over two thousand dollars on it and I refused to pay for something that wouldn’t even last the total time of my two-year contract to pay for it.

That’s when the collection calls started rolling in by the dozens. I sent formal cease and desist letters, told them that I refused to pay, and explained the reason why but they kept on calling me. I disputed and disputed but nothing worked. They refused to let me off the hook by allowing me to have the debt removed from my credit reports.

Three years later the collection still showed on my credit report until finally, I’d had enough. I had completely forgotten that I had been paying $10 a month for a prepaid legal service for close to 15 years that I never used, so I decided to call them up.

The attorney that assisted me gave me step-by-step instructions and told me exactly what forms I needed to file and what I needed to include in them in order to fight my case in court if I needed to. I went to the courthouse, filed my answer to the summons, paid my fee and 30 days later my case was dismissed and I never heard from the third party collection agency again.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Even after winning my case against them, they still would not remove the collection from my credit reports. For the first time in my life, I had to wait out the entire 7 years before the law said that they legally had to remove the collection from my credit reports.

It was the hardest fight that I had ever fought and even though I was unable to have it removed from my credit reports as fast as I would have liked to, I still won in the end because I never had to pay the remaining balance owed on the furniture plus the exuberant penalties and late fees that they assessed totaling over $5,000.

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