Steve Schklair marvels why he’s being muscled by cable television giant Spectrum.
“It’s been years since I’ve even been a subscriber,” he informed me.
Nevertheless, the Altadena resident got an unusual letter from Spectrum stating that, “as a one-time courtesy,” the business will cancel financial obligation it declares he owes and stop reporting him as a deadbeat to credit firms — if he consents to resume cable television service.
“A well-established credit history will more likely allow you to qualify for lower mortgage rates, better chances for obtaining credit cards and approvals for home rentals,” the letter states, recommending that Schklair’s financial resources might be in major difficulty unless he goes back to the Spectrum fold.
“You have worked hard to build a great future for yourself and your family,” it states. “We look forward to welcoming you back.”
Maybe it’s simply me, however that has a Sopranos-like ring of “You’ve made a nice life for yourself. Be a shame if something happened to it.”
A Spectrum representative verified the letter’s credibility and called it “an opportunity to reconnect” with the cable television business. Spectrum partners with the Los Angeles Times on a nighttime television program.
All subscription-based companies strive to maintain and renew client relationships. It’s typical for such companies to lure previous customers to return with discount rates and sweetie offers.
I’ve never ever in the past seen a pitch that so blatantly threatens damage unless you occur.
The Spectrum letter informs Schklair that, in spite of his supposed financial irresponsibility, resuming cable television service will permit him “to come back in good standing as a new customer.”
“And when you become a customer,” it states, “we will both remove your debt and cease reporting it to any credit bureau.”
Like me, Schklair took that as a not-so-veiled caution that the business will make things rough for him unless he plays ball.
“It seems like corporate blackmail,” he stated. “The letter is filled with real and implied threats.”
I asked if he owes Spectrum any cash.
“No,” Schklair responded. “It’s been years since I was their customer, and they’ve never said anything about my not paying any bills.”
No notifications of missed out on payments?
No cautions about negative reports to credit firms?
“No, nothing like that.”
Yet Spectrum’s letter clearly states that if he resumes cable television service, the business will “cease reporting” Schklair’s “prior debt” to credit firms. That phrasing indicates Spectrum has actually currently sent such reports.
Any unfavorable report on your credit file can decrease your credit score, making it more difficult to obtain cash at sensible rates of interest or carry out monetary activities such as re-financing a home mortgage.
“To take advantage of this special debt removal offer,” Spectrum’s letter states, “all you have to do is purchase a Spectrum TV, internet and/or voice product.”
It particularly motivates him to register for web service at an initial rate of $49.99 a month for the very first 12 months. After that, the cost leaps to $74.99 month-to-month — a 50% boost.
At my demand, Schklair examined his credit file. He stated the only monetary mistake revealed was a tardy credit card payment in January 2020, when he ran out the nation.
“There is no negative hit from Spectrum,” he stated.
This recommends the business hasn’t really reported his supposedly overdue expenses. And if that’s the case, it would make Spectrum’s letter not simply threatening however likewise misinforming. Maybe “dishonest” is a much better word.
Schklair stated he made 2 calls to Spectrum to see what was taking place. Both service associates, he stated, discovered no exceptional responsibilities.
I shared all this with Spectrum and asked for some information. Dennis Johnson, a representative for the business, decreased to talk about information of Schklair’s circumstance.
He stated letters like the one Schklair gotten are sent out to various previous consumers who might have billing concerns. The letters are planned to assist indebted individuals discover their method back into the monetary light, he stated.
“The offer eliminates their past-due balance and stops reporting of that debt to any credit bureau — both good things for the consumer — and, yes, invites them to reconnect with Spectrum internet at a promotional price,” Johnson stated.
Giving the business the advantage of the doubt, it’s admirable for Spectrum to be going to pass up arrearage and to assist individuals preserve excellent credit.
But I’ve checked out the letter to Schklair numerous times, and I’m still questioning why Spectrum’s apparently excellent objectives are revealed in such a strongly tough-love style.
Here’s the essential line once again: “And when you become a customer, we will both remove your debt and cease reporting it to any credit bureau.”
Which is to state, if you don’t return as a Spectrum client, the business will pursue, or keep pursuing, your credit score.
That’s not a marketing deal. It’s a shakedown.
Even if Schklair does owe Spectrum some money, there need to be more tasty methods of dealing with it than threatening financial damage unless he dedicates to providing the business cash regularly.
The typical cable television costs is $116 a month.
I asked Schklair how he felt about Spectrum’s action to my questions.
“They threatened to destroy my credit,” he responded. “That’s sleazy.”
Maybe Spectrum simply figured it was a deal he couldn’t decline.