Collection agency adventures
Excalibur has 1,500 to 2,000 active accounts

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 10/97) - A Yellowknife collection agency with 1,500 to 2,000 active accounts is reporting a success rate topping 75 per cent.

Warren Chomiak of Excalibur Services Ltd. says 85 per cent of the people who come to his office say they're not paying, and the rest have had a bad turn of events. They've lost their job and are willing to make small payments.

And the reasons are numerous.

"It ranges anywhere from the absurd -- the vehicle they bought doesn't work, there's no insurance on it, their Ski-doo was stolen or on fire and -- I don't have it, ergo, I'm not paying for it. They're looking for something free, there's no level of responsibility, said Chomiak.

Excalibur's more than 100 clients include the cable company, banks, dental offices, hotels, construction companies and gas businesses.

The collection business takes the skills of salesmanship and communication -- and a sense of humor. "It certainly isn't a make-friends business. They blame you even if it's their debt," said Chomiak.

"One guy took the longest time to get the money out of him. He treated me like a jerk.

"After he paid, he was real nice. He said: 'I'd like to offer you a trip to a fishing camp in Cambridge Bay -- take you out to the middle of the lake, tie a rope around your neck and drown you,'" said Chomiak.

"In the South it's a different way of handling things. We don't scream -- we take a rational approach. It's a mixture of letters and discussion. In the South you never see a collection agency go door-to-door. Here we do field calls to peoples' houses."

One of the worst excuses he's heard was: "My dog sled team is all sick and I can't make it into town."

Chomiak said the man on the other end of the phone thought he was talking to a collection agent in Vancouver who didn't know better. And the collection was on his nearly new vehicle.

The man paid about an hour later.