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I lost my full time job the day before Thanksgiving last year. I am college educated, have worked in customer service for years, and thought I would be able to find a job quickly and easily.

Not so. For over 6 months I looked for full time employment, driving cabs, babysitting, and waitressing to bring SOMETHING in, eventually selling my professional flute, appraised at $10,000 for a mere $3000, just to stay afloat and keep my utilities on and my house rent no more than 2 months behind. I am by no means a deadbeat. Recently, I arranged to have my past due balance with Appalacian Power, a subsidiary of American Electric Power split into three equal payments, to be paid in addition to my monthly bill to get caught up.

The final payment was due Monday, Oct 17, the same day I got my first paycheck from my long-sought job. The amount due was $550, but my ENTIRE check was only $450. I called AEP from the payment location and asked if they could extend my arrangement for 1 more week, considering I was willing to pay over 80% the balance immediately. My offer was summarily rejected and I was told to seek public assistance for the additional $100 or my service would be scheduled for disconnection, and that it must be done TODAY to meet my payment arrangement.

I lost a day of work going to social services only to be told that since my husband and I now both work full time we do not qualify for "general assistance" as it is called, since that is a program that has been cut back in our state due to the economic crisis. Instead I was handed a pamphlet of about 20 different charities and churches who "might" be able to help. With no time to contact these charities and the clock ticking on my electric service, I was forced to borrow money from my parents', one of whom is terminally ill, in order to keep the power on for myself, my husband, and our two preschool aged daughters. I was so angry at the time that I needed to collect my thoughts before confronting the situation.

I paid the bill and came home, still angry and upset. The next day, I called AEP to complain about the inflexibility of their reps and the situation they had put me in, explaining that they had cost me a day of work and forced me to ask my terminally ill mother for assistance. I asked for a supervisor to call me back. When the supervisor called me back it was from a Michigan phone number, nowhere near the Appalachian Power "headquarters" in Charleston, WV.

This is how I found out that the person who called me back worked for NCO financial, NOT AEP or Appalacian Power, as she represented herself to be. The way I discovered this was by calling the phone number she called from back, and the rep answered "NCO financial". At that time I advised said rep that I had caught the company in the fraudulent business practice of misrepresenting themselves professionally and asked for the contact info of the person who authorized that behavior so that my lawyer could send him a few pieces of paperwork.... LOL.

The woman got back on the phone after keeping me on hold for about 5 minutes and said she was advised by a supervisor they could not give out information like that and I would need to file a complaint through AEP. I then stated that my complaint actually had nothing to do with AEP and I would not waste my time running in circles. I informed the rep that I am not an ***, I have their general mailing address and would have my lawyer send the paperwork there, addressed to "Whom it may concern". It ought to concern EVERYONE from the CEO to the janitor who works for that crooked company, because fraudulently representing yourself as a collection tecnique is against the law, and I intend to pursue that breach of the law with vigor.

These people are unreasonable, uncaring, dishonest, overzealous, and not a one of them can get away from the very specific and ILLEGAL talking points that they have been given. Everyone I have spoken to has given me the EXACT same response... almost word for word.

These people are pathetic. Don't pay them a damned penny if they call to collect, and write your congressman if you are forced to deal with them for your utilities.

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Get a life.


Lawyer is working up papers as we speak.... He has at least 5 other clients with similar issues. Can someone say "Class action"?

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