When I was 18, I acquired a ridiculous long distance telephone bill.
I made the calls and I owed the money but there was shady business going on.
When I was away at college, we all got long distance calling cards for RCI via the school. These cards had a $100 limit on how much they would allow you to accumulate before they were shut off. I used mine for months, occasionally hitting the limit and getting shut off until I paid. After a few months, they allowed me to make $200 in calls before shutting me off. I paid. The last straw was when they allowd $570 in calls before shutting off the card. I didn't pay right away because I didn't want to keep racking up charges and I didn't trust myself to have the discipline to not use the card if it was available.
The semester ended and I went home. I got a collection letter from Windham Associates, listing my debt and listing a $200+ collection fee. I called up immediately and expressed my desire to not pay $200+ to them in addition to the money that I rightfully owed. They wouldn't budge and they continued to call me until I agreed to send $50 per month until the debt was settled. Immediately after I hung up the phone, I felt outraged that they were successful at making me feel bullied into paying them money for doing virtually nothing. I went and dug out one of the old RCI bills and wrote a check to RCI for the full amount of the bill but NOT the collection fee.
I avoided Windham Associates' calls until after I received the cancelled check in the mail. Once I had that check, I accepted one of their calls. Robert C. from Windham Associates had an edge to his voice because I hadn't sent them any money after agreeing that I would. I smiled big and wide as I explained to him that I had already settled the debt with RCI. I sent them a check for the full amount that I owed them, they cashed the check, I was holding the canceled check and I would be giving him nothing. I could almost hear his face hit the floor when he realized that the easy windfall he was expecting wasn't coming.
I owed the money, it had always been my intention to pay it but that collection agency taught me a valuable lesson. Never pay what they initially ask you to pay. Always find a way to settle the debt for less.