Sterling Jewelers — awful experience
I am a former employee of "kay jewelers, " otherwise known as Sterling Jewelers. I used to work for over five years in the 60 days collections department out of the home office in Akron, Ohio. I am writing this report for both customers and employees that deal with this company. Sterling Jewelers is the owner of multiple jewlery stores throughout the USA. Some of the brands are, Kay Jewelers, J.B Robinsons, Belden's, Jared's, Osterman's, and about a half dozen more.
I am complaining about their 60-days collections manager, named Myron Olijar. Myron Olijar is a really seedy individual. I have no idea how he got promoted to manager. The following note is for those that currently work at Sterling: WATCH OUT FOR HIM! Myron knows the FDCPA (Fair Debt Collections Practices Act) very well, yet he barely enforces it. The FDCPA is a piece of law that regulates how a debt can be collected, what is legal and what is illegal. Granted, for anyone that works in collections, we all know that the overwhelming majority of the customers that fall into collections is because they are just going through a difficult time financially. Sometimes you have a sick child, get a pay cut at work, get layed off, or have an unexpected car repair. It all happens to us. On the other hand, there are deadbeats out there that simply buy stuff and don't want to pay for it, but these customers are few and far between. Well, whether you are a deadbeat or just living pay check to pay check, Myron Olijar doesn't care. I've heard this man laugh on the company floor when there is a account to be collected on, "Oh, we'll just harass them, I mean, uh, we'll collect on him." Obviously, he does this tongue-in-cheek in a very sarcastic manner. But Myron does indeed harass customers. What is worse, though, is he doesn't personally harass the customers, he gets his supervisors and his collectors to do it for him. Here are a couple of examples: FDCPA states that we are allowed to contact the customer only once a day by telephone. Myron on the other hand, will have his collectors call customers REPEATEDLY throughout the day. Myron in fact, has his collectors break the law once they have already contacted the customer, and the customer is either unwilling or unable to pay, and then has them contact the customer again. This is particularly true for balances that are over $1000. If a customer cannot or will not pay, they usually will hang up on us. What Myron Olijar will have his collectors do, however, is to have them call the customers back and say, "We got disconnected" and then attempt to collect on the account again. If this doesn't work, Myron then will have his supervisors and collectors go on a skiptracing search engine like, "peoplefinders.com." and look up all of the customers relatives, friends, neighbors, roommates, co-workers, you name it, anyone or everyone that has had any contact with the customer. Myron will then have his subordinates leave messages with anyone that is willing to take a message. I was forced by Myron to leave messages with neighbors and friends of a customer. FDCPA states that collectors can indeed leave messages with others, only if they are "familiar" with the customer. Here is the grey area Myron Olijar really exploits. Who are we, collectors out of Akron, Ohio, to know who is familiar with one of our customers in Texas, Idaho or California? We don't, and as long as customers do not know their rights, Myron keeps exploiting his collectors into doing this. Another illegal thing myron has his collectors do is when, for example, a customer's due date is say, "August 15." But the customer does not get paid until "august 16." Myron will have his collectors do a "post dated check over the phone." The idea is that there is some lag time between the debit on the customers checking account and the credit into Sterlings account. Myron will do this knowing perfectly well there is a chance that this check will bounce. If the check bounces, then Sterling is able to charge more finances fees. Another illegal thing Myron does is even sleazier. For example, if one of our customers is in collections, chances are he is in collections with his Visa Card, Car note, mortgage, etc. The customer is probably getting dozens of calls a day. The customer gets so desperate that they are willing to do anything to get the calls to stop. What Myron has his collectors do, then, is to tell customer, "THe collections calls will only stop until you set up a payment over the phone." But the customer will usually say, "I don't get paid until the end of the month." Myron then will have his collectors say, "Well, we can set up an automatic payment to debit your account until then." But here is the grey part again, the customer did not tell us if he can afford the payment or not. Sometimes the payments can be as high as $80/month. So these customers are so desperate to have the collections call stop, that they will indeed to a post dated payment over the phone, both the collectos know and the customers know that the cash probably will not be there at the end of the month. But Myron is able to exploit this. When the check bounces, Sterling is able to charge another fee, yet Myron is able to include this amount into his quota and get his monthly bonus anyway.
So as a wrap up: these are the four illegal things that Myron Olijar usually has his collectors do: 1.) call customers back repeatedly the same day after contact was made. 2.) leave messages with dozens of neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, or anyone else that could be "familiar" with the customer. 3.) do post dated checks over the phone into the future with the full knowledge that they might not debit in time 4.) threaten the customer with more phone calls if a posted dated check is not made into the future, knowing well that the cash is not there.
So, how does Myron Olijar do this? There is this unwritten code at Sterling when it comes to collections, "Whatever works." In other words, you can do basically anything you want, but just don't get caught, and if you do, don't count on your superiors to get you out of it. Myron Olijar really does force his supervisors and collectors to do this. He always hits his numbers because of this. Unfortunately for some, though, is when they do get caught, they ended up getting fired. I've known dozens of good people that have worked at Sterlings collections for 10+ years, only to get fired for doing what Myron Olijar has told them what to do.
My advice for current customers: Know your rights. Take down names and times you've received phone calls. Myron has been fired from Sterling before in the early 1990s, but for some awful reason the brought him back. Illegal stuff goes on at Sterling all the time. When this stuff actually leaks to the media, they usually clean up their act for a few months, then slide back into their illegal practices. Its just a "big cycle." I'm sure that there are plenty of former Sterling Employees that are more than willing to back up what I'm saying. I could not in good faith continue working there. One of my supervisors was fired for doing exactly what Myron told him what to do. After that happened, by put in my own two week notice. I am working at a restaurant now, making less, but at least I know I'm not doing anything illegal or immoral. Shame on your Sterling Jewlers and shame on you Myron Olijar!
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