How Can Century Law Firm Charge Me Fees Every Month?

Question:

Dear Steve,

I read your review of Century with great curiosity, as I was a client from Feb 2019 until a month ago.

I believe that they operate very unethical, attempting to skirt the FTC Telemarketing Rule by sending local notaries to sit with prospects on a conference call and then saying the notary was the company representative. Hence, they are eligible to charge multiple fees upfront before providing any service.

I would be happy to share my client contract with you because it will be evident to you how they misrepresented the law and manipulated the prospect (me) into feeling grateful that the company has provided this notary to comply with the law so that I could then benefit from the amazing results from the program.

I can also share my experience of how I engaged with different parts of the company over three years, from phone calls to email correspondence. While they did get results on half of my accounts, which I was grateful for at the time, the reality is they brought those issues to a breaking point by pulling a bait-and-switch when I contacted them to apply for a low-interest debt consolidation loan and then was sold on the settlement program.

I read this article, which you may have posted, where a former employee of an unnamed debt relief company describes the sales process from the inside, and I can vouch that it is 100% consistent with my experience with Century as a prospect who became a client.

And I drank the kool-aid until a few months ago when I came across the FTC regs and concluded that Century & Co. are actually predatory “helpers.”

They most likely break the law with the vast majority of clients they enroll by claiming that sending a notary to sign some docs satisfies the FTC face-to-face rule, which permits billing to commence immediately.

Their fees also seem excessive, particularly the $90/month legal admin fee that is charged monthly to each contracted client with nothing to show for months.

An example from my case: I had seven accounts from 4 banks enrolled in February 2019 and began making installment payments in April 2019. Century negotiated a settlement plan with Bank 1 spanning from January 2020 to Dec. 2020. Then they negotiated two more plans with Bank 2, spanning May 2020 to April 2022.

Every month I was charged a $90 legal admin fee and a pro-rated portion of the Century service charge. I was also charged $10.95 per month by Reliant Account Management (a third-party bank) and their annual fee of $20. Also, every monthly payment that went to Banks 1 & 2 was charged $10 by RAM, which added $10, $20, or $30 in fees each month.

Everything was set up as autopay, so what justified the Legal admin fees every month?

Anonymous

Answer:

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Not to be abrupt, but you asked, “so what justified the Legal admin fees every month?”

The answer is short and sweet; you authorized them to charge those fees.

What?

If there is a lesson to be learned here that we can share with all, the lengthy client agreements many debt relief groups rush you to sign contain critical details most miss.

The 10, 20, or 30-page agreements are daunting, especially when someone is visiting your home encouraging you to sign the contract and can’t answer your questions.

I may be critical of a lot of debt relief industry practices, but one area that most companies do consistently okay is describe the fees and services they offer in the client contract.

This might be buried in fine print and legalese pages, but it is in there.

Another nugget you will generally find is that whatever the salesperson told you on the phone does not apply. The contracts typically say that only what is described in the agreement is what you are purchasing and agreeing to pay.

As a consumer, you have all the power to make sure a company does not deliver less than you assumed it would.

But that power rests in you reading the client agreement, asking all questions about any items you want to be clarified, and being satisfied with the answers, all before signing.

You will notice most debt relief companies do not make their client agreements public so people can review them in advance or without being rushed.

The general industry strategy is to rush people through and close the deal, so it takes less time, or essential facts may be missed.

I think it is critical at this point for you to find the client agreement you signed and read it carefully to ensure the fees in question are described in the contract.

All of this being said, to help educate readers, you may want to follow the process I lay out in this post to attempt to resolve your issues.

The best solution at this point is going to be with you expressing your concerns to the company and giving them a chance to respond and provide a satisfactory customer service resolution.

If they fail to meet you halfway or address your concerns, the post does give an outline on how to escalate your dissatisfaction. Hopefully, it won’t come to that and the company will address your concerns construtively so everyone can be satisfied.

Sincerely,

You are not alone. I’m here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don’t give up.

Do you have a question you’d like to ask me for free? Go ahead and click here.

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach