Collections Law/Collections Question
Hi Ray. I have an interesting situation and I'm hoping you can set me in the right direction to resolve it.
In Sept 2012 I entered an outpatient rehab program to deal with a alcohol problem I had at the time. I attended two day-long sessions per week for three weeks (6 sessions). I was told when I enrolled that I had to agree to urinalysis tests to see if I was drinking. These tests were supposed to be around $50 each and were not covered by insurance. I agreed and submitted a total of 6 samples in those 3 weeks. A year later I got a bill from the lab that conducted the tests for $2,100. That's $350 per sample (not what I agreed to). In looking at the bill I saw that the alcohol portion of the test was indeed $50, but they also tested me for for several other substances (e.g. cocaine and heroin) that I was not seeking treatment for. When I questioned the rehabilitation center (which contracts out the lab work) they said that even though the the lab can provide an alcohol only test, the rehab center only orders the full workup for everyone, and the issue was between me and the lab.
This honestly is beginning to feel like a scam and I that I was lied to. I have offered to pay what I agreed to for a total of $250, but the lab is still going after me for the full $2,100. What can I do get these people off my back and protect my credit without having to hire a lawyer?
Thank you very much for your question Chris. First off, you need to start a collection diary on this account and record everything you do. This will included any written correspondence to or from anyone as well as all telephone conversations. The telephone documentation should include the date, time, name of the person you spoke with and the gist of the conversation. It would be nice if you had written documentation of you agreeing to giving six samples and the fact that they would be $50.00. When considering the following please take in to account anyone that might have been with you and witnessed the conversation. Write a certified letter to the lab explaining what you agreed to and what you were told. Tell them that you dispute the amount of the charges and agree to pay the original amount. Tell them if they refuse to adjust this bill accordingly you will report them to the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, your state's Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission. Be prepared to do exactly what you said you would do. If you have to report them, sent a copy of the letter you sent to them to all of the agencies. This does sound a bit like a bait and switch situation however, they may have paperwork that you signed agreeing to the more expensive test. I do not know your state of mind at that time so, I can not advise you as to what your rights were concerning your signature. It could be possible that this ends up in court so please document everything carefully.
I will you the best with this situation.