A senseless tragedy and a call for continuing education to our industry – Lenders and Vendors

Posted on: May 20th, 2016


Who’s responsible for this tragedy?

It’s easy to blame the repo company, but what if they had an good employee who simply didn’t have enough training on how to handle these situations and he made a horrible mistake? What if he’d been working contingent assignments for a week with no income and he got to a point of desperation and he had the car and then she jumped in and took off, and his adrenaline got the best of him, and he didn’t have the training or incentive to “just say no” to following her?

Anyone who has repossessed a car will tell you that following, or even chasing a person, is not a foreign subject. As years have gone by, most of us with more experience, and more to lose, have learned that when there is a confrontation its just not worth it.  To a repossessor who gets paid straight contingency and who sees his hundred dollars driving away, it takes a lot of education and just the right mentality to say “let it go, move on”. That’s the reality of the situation, unfortunately.

I’ve always thought the bank should happily pay a “confrontation close fee” to an agent who makes the right decision, something equal or greater than their commission, and then use technology to somehow enforce that fee, or insure the majority of it gets to the agent and not just to the owner of the company.  Have the agent log in to a system and document the complaint against the customer with specifics, video or photos being added, and a GPS stamp from the scene. Whats the cost to the banks for that info versus the cost of this lawsuit?

Then send it to legal, hire an atty, turn it into a voluntary surrender in a peaceful manner, and assign it back to the same agency to pick it up in a peaceful manner. Seems so simple, but unfortunately, the cowboy mentality still exists in our industry and someone has to step up and make a change.

I don’t know this company, or the repossessor, but this situation could happen to any repo company, and I’m surprised it hasn’t already.

What do we know?  There was a confrontation and the customer took off in the car. There was an alleged chase at 70mph and she slammed into a tree and died. There was enough evidence to charge the repo man with manslaughter.

Watch the news story HERE.

What else don’t we know? Who was the lender, and how did they handle the situation leading up to the repo and why was the customer so panicked she tried to take off in the car?  Did she feel she was not late on her payments? Had she been bullied by a collector, or was there even a legitimate effort made to collect the debt and contact the customer? Maybe nothing happened between the customer and the lender, but we know that’s not always the case. It’s getting better, but it now needs to get better at the vendor level too.

Who was the repossessor? Did he have anything in his background that would have been a red flag to say he is the wrong guy for the job? Was he properly trained, and if not, whose fault is that? Do you hold the repo agency owner at fault? In my 30 years in this industry mandated training has only been a requirement for a couple years, and only from a few lenders. Many want to know you do it but they never check, or they just see you have “training” and they check the box and move on.

The note below from a relative says the family spent all their money to move the family to Utah to be with their parents and family, so maybe having their car repossessed was the straw that broke the camels back for her if she was in a tough financial spot? No matter what, this is so sad, but like many senseless tragedies, lets make an example of what went wrong and try and save the life of someone else’s mom, wife, sister, twin sister in this case, daughter or friend.

The call by regulators to mandate that lenders make sure repossession agencies train their employees to prevent situations like this is an awesome step in the right direction. The problem is most lenders still want to pay the same amount of money for the repo, and they expect the repossession agency, or those managing the repossession agencies to absorb the cost of the training, in addition to the cost of other compliance requirements that usually are just not good enough.  It’s ok to outsource the responsibility, but just be aware of the cost and the value you get when you pay versus not paying for quality.

Compliance costs money, and it takes a commitment on both sides, lender and vendor, to eliminate senseless situations like this. It also takes technology to track everything efficiently and thoroughly to insure nothing slips through the cracks. The repo guy didn’t get his training done?…well then he cant log in the software to get his assignments. That’ll get him, and more importantly his manager, to get the training needed to hopefully remind him the next time the customer gets in the car and drives away, don’t chase her!

I also believe its time for the lenders to help absorb the cost of vendor compliance and require the best training possible. I know Lenders have their own internal compliance costs going through the roof, but with vendors you will get what you pay for, and right now, its just not good enough.  The vendors margins have been cut so drastically they just flat can’t do what needs to be done from a compliance perspective as they don’t have the financial means nor the knowledge and experience to do what needs to be done in most cases. Some of the larger agencies can handle it, but the small to mid size agency thats the backbone of the industry is facing challenging times if something doesn’t change.

The good thing is there are solutions coming to the market to address this, but it also takes the partnership of the lenders to support this financially and through mandates. The requirements are specific, and the risks for the lenders are high, as the buck stops with them.

Its time lenders insist on only allowing the best repossession companies that hire the best possible employee to interact with their customer, especially given the adversity of repossessing their customers car. Its also time the lenders all recognize that they need to pay them a fair wage in comparison to the job they’re doing. I think Lenders should insist that the employee who works their account with their customer in the field, or over the phone, must be a professional, and a representative of the lending institution they can take pride in, not someone they have no idea who he is, whats his background, and what are his qualifications and what training has he undergone?  If the lender does not take on that level of responsibility and when they push it off on a 3rd party, they will be held liable, and these guys at the CFPB seem more than willing to throw down the fines when that happens.

We see some lending companies that are starting to do this, and they take pride in this. They fly our employees in for compliance and sensitivity training at their site, and its training that they’re proud of. When they take on that responsibility, then the repo, skip and forwarding companies who do not invest in quality employees and quality training will go by the wayside, and problems like this will be greatly reduced.

The repo man chasing someone’s Mom to make a $100 on a contingent repo has to go away. We’ve come too far for this to happen, and its just not fair to the Holloway family. They are the victims, those kids are the victims, as are her husband and family, but who’s fault is this really?

After you read this note below from the family, please click this link:


and give $10, or whatever you can afford to help this family bury their Mom, Wife, Daughter, and then stand up and make a difference when and where you can as things in our industry have to change. They’re at $7K so far, and trying to raise $11K for the funeral, but how awesome would it be if everyone who reads this shared it and kicked in $10 or $20 bucks and helped show this family that we all care about them, and we want to help them.

“My brother and his family recently relocated from Jacksonville, Florida to Pleasant Grove, Utah.  They moved out here to be with my parents and our family.  It took all the money they had to make the move.  Please join me in helping my baby brother pay for the funeral expenses for his sweetheart.  Any donation, big or small, will help with this overwhelming financial burden he now faces.  If you cannot donate, please join me in wrapping your arms around him and his children and lifting them up in spirit, thoughts, and prayers.  Any donations received above the cost of the funeral will be used to help take care of his family.”

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One Response

  1. An avoidable tragedy. Nice to see some light being shed on some of the underlying issues. We posted some additional commentary to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/US-Tracers-208220255902219/ and donated to their GoFundMe campaign. We challenge others in the repo/finance industry to contribute.

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