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Pipeline Data: The Thing That Wouldn’t Die!

Pipeline. I suppose when most people hear that word they tend to think of things like the oil and gas pipelines that carry so much of the fuel that currently keeps human existence ‘ as we know it ‘ running from day to day.

One might also think of things like the pipelines that carry water to homes and businesses or runoff from rain storms. And how could we forget the big sewer pipelines that take waste away from homes and businesses and deliver it tosewer large wastewater treatment facilities that turn that nasty stuff into water that can be discharged into rivers and streams in an environmentally sensible fashion.

The Pipeline I want to talk about today is quite different from those I have mentioned above. In fact, it’s not a ‘pipeline’ in the true sense of the word, even though it bears a striking resemblance to the final variety of pipeline that I just finished talking about. In my personal opinion, of course.

The pipeline I want to talk about today is a company called ‘Pipeline Data Processing.’ They are a company that offers merchant accounts to retailers who want to offer their customers the option of paying by credit or debit card. Pipeline collects the payments, deducts their fees and then sends the payment to the merchant.

For the background on this whole ugly situation, you might want to check out two older entries here and here, since I do not plan to relate the entire story from the beginning.

I was having a pretty good day yesterday. Sitting in my home office getting some work done and was just about to go outside to take care of some chores and get a little fresh air. It was a very nice day here in New Hampshire.

Just as I was about to go out, my phone rang. The Called ID display was showing ‘Glacial Star Gr’ which was obviously the name of some company whose entire name would not fit on the display. Since it was the business line ringing, I thought it was a potential customer calling from work to place and order (happens more than you might think!), or a wrong number.

When I picked up the phone, the gentleman on the other end identified himself and said he worked for ‘Glacial Star Group.’ I was expecting some kind of pitch for web-related services since our business is web-based and we sometimes get ‘phone spam’ from people who want to re-design our site for us or want to help us get more traffic to it.

Then the guy starts talking about some kind of debt that I owe and wants to know what ‘my intentions were.’

At this point I am wondering what the hell this guy is talking about and why he is calling me. He addressed me by name, so clearly he had reached the person he had intended to reach.

At this point I am not even sure what I said to the guy. I was so dumbfounded, I cannot remember my reaction.

He than made it clear that his company was a collection agency and had been hired by ‘ yes, you guessed it ‘ Pipeline Data Processing to recover a $99 debt that I owed them.

At that point I suppose you could have knocked me over with a feather. It was total and complete disbelief, which I conveyed to the guy from the collection agency. As someone who collects debts for a living, I suppose he gets that kind of reaction all the time and probably did not believe me.

But let’s pause here for a little bit of history that I did not bother to enter here way back when I was dealing with all the problems I initially had with Pipeline Data Processing.

My last dealings with them were when they attempted to extract money from my business checking account during December of 2007. Keep in mind that this was well after I thought this nightmare was over and was given assurances that my account had been closed and I would have not further dealings with Pipeline Data Processing in any capacity.

Well, since I don’t often allow too much money to accumulate in my business checking account precisely because of companies like Pipeline Data Processing, there were not sufficient funds in the account to allow the withdrawal. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the bank charged me $25 for an ‘insufficient funds’ fee. So I was out $25 because Pipeline Data Processing attempted to snatch money from my account that they should not have been trying to take.

I fired off an e-mail to the person I had been dealing with at Pipeline and inquired as to why they were trying to take money from me again. I never got a response back (she was impossible to reach on the phone) but I kept a close eye on my account to make sure it did not happen again.

Reluctantly, I decided to just let the whole matter go and see what might develop next. I was so tired of dealing with the incompetent idiots at Pipeline Data Processing that I did not have the will to get into it again with them for the sake of $25.

There are other reasons for that decision as well that I don’t care to talk about, but I will just say that a lot of things have changed in my life since that time, and I am not quite the same person I was then. I’m far more tenacious these days and not one that can be easily walked on. To say the least!

I never heard another word from Pipeline Data Processing and they never tried to withdraw money from my account again. I figured that they had realized their mistake after I sent my e-mail and actually closed the account and put a stop to any further efforts to take my money.

Fast forward to yesterday. Sixteen months after their final attempt at extracting money from my account, and I’ve got this character on the phone from a collection agency telling me that I owe him $99 on behalf of Pipeline.

Another thing the guy on the phone indicated was that they had tried to reach me earlier to inform me with regard to this matter. I confirmed he had my correct address and obviously my correct phone number, so I can only presume he was lying to me. Why, I do not know, but I feel quite confident that no attempt had been made to contact me about this alleged debt prior to the phone call I received yesterday.

I explained to him that this was all a mistake on the part of Pipeline and asked him why they simply did not contact me and let me know that they thought I owed them money. He had no answer and claimed that he did not even know if Pipeline had a collection department, which was later proven to my satisfaction to be a lie. After all, we are talking about a collection agency.

I will give the guy who called credit for being very business-like and polite for the vast majority of our conversation. At one point he asked me for some additional phone numbers I could be reached at, like a home or cell phone.

Now I wasn’t born yesterday, and I’m certainly not about to provide information that will help a collection agency get in touch with me. Especially, when the debt is not valid in the first place. That was the only part of the conversation that got a little touchy.

No doubt using some of his tried-and-true collection agency tricks, he said something along the lines of ‘I’m going to have to insist that you give me some other phone numbers I can reach you at.’ Those were not his exact words, but it was something like that, and with an stern an authoritative tone, of course.

At that point he started to get me a bit agitated and I rather forcefully told him that I was not giving him any other numbers. Sensing that he was up against a brick wall (he was quite correct), he backed off and switched back to his softer and gentler collection agency guy persona.

At this point I informed him that I would be contacting Pipeline Data Processing to resolve this matter. He then wanted to know when a good time would be to call me back, so I gave him a time and we both agreed to talk again at that time.

I immediately called Pipeline Data and managed to find my way through their phone maze to the collections department. The woman who  answered was actually quite nice and very helpful and looked up my records in their database.

There was a long pause on the line and I could picture her reading all the past entries in their database that indicated that this matter had been resolved over a year ago and my account had been cancelled and I owed them nothing. I pretty much asked her if that’s what was going on and she rather sheepishly confirmed it for me.

She then told me she would be contacting my new friends at Glacial Star Group and telling them to stop all collection activities and that I owned Pipeline Data Processing nothing. I thanked her and ended the conversation.

I then got the guy from Glacial Star Group back on the phone and told him that he should be hearing from Pipeline soon to let him know that I really did not owe them any money at all.

I happened to mention the first name of the woman I talked to at Pipeline and he said something like ‘Oh, Judy Smith’? (not her real name), which is what tipped me off that he had lied earlier about having no knowledge of Pipeline’s collections department. The woman I talked to worked in the collections department ‘ a fact that the guy from Glacial Star Group obviously knew. I’m quite sure he knew she did not work in the janitorial department!

Still, he was very polite and business like throughout the whole process, but I have no doubts about how that situation might have turned if Pipeline had not called off the dogs, so to speak.

The bottom line is this: I cannot imagine a worse choice than Pipeline Data Processing for anyone who is considering opening a merchant account. My advice is to stay far, far away from that company.

Any company that comes back after sixteen months of silence and hires a collection agency in an attempt to collect $99 from me that I never owed to them in the first place has some serious problems.

At this point I am left wondering if my contact with Pipeline Data Processing is finally reached its end. Will they try to extract more money from my bank account or hire another collection agency to come after me for a fictitious debt? I wish I knew.

Let me close by saying this: If you happen to be an attorney reading this and think that I have any recourse in this matter, I’d be happy to hear from you. I don’t like being harassed, having my name dragged though the mud and essentially being branded as a ‘deadbeat,’ by having them hire a collection agency to come after me for a debt that never existed.

Plus, I might like to get that $25 back that they caused my bank to charge me when they reached in and tried to take money from my account back in December of 2007.

Like I said earlier, I’m not the kind of guy that takes this kind of crap laying down any more.

Any attorneys looking for work who think there might be something here, feel free to reply to this entry or use my contact page to drop me a line. Seriously.

Comments

Comment from Nancy
Posted: June 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

It is June 29, 2009. Same old stuff going on. Do not sign up with Charge.com/Pipeline Data for your credit card collections. This deal is going on years for me. Pipeline took money out of my bank account, without my approval. I cancelled my checking account so they would stop. Then they felt I owed them a huge cancellation fee even though I never collected money from anyone. Did not hear from ages but they turned it over to Glacial Star Group, who never even contacted me. I’m wondering is Glacial Star got into trouble because now they are using Stellar Recover to harass me. I’m wondering if I pay the $50 settlement with Stellar if this dirty deal is ever going to go away. This case has gotten so old that I would not even have all the data to supply to the attorney general. Just wish that a big class action law suit could happen. So many people have been ripped off and they are never stopped.

Comment from Christie
Posted: November 18, 2009 at 5:41 pm

The exact same thing happened to me. I had to close my checking account to get them to stop extracting monies from it even though I faxed them letters for six consecutive months asking them to close the account. Today I received a letter from the collection agent for $38. I am wondering if it is even worth my time to contact these scam artists?

Comment from Admin
Posted: November 18, 2009 at 7:36 pm

My experience with those people was nothing like I had ever experienced. The incompetence was astounding.

Good question, Christie. Makes me wonder if you paid the $38, would they be back asking for more? Wouldn’t surprise me a bit!

Comment from Nancy
Posted: December 10, 2009 at 8:28 am

Same Nancy as June 29, and it is now December 2009 and I will need to contact the Attorney General and the FBI. I paid up with, Stellar even though I thought I didn’t owe the money. Maybe Pipeline was still “pp” I closed my checking acount, that they were illegally drawing from. I have the settlement letter from Stellar and now I get a call from Glacial Star saying I owe more. This is getting too big for me, it’s like a three way fraud, so I will have to spend the holidays trying to deal with it.

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