Over the years of providing debt relief related products and services, I have been hyper critical of companies operating in my industry. My criticism can be found in public commentary with regulatory agencies, main stream media articles, radio appearances, and on this very blog.
Why the criticism?
I find most companies offering debt relief, most specifically debt settlement, to have and to continue to use; Business practices that are harmful to the consumer and the negotiation effort itself.
It is indeed rare that I can point to a company and hold them, or a specific practice they have, in a good light.
A few weeks ago, I came across a press release that caught my attention. It was a debt settlement service provider openly and publicly discussing their refund policy. I was surprised by this type of business practice being self published. It is extremely rare for a company in my industry to issue an unprompted press release on the topic of refunds. Most companies, often enough, do not even provide refunds, let alone issue them as fairly as the one published in this press release: OVLG – Money back policy for consumers – how to maintain corporate social responsibility.
Oak View Law Group
With little effort, I was able to research further into this company and find additional surprises. One of which is their fee model. They have up to now, been charging one of the fairest fees for services I have seen in my industry. They charge a small retainer, with the bulk of their fee being collected after a settlement is reached with a client’s creditor. Up to now, I had known only a handful of companies operating with a success fee. With the enactment of new telemarketing rules by the Federal Trade Commission, the majority of service providers will now be charging fees only after they get results (a welcome and necessary rule).
I was also able to communicate with the head of the firm and learn more of what drives this company from the top down. I have found that the few “stand out” and recommendable companies in my industry (that I am aware of), share some core similarities. One of these similarities is: The attitude and principled nature of owners and management, which shows through to their employees and support staff, which in turn lead to how they manage and fulfill their commitment to their customers. In my research and communication with the people at Oak View Law Group, I see an example of principles and fairness that many in the debt relief space (or any industry) should look to emulate.
Recent regulatory changes are creating a climate that will lead many existing debt relief companies to change how they do business, or close up shop. Many remaining companies will down size and cut costs. Not only will OVLG still be here when the dust clears, but I have learned of enhancements that they have put in place to create even more value for their clients.
While OVLG could be considered a competitor to my company, I don’t see it that way. Most anyone would recognize the differences between OVLG and CRN when comparing the two. I believe there is ample room for reputable firms to do business in this industry. Its high time good companies started recognizing one another.
Several months ago, I set out to begin to identify debt settlement companies that would be able to adapt to the new operational realities and who would be here next year, and for years to come. I was able to identify a handful. I will endeavor to highlight them, in no particular order, in coming blog posts.
Best of Success to Oak View!