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JudgmentBuy Article:

Disputing Bills

More often than once in a blue moon, a company will charge you more than what was agreed to. As an example, people sometimes get medical lab tests done, sometimes at a doctor's office. The tests are often done by a technician that is employed not by your doctor, because they work for an independent medical laboratory company.

This article is my opinion, and not legal advice. I am a judgment broker, and am not a lawyer. If you ever need any legal advice or a strategy to use, please contact a lawyer.

If you do not have medical insurance, you often must pay the technician right after your tests are done, sometimes with a credit card. In this situation, you would probably expect your financial transaction to be complete. Sometime later, people occasionally receive a bill from the medical lab company for much more than they already paid; an amount that is much more than what would be the reasonable and customary charge for the tests that were done.

When this sort of thing happens, and you get a bill for more than you agreed to pay, sometimes the extra changes turn out to be valid. If you think they are not valid, the first step is to contact them and ask why you are being charged the extra amount. Sometimes they will have a pre-planned response, for example "you only paid only for your doctor's visit".

If you do not agree with your creditor's reasoning and plan not to pay, you might be tempted to take some sort of action. Filing a BBB complaint will not do any good, because the BBB is almost useless in modern times. Complaining on the internet is usually as useful as arguing with the wind.

If you do not pay your creditor, they will probably turn your debt over to a collection agency, that may then report the debt to the credit bureaus. Can you, and should you, sue them in small claims court for the amount they are over billing you?

One might think this is the type of situation that small claims courts are designed for. While you might win in small claims court, there is no guarantee you will get paid. Also, it may not make economic sense to sue them, with the costs of paying the court and serving them.

In my opinion, in such a situation, there would not be any grounds to sue them, because you have merely been annoyed; and you have not lost anything or been damaged yet. You simply have a dispute over the amount you owe.

Why sue them? If they are not willing to compromise on your bill, and you do not want to pay them, let them sue you; and then you can defend your position with your receipts and documentation.

In such situations, you should pay them the amount that is not in dispute, so you can prove you were not avoiding them, just disputing the extra charges they claim you owe. In such a circumstance, you have two choices, pay them what they are demanding, or do not. If you are not going to pay them the disputed amount, remembering that I am not a lawyer, this is a possible action plan. (It might be smarter to just pay them the disputed amount):

1) Get the name of the person who confirmed what they claim you owe them on their bills or statements.

2) If they send your account to collections, encourage the collection agency to sue you.

3) If the collection agency contacts you too often, write them a "cease and desist" letter.

4) Monitor your credit report and immediately challenge any collection they make on your credit report.

After the vendor or collection agency damages you in some way, for example damaging your credit report, you might be able to sue them and possibly persuade a judge to give you a judgment against them.


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