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“I just told you: I do not know when I can pay you!”

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I would have preferred not to hear that telephone conversation between a debtor and, I suppose, a call center employee, but I suspect that each time they will be – unfortunately – more frequent, relates José David Guevara in his article in the El Financiero

The feeling of the journalist and the experience of the fellow bus passenger, according to experts, will be more common as more and more Costa Ricans burdened by debt face the inevitable when they cannot pay.

Guevara writes, “I mean it: for the sake of avoiding a few minutes of anguish on the bus that I traveled this morning, I would have preferred not to hear the telephone conversation of one of the passengers, however, that lady was in the seat behind me and spoke loudly. I suspect that they will be – unfortunately – increasingly frequent. I hope I am wrong.”

I got off the bus and walked a few blocks remembering some of the information published in recent months. The first three in El Financiero; the others in La Nación: “Delinquency increases in more than half of banks”, “What do you do when you cannot pay your debts?”, “Debt with credit cards doubled in eight years” and “Homes double debts for consumption in six years “.

Following is Guevara’s account of the overheard conversation:

– Yes, sir, I know I’m behind with the payments, but understand me, please …

She shuts up to listen to her caller.

– No, I’m not denying anything. I already told you that I have clear that I owe several installments (quotas in Spanish) …

New silence

– It is that you are not listening to me. Can you listen to me, please?

Another pause

– If you do not let me talk, I will hang up. I will hang up. I am going to hang up.

The voice of the speaker on the other side of the phone is barely heard.

– I just can not give you a date because I do not know when I’ll have the money…

– I’ve just told you: I do not know when I can pay! I have no idea.

Silence.

– It’s not that I do not want to pay. But I have no money. That’s why I do not give you a date because I do not know if I’ll be able to comply and I do not want to let you down.

Silence.

– It is that I earn by commission and the sales have been so bad that I have not received almost any salary.

A sigh.

– Believe me, please, if I had the money today I will pay, but I do not have it.

– Let me see what I can do. Precisely yesterday I spoke with my boss to see if I could do something to improve my income and well, the walls near talk more! That says everything.

Silence.

– Do what you have to do.

Suspense.

– Whatever.

Silence.

– Whatever.

Truce.

– I only ask you to give me a chance from here to Friday to see what I can do. You know it’s the first time I’m late.

Pause.

– Well get it together, because yesterday a colleague (of yours) called me to offer me other products and I said no because I owe money. Why, if I’m in debt, they call me to offer me more things.

Silence

– Yes, please, call me on Friday and we’ll talk. I will see what I can do.

Source (in Spanish): El Financiero

QTips from the experts

What to do if your salary isn’t sufficient to fulfill your bills.

  1. The rent gets paid before everything else, including food. No matter how bad it is, no matter how difficult it seems, it is going to be much worse if you do not have a roof over your head.
  2. Anything you don’t have to have, get rid of it. This includes cable TV, Netflix, Hulu anything else that is a monthly suck. In Costa Rica, air TV is alive and well. You can even get channels not offered on cable.
  3. Always a large bulk item that you could buy when you were low on food before payday (in Costa Rica, for most it’s the 15th and 30th of each month) and you might have to live a few days with nothing else.
  4. YOU MUST HAVE MONEY COMING IN!!!. If your salary isn’t enough to cover your minimum expenses, you can ask for a raise, get another job that pays better or find an extra part-time job. Though the first rarely works. and the second difficult when the job market is low and your skill set is limited.
  5. As to job skill set, you need to concentrate on getting some job training, certification, education or something else that can get you a better job and more money. Don’t wait till you’re in a better situation, you have to do it now.
  6. Charity, Take whatever anyone is willing to give you. You LITERALLY cannot afford pride. If someone offers you money, put it in your pocket, smile and say “thank you”. Nothing wrong with keeping a mental inventory to later pay back or, better yet, pay it forward.

Have you had such an experience in Costa Rica? If so, how did you get through it? What advice do you have? Please use the comment section below or post to the Q’s official Facebook page.