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Date: Thu, 28 Jan 93 11:15 PST
From: (John Higdon)
Organization: Green Hills and Cows
Subject: Re: You Didn't Accept a Collect Call, But You'll be Billed Anyway?

On Jan 24 at  3:04, TELECOM Moderator writes:

> [Moderator's Note: Another of our regular contributors could tell a
> similar story about having been in business *as a corporation* for a
> period of time and going out of business, only to have AT&T come to
> him personally for the unpaid phone charges later on, insisting that
> he was responsible for the corporation he formerly was associated
> with.

Yup! When it came time to shut down the old sales and service firm, it
appeared that there was not quite enough money to go around. After the
Federal, state, and local taxes were paid in full, there were a few
bills left that went begging. So we turned the whole mess over to a
bankruptcy attorney, who was to handle the chapter stuff for the

About six months later (the bankruptcy was never filed for various
reasons), I got a call from a collection agency representing AT&T. His
demand was for a $1,000 bill that was left owing for a nationwide WATS
line. By this time I had become quite rehearsed: "This is a bill owed
by a corporation which has a bankruptcy pending. Please contact
[bankruptcy attorney] for further information." At this time, we had
still intended to file.

But Mr. Collector would have none of that. He informed me that my name
was on the account and that I was PERSONALLY liable. Since I make it a
practice to NEVER sign any personal guarantees, I asked for a copy of
the document backing his claim. "You know very well that AT&T does not
have to have such a document!", he asserted. Then he went through all
the usual threats of ruining my personal credit and pursuing legal

Ah, legal action! He pushed the magic button. First, I reminded him
why corporations are formed in the first place. Then he was told that
I am represented by counsel. "This is between you and AT&T, you don't
need to try to get other people involved." So I let him have both
barrels: "I did not personally order the service; a secretary did.
Even if I had done so myself as president of the corporation, it would
have been on the corporation's behalf and not on my own. You may sue
the corporation; you may even take a shot at me personally. But I
never want to hear from you again."

Then I slammed the phone down. He called right back. "I am only trying
to be reasonable", he whined. Then he offered to let me pay a portion
of the bill. No dice. (If one pays any portion of an obligation of a
corporation or other entity, it is viable evidence that the person has
assumed responsibility for that entity.) I slammed the phone down
again. His calls over the next several days were picked up by my
machine until he made his fatal error. He left a call back number (in
Chicago -- are all the slimebag collectors in Chicago?) which I handed
over to my attorney and let her call him back.

That was the end of it.

John Higdon  |   P. O. Box 7648   |   +1 408 264 4115     |       FAX: | San Jose, CA 95150 | 10288 0 700 FOR-A-MOO | +1 408 264 4407

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