490 – Grasshopper: 02

490

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Colin Byars was punched in the head last February 21st and killed outside a bar in Kenosha Wisconsin. After the funeral Colin’s roommate (who was not on the apartment lease) informed the property management that he would be leaving. Family and friends removed Colin’s effects, doing a favor for the property managers, who would otherwise have had to go through formal eviction proceedings to reestablish control of the property. (Yes, even though he’s dead, they would have had to evict him if his stuff was still there.) 

The last week in April, Colin’s mother, Danelle Eckert, got a letter in the mail from CCRT Properties, the property managers of Colin’s old apartment, making a demand for Colin’s March and April’s rent, late fees for those rents, and finally, an early termination fee for leaving the apartment before the lease was up. The CRRT representative told Danelle that they did in fact know that Colin had been killed, but that their lawyer had advised them to go after Danelle for the money.

Now Danelle is under zero legal responsibility to pay anything. (In fact she has no intent to do so.) But what this means is that CRRT was demanding money from someone who owed them nothing in the hopes that they wouldn’t know they weren’t obligated… possibly even counting on the grief of a dead son to blind a mother to her lack of obligation.

I hope someone puts those people into matching strait jackets, and they all get itchy noses. Forever.

37 Responses to 490 – Grasshopper: 02

  1. All those lawyers need to get people to do *something*. Otherwise, how can the bill? Parasites.

    I voted. Voting again in an hour. This ancient geek loves your strip. Thanks!

    &

  2. Where did the “previous comic”, “next comic”, “first strip”, “last strip” buttons go?

    I still vote for her changing to monk class. With druid as distant second choice.

    As for the blog article…. I’m at a loss for words. Actually, I started writing something about a society where shameless greed has become intrinsic in the system, but then decided to delete it, for the sake of my blood pressure.

  3. That sort of thing, if it isn’t already, ought to be illegal. Wait, it IS illegal! It’s called fraud (by claiming, by way of sending the letter, that she owed them anything), and potentially extortion as well (by way of the fact that sending the letter implied a threat of legal action if she didn’t pay). If she had the money for the lawyers, I’d love to see her sue the **** out of the property management company (since anything that has a criminal penalty can also be prosecuted civilly), and press criminal charges. The lawyers who recommended the action on the part of the management company need to be fired for giving bad advice, and since I’m sure there is a contract between them stating that they will advise the company toward the company’s best interests, sued for breach of contract, as well as charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and extortion. (Yes, I’m a litigious little bastitch. Actually, it’s just that when the system is being abused, it seems to me like the best way to actually achieve justice is to make the system do its job and abuse the people abusing it.)

  4. The problem is largely caused by the fact that the current billing and credit system has been building up for decades and nobody has organized a strong resistance to its abuses yet since most of their targets tend to be people who aren’t well connected and are already victimized by other things (like job loss and medical situations) that leave them too weak to fight well. This is one small branch of it; people in most western countries (probably most countries period) need to fight for a set of rules and systems that really punish usury and fraud and to make this system standard across the world to prevent spammers and such from using international borders to protect themselves.
    Chances of it happening any time soon? Hah.

    BTW, posted a suggestion to your comment yesterday that included web addresses that seems to have been squelched (not using the right acronym in case that’s why I got squelched). It amounted to saying, “Send ‘fan art’ and guest strips to other popular webcomics or webcomics with a similar style/topic/humour,” with a bit more detail and a list of some comics that are moderate potential targets for this.

    • Sometimes the system pulls comments aside if they contain URLs as spam for me to approve later. I just checked (between sentences here) to see if there were any and there were not. Perhaps one of us missed it?

      In any case, sending fan art is an excellent suggestion. Do you have any ideas of who in particular posts the fan art they receive?

      • Uhhh… you want me to do a survey of my relevant bookmarks? Alrighty then.

        Guest strips usually work better than fan-art as far as I’ve seen. Fan art is usually stuffed on a general link off of the main page that you wouldn’t ever see if you didn’t go poking around the website after reading the comic, and only “nice” or grateful comic-masters tend to mention individual pieces they receive in their comments and nearly none ever show even a thumbnail on the main content page.
        As I mentioned in that earlier (lost) post the webcomics I can think of concerning gamers playing an RPG or sarcastic RPG humour in a fantasy setting, aside from 8-Bit Theatre, Weregeek and OotS, seem to mostly be further down the popularity ladder than would be really effective to market at, with some exceptions.
        –Legend of Bill which is currently running guest strips, recently created so possibly a good target.
        –Dungeons and Denizens doesn’t seem to have a fanart page right now that I can find (being reorganized?) and also doesn’t seem to run many (any? can’t remember) guest strips despite a very …irregular update schedule. It is still listed on the front of keenspot though.
        –Goblins has a fanart page. Not a lot else on it though, and a good comic with vaguely similar topic so possibly a good target.
        –Darken has a fanart page of thumnails a thousand miles long, but is a fairly good match and is a well-established comic….
        –Darths and Droids is a photomanipulation comic directly inspired by the old DM of the Rings, with a short enough fanart page list… this ought to be fairly popular but I don’t know the stats.
        –Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic has a fanart page that I had to go searching for… possibly not your best bet but something to check out if casting a wide net.
        –Lint has a fanart page that currently seems to have a bug in it, and plenty already on it, but is a possibility if you want to cast a wide net.
        –True Magic has a surprisingly empty fan art page….
        –B-Movie Comic — This guy has made a number of fill-in comics and it seems to work for him, he has a fan-art page that’s surprisingly empty also….
        –The Phoenix Requiem — Has plenty of room on her art page still, although the comic style, content and tone is mismatched to Heroes of Lesser Earth. I didn’t look up the stats but this artist is already pretty popular and looks set to keep getting more popular for good reason.
        –Dumnestor’s Heroes is a direct match in topic and somewhat close in humour but doesn’t seem to have a fanart page. The same artist’s Knowledge Is Power has an empty fanart page with a message from the author asking for fanart…. Don’t know how much traffic you’d get from these though.
        –Atland has very little fanart on its art and articles page but it’s not a gaming comic.

        And not a suggested target but another example: TMI Comic is a comic I visit not because of the comic itself (which I don’t like) but instead because it has a somewhat extensive, somewhat categorized list of webcomics on its main page. It’s easier than navigating through my own pages of webcomic bookmarks sometimes….

  5. To be fair, an article I found on the issue stated that the letter she received was addressed to her in her role as the administrator of her son’s estate (don’t know if she actually is handling the estate or not) and that her son’s estate and the roommate still owed money for breaking the lease. So it seems she was not being asked to personally pay anything, rather they were attempting to claim what their legally binding lease said they were entitled to from the estate of the deceased.

    But it still makes CCRT and their lawyer look like douchebags.

    • Ah. This information, if true (which I am not doubting), changes everything. It is perfectly legal, and well within their rights even, to seek final payment from the estate, and the estate is even legally obligated to pay as much of the remaining debt as it can. One would expect that the early termination clause wouldn’t apply, since he didn’t voluntarily break the lease, and in fact the estate is within its rights to ask for that fee to be waived due to that extenuating circumstance, but while it makes CCRT assholes to not waive it, it is still their choice. Now, it would be better PR for them to have waived the remaining fees, and I believe that they would have made up in good word-of-mouth anything they lost in payments had they waived all of his remaining debt, but sadly, they and their lawyers seem to disagree. A shame, really.

    • There appears to be no evidence that Danielle is handling the “estate,” or even that other than a few personal belongings that there was an estate to be administered. (Who makes out a will and leaves everything to their mom?) Danielle did have an attorney advising her who said that she had no obligation towards her son’s debts, which sounds like she was left with zero legal responsibility. (It is still possible that there was a presumption of an estate by CCRT. Still douchebags though.)

      In any event, it was really the “early termination fee” that caught my eye. Even the wording of it is horrible.

      In updated news, one Martin Walker has been caught and arrested for the murder of Colin Byars. There were numerous spectators and the fight was also caught on security cameras. The defense has moved for the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that both men appeared ready to fight. Perhaps that also means that Colin was ready to die?

      • Again, playing Devil’s Advocate – the mother was most likely listed on the lease application as a contact person in the event of an emergency – pretty standard on most apartment leases in my experience. This is so they can contact next of kin in the event something happens to the tenant. If nobody contacted CCRT to inform them who specifically was handling the deceased son’s estate (or if there even was an estate) it is perfectly reasonable that CCRT could contact the administrator of the estate by sending word to the person listed as the emergency contact. They most likely didn’t have contact information for the roommate, because he wasn’t listed on the lease (in most cases, this in itself is a violation of the terms of the lease, and can be grounds for eviction).

        • Thus my observation… It is still possible that there was a presumption of an estate by CCRT. Still douchebags though.

          • I copied this to a friend who used to work with the Wisconsin bar and he had a look around the web but couldn’t find any local references to the rent side of the story, he said it looked like only papers further afield had picked that up. What he did come across was reference to the housemate having remained in the property for two months beyond the attack without paying rent.

            Do you have local references I could point him to, while he doesn’t actually work for the state any more there’s a chance that he might drop a word in the right ears that they are being arses and it’s not how they were expected to act when allowed on to the Wisconsin bar. He might not, but it’s worth a try as he does actually care a lot about Wisconsin law being just (hence being a poor lawyer thanks to working for the state and not himself!)

            On the ‘but they were both going to fight defence’ that won’t work in the US right? In the UK the guy would be looking at Manslaughter at least…

          • The court angle for this has already been wrapped up, and Danielle basically said “fuck off.” CCRT, having no actual legal recourse, fucked off. I’ll look around for any additional coverage, but I think I found this on CNN and the local TV station’s news website.

          • OK, as I say, if you find anything then let me know as my friend was interested in what was happening lawyer wise in his State and is the sort of person who would be able to suggest verbal knuckle rapping of the lawyers involved if they were seen to be taking the piss.

  6. about the blog: thats bullshit

    about the comic: ha ha ha ha this is gonna be hilarious good work kevin i cant wait to hear what class she is now

    about the new website: lena youre doing a great job with the website i like the new format cant wait until its finished just outta curiosity will i get my christmas tree icon back? i kinda liked him

    • Thanks for the kudos on the site. Totally a work in progress – but for me its the best way to handle it. Hopefully, it won’t be too much of an inconvenience for anyone.

      As for your avatar – I can see it over there on the right in all it’s Christmasy goodness. 😀

      • For some of us, due presumably to misconfigurations at our end, the site has to be scrolled from side to side to see the entire page. Was, perhaps, Lord Clavdivs’ avatar simply scrolled over too far?

  7. So, this is not that uncommon sadly. (Not the comic – the bill collection fiasco) My mother passed away in October last year and when I phoned to notify some of her creditors the vast majority were sympathetic and helpful. But one company’s representative informed me that I was personally liable for the debt. When I told her I was positive that wasn’t correct, she refused to deal with me further, didn’t cancel the credit card, and referred me to their lawyers. Essentially she bluffed … hoping I wouldn’t know better. When I consulted with my attorney, she confirmed that this is extremely common behavior.

  8. Clark Howard (a “handle your money” radio talk show host) gets a lot of calls about collection agencies. There are agencies that buy old debts way beyond the statute of limitations and try to call the debtor (and sometimes anyone with a name similar to the debtor) and try to collect anyway. This activity is perfectly legal as long as they don’t actually threaten to sue, the the debtor can tell them to stop calling and they must comply (there is a loophole regarding the similar-name situation; they do not have to stop calling as long as they say something like “there’s a very important matter we wish to discuss with X” and don’t actually mention there’s a debt involved).

    CRRT may not be the ogre in this situation… my feeling is that they got some bad law advice. That being said, I strongly urge Danelle to write a letter (words over a phone mean nothing in today’s legal world) to CRRT telling them that (1) this is not her debt, and (2) stop calling her about the debt unless they don’t mind being sued for breaking the Fair Debt Collections Act. I’m not a lawyer… just someone who’s listened to waay too much Clark Howard. If the company is being abusive, tell them you are recording their call (and do so if they don’t immediately hang up).

  9. In my experience most people who run/work for apartment complexes are cocks. As such this story did not surprise me half as much as it just plain disgusted me. I guess if it was me though, I’d just tell them to get stuffed (only I wouldn’t use the word stuffed so much as one that starts with F) and toss their note out. If they persisted I’d swallow the urge to go visit them with a loaded revolver and go see a lawyer instead. Ah, for the days when we could solve our law problems with violence. Oh well, I guess that’s why we play games like D&D. Cause sometimes you just gotta shank a fool.

  10. The frustrating part is that these jerks really act they are “DOING THEIR JOB” by being jerks. I listen to Dave Ramsey quite a bit and he calls the collectors bottom feeders – these guys fit right in that category.

  11. Now, now, be nice, guys. We need lawyers. Every ecosystem has to have its scavengers, parasites, and eaters of vileness…