The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa on July 1, 2007 · Page 15
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The Des Moines Register from Des Moines, Iowa · Page 15

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Des Moines, Iowa
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Sunday, July 1, 2007
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Page 15
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AROUND IOWA Sunday, July 1,2007 Page3B Debt collector in D.M. fired for abusive calls FAMOUS IOWANS Character actor Lynn appeared in 500 movies The Des Moines Register ST The CBE Group says the former supervisor violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act when calling debtors. By CLARK KAUFFMAN REGISTER STAFF WRITER A Des Moines bill collector who insulted and belittled people while demanding payments for their creditors has been fired. Justin Saiz, 29, was a supervisor in the debt collection department of the CBE Group, a company that helps corporate clients, such as credit card companies, collect money from borrowers. Saiz worked for the company from January 2005 through April of this year when he was fired for violating the federal consumer protection law known as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. According to testimony at a recent public hearing dealing with Saiz's request for unemployment benefits, his bosses had frequently asked him about his tactics in attempting to collect payments though telephone calls made to people owing money. After receiving a complaint about one call handled by Saiz, a company official listened to tapes of some of Saiz's other calls. At the recent benefits hearing, Ken Braddock, senior director of operations for CBE Group, said the tapes documented several tactics that violated company policy and federal law: Saiz told a man who owed a creditor $1,804, "You are not a wealthy man ... You are screwed with this $1,804." At one point, Saiz began mocking the man, saying, "You sound like Goofy: yucka, yucka, yucka." Saiz then told the man to "stop flapping your gums." During another call, Saiz told the debtor, "All bets are off ... It's our way or no way ... You get it?" Saiz instructed one man to go get a pen and paper to write down some information. The man complied, and Saiz then said: "All right, listen very, very carefully. I need you to pay attention here." Saiz paused, shouted "Get off my phone, debtor," and slammed down the phone. Saiz admitted to the conduct cited by Braddock, but he testified that such behavior had always been tolerated, if not encouraged, by managers who wanted him to "stir things up." He claimed his "naturally aggressive nature" was responsible for his promotion to a supervisory position with CBE Group, where he handled some of the more difficult accounts. He testified that the company received "countless 20, 50 or 100" complaints that he had harassed, pressured or belittled debtors he had called. Those complaints, he said, Consumer advice THE LAW: The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers from harassment by debt collectors. ITS TERMS: Under the law, a debt collector must send you the following within five days of contacting you: a written notice telling you the amount of money you owe; the name of the creditor to whom you owe the money; and information on how to challenge a debt if you believe you do not owe the money. Debt collectors may not harass or abuse you or use profane language. YOUR RIGHTS: You have the right to sue a debt collector in state or federal court within one year of a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. If you win, you may recover money for damages suffered, plus an additional amount up to $1,000. Court costs and attorney fees also can be recovered. HOW TO ACT: You can report any problems you have with a debt collector to the Federal Trade Commission. To file a complaint, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free 1-877-FTC-HELP. resulted in discussions with his superiors but no instructions to modify his behavior. "I imagine that I received numerous, numerous, numerous complaint entries against me," he testified at the recent hearing. "No action has been taken against me to imply that I'm doing the wrong thing." Saiz said managers were aware of his actions as he often stood up in the call center and spoke loudly to debtors when he was on the phone. When asked about the man he hung up on, Saiz described his actions as a "psychological tactic" intended to show that he was controlling the conversation. Braddock testified that Saiz's actions damaged the company's reputation and that of its clients. Administrative Law Judge Bonny Hendricksmeyer ruled in favor of the CBE Group, saying she disagreed with Saiz's contention that his conduct was normal and appropriate. She denied Saiz's request for unemployment benefits. "He was demeaning and condescending mocking and ridiculing the individual on the phone with him," Hendricksmeyer ruled. "This is not acceptable conduct." Saiz, who recently obtained an unlisted telephone number, could not be reached for comment. Reporter Clark Kaullman can be reached at (515) 284-8233 or ckauffmandmreg.com By TOM L0NGDEN REGISTER STAFF WRITER Emmett Lynn was good at playing old men. His unusual talent earned him a living in movies for many years. He discovered his niche when he was just 18, performing on stage as an 85-year-old to great success. Film buffs recognize his grizzled appearance in many movies. He played old-timers of all kinds, old miners and old comic sidekicks, especially in Western movies. His characters were often called "Pops" or "Pappy." When he died and the show business newspaper Variety published his obituary, it said he had performed in more than 500 movies. Lynn was at home in films, vaudeville, burlesque, legitimate theater, radio and television. He was born Feb. 14, 1897, in Muscatine. According to archives at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, he was the son of a publisher and was "descended from Irish stock." Lynn was the first member of his family to enter show business. At age 9, he emerged as a "singer of illustrated songs" a song plugger in Denver, Colo. He had a good singing voice, and this led him to a kiddie revue sponsored by a local newspaper. Lynn was noticed by respected stage producer Gus Edwards, who cast the boy in a production of his 1908 Broadway hit "School Days." Edwards discovered Al Jolson, George Jessel and Eddie Cantor, and Lynn performed with them all. In 1913, teenager Lynn broke into movies still a new industry working at Biograph Studios under the direction of D. W. Griffith. Lynn and Jack Pickford brother of Mary were said to be the youngest performers on the movie lot. Lynn entered the Army during World War I, spending 19 months overseas. Afterward, in 1920, he was back in vaudeville before signing a contract that year with Universal Studios. When his contract elapsed, he took jobs as a freelance actor, working largely in outdoor films for almost every movie studio. In 1931, Lynn appeared in the short-lived Broadway show "Gasoline Gypsies." In 1934, he spent 49 weeks on the road PHOTO SPECIAL TO THE REGISTER EMMETT LYNN Character actor The 5-foot-7-inch actor was sometimes billed as Emmett "Pappy" Lynn. Despite his up-and-down film career, he said of working in movies: "I love it." Before developing a character, he would sketch the character first. He excelled at playing old rubes, rustics and reprobates. with a "personal tour," having started his own stage company. He also had success with radio dramas and serials for four years. But by 1939, Lynn found himself performing at a Los Angeles burlesque house as the lead in "Law West of the Pecos." He was happily surprised when RKO Studios made him a good offer, and Lynn signed a contract in July 1940 to appear in a series of westerns with Tim Holt. Today, movie and stage producer Paul Gregory of Palm Springs, Calif., who grew up in Des Moines but left in 1939 to pursue a career in show business, recalls meeting Lynn backstage at a Los Angeles burlesque theater in 1942 or 1943, after seeing Lynn's performance there. Gregory said Lynn had a "Popeye-type face" that lended itself to humor. "He was a sweet old guy. A nice guy," Gregory said. Not rejected Paul Gregory, retired stage and movie producer, rebuts a story found on the Internet that Emmett Lynn lost out on a role in Gregory's acclaimed 1955 movie masterpiece "The Night of the Hunter." NOT CONSIDERED: Gregory says director Charles Laughton did not reject Lynn in favor of veteran character actor James Gleason. "I cast every part in that movie," says Gregory, adding that Lynn was never under consideration for the role of Birdie Steptoe. SPEECH WAS VITAL: Gregory says Laughton paid particular attention to the way actors spoke and that Lynn was not very articulate, and had a "laid-back, sometimes hillbilly quality" that Gleason did not have. WORTHY OF RESPECT: Gregory says that had Lynn ever been under consideration, he would have given him all the time and respect a veteran actor from Iowa deserved. He said that when he met Lynn, the actor was charting with others about performing at "the Orpheum," and Gregory said, "Do you mean the Orpheum in Des Moines?" Lynn turned to him and said he did indeed. Lynn also told Gregory he had performed in another Des Moines theater "down off Locust Street." Gregory thinks Lynn also may have toured Iowa with a circus, possibly called the Sweet Brothers Circus. In the 1940s, Lynn played in a series of "Red Ryder" movies. When television came on the scene, he was in such popular series as "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin," "The Gene Autry Show," "The Lone Ranger," in which he performed in nine episodes, and "The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok." He even performed once on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet." Lynn's persona fit well in religious movies, and he was cast in "The Robe" (1955), "A Man Called Peter" (1955) and, his last film role, as a Hebrew slave in the 1956 epic "The Ten Commandments." At 61, on Oct. 20, 1958, Lynn died of a heart attack in Hollywood. SEtKSEi i i i i .. ! 1 1 LUBE OIL FILTER T 95 Professional Oil Change, and filter change and 27pt Inspection. Done right and value priced. Expires 8312007. "Plus tax and shop supplies. On most GM Vehicles, Corvette, Aveo, and Diesel vehicles see advisor for pricing. Synthetic oil and some models slightly higher. See store for details. BOB BfpVVfO Can' used w'tn anv othef er i . Must present coupon at write-up. 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