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RISMEDIA, March 31, 2010—Without a job for almost a year, Lori could not keep up with her orthodontist bills for her son. She had always paid on time, but circumstances outside her control had taken over. Lori met with the dental office manager and explained her situation.

The manager checked her records, and after complimenting Lori on her excellent payment history and customer loyalty, offered to waive the over $1,800 that was remaining on Lori’s bill, remove her son’s braces and provide a retainer at no further cost. Wow! Lori was grateful and decided she would use this orthodontist for her other children at the appropriate time.

With decreasing disposable income and increasing bills (debt), many American families are faced with tough choices: Pay the cell bill or cable bill? Purchase fuel or food? Pay the mortgage or schedule surgery? These are tough choices faced by many families every month.

Credit card companies, lenders and service providers often offer emergency hardship programs designed to help customers who have lost jobs, become ill or endured some other setback in managing family credit.

Although it was much more challenging to get creditors or service providers to extend reduced payments or improved terms during better economic times, these opportunities have significantly increased over the last two years. With the ever-growing threat of credit defaults, bankruptcies and foreclosures, many creditors are creating more effective and flexible payment options for their customers.

Service providers like Lori’s orthodontist are competing more than ever to grow and maintain their client base as they continue to lose customers due to economic reasons. This ongoing client attrition places an extra strain on servicers to offer more appealing deals and options.

In many cases, a strategically placed phone call or personal visit to the right person (decision maker) can often result in reductions of outstanding balances, interest rates or terms and, at times, a complete write-off/waiver of remaining balances.

Jeff Mandel is president and Marlin Brandt is COO of ApprovalGUARD.

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