One clever way to deal with debt collection agencies is to do this: pit one against another.
Let me explain. Let's say you have two credit cards that are in collections, and let's say each are around $1,000 each. You don't have $1,000 or else you'd be done with them. You can settle, but let's say they won't budge. A technique I've used (and worked) is to pit one against another. Let's say you have $300 to settle. Offer to each of them this $300 and the first one to respond will get it. The other one will have to wait.
The first piece of advice is to make sure you have $300, if that's what you're going to settle on. If you don't, this deal isn't going to work.
You can also tell one that the other collector took it for $250, so if you want to match you can be done with this debt.
I am not giving advice to avoid paying your bills. If you have $1,000 to pay off a debt, do it. But if you do not and wish to settle, you could try this.
**Please keep in mind, the advice given above is only my opinion, and your
situation may be different so it would be advisable to seek legal counsel**