Addendum to trust

I realize I need to add a fact. I’ve been paying my mortgage. So why am I delinquent?

Way back when, I looked at my unemployment (then six months) and realized the mortgage payment was part of the reason I was paying $1000 more per month than I was taking in. I requested a loan modification at that time. I was told I had to miss a payment to do this. I did so.

At that point I got a “trial payment” plan – a reduced amount to pay every month while the workout proceeded.

Know what? The shortfall in those payments count against my delinquency.

So I’m behind because Bank of America told me to pay less. And because I did what Bank of America told me to do, Bank of America will foreclose on my house.

Trust?

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11 thoughts on “Addendum to trust

  1. Just a little BofA story for you. When I moved into the SF Bay area around fifteen years ago, I was looking around for a bank. I signed up with BofA eventually, because they were the only bank with a branch within walking distance of my then-residence.

    A year or so later, someone nabbed my debit card off of the counter at a computer store while I was talking to the clerk. I called it in within ten minutes, but somehow he managed to charge $800 in the mean time. I called BofA and told them about this, and they told me I’d have to send them some paperwork to challenge the charge. They said they’d send me the forms. A week later, I called and asked them what happened, and they said that they’d fax me the forms. The next day, I called again and had them fax me the forms while I was on the phone with them.

    Then I faxed them back the forms. Two or three weeks went by and I called them to ask what was going on. They told me they’d never gotten the forms, and to fax them again. I did. A week later, I called them again. They didn’t have the forms. I faxed them and stayed on the phone while the woman I was talking to went and got them from the fax machine.

    Two weeks later, I called them again, and they had never gotten the forms. So I sent them by certified mail. They called me about a week later and told me that since I was unable to get the forms to them within the required time, they were not required to refund my money. And they were quite rude about it too… when I explained what happened, the woman on the other end of the line politely informed me that she was sure I was exaggerating, and that they did have a record of the certified letter coming in, but that it had come in after the cutoff. (The cutoff that they hadn’t informed me of, mind you.)

    So I closed out my account and informed BofA that I would not be doing business with them again. I was down $800… an expensive lesson, right? Well, it gets better.

    Six months later, I was called by BofA and informed that I owed them over $1000. It seems that, although I had closed my account, an ISP that I dealt with had continued to charge me $50/month on that card, as well as on the new card that I gave them. How does that add up to $1000? Well, they told me that I was being charged a penalty for having someone charge an inactive card, plus a penalty for being overdrawn on my closed account, plus interest. Mind you, I hadn’t moved, and they had neither mailed me nor called me about this situation beforehand.

    I talked to two levels of managers, and eventually found someone who was, if not sympathetic, at least blunt. He said something along the lines of, “Look, you are no longer a customer, so we have no incentive to cut any deals or anything like that. So really, there are only two ways this can go. One, you send us the money. Or two, you can withhold some or all of the money. I wouldn’t recommend that, because these would be a dozen or more incidents over six months’ time that would be reflected on your credit score, and we also employ very aggressive collection agencies. If you wish to dispute this, I would really recommend sending us the money, and then suing us.”

    I talked to a BofA employee at a political rally a few years later. She said, on condition of anonymity, “Well, there’s a checkbox next to your name on the customer information screen, and what it basically means is ‘this person has $50k or more in our accounts.’ If the box is checked, BofA will do anything you want. If it is not checked, and you call our service center even once for anything out of the ordinary, we were instructed to, without being overly obvious about it, try to get you to ditch BofA. If we could get some money out of you while we were at it, that was even better. See, someone with only a couple thousand in an account, after they’ve called support three or four times, that’s cancelled out all the profit that we’d see from them for the next ten years. So they’re now a losing proposition, so why should we try to hang onto them? And if we’re getting rid of them anyway, we might as well make a few bucks off of them as they go, right?”

    When I started hearing about the mortgage reaming that BofA was giving people, I thought, ‘wow, I couldn’t be less surprised!’ And my lesson only cost me $1800, which is better than ‘my house.’ I guess. (Except that I couldn’t and can’t afford a house, and am instead dumping all my money down a rental hole. Which I’m not sure is a whole lot better, but whatever.)

    • Sadly, I believe it. I’d been told of BoA problems before, but silly me was expecting them to at least remain trustworthy on mortgages.

      A reminder – not just for you but for some other commenters – is that I did not get my mortgage through BoA. I got my mortgage with another company. It sold the mortgage to Countrywide. BoA got Countrywide’s servicing package back when. As the borrower you have pretty much zero control over who your servicer is.

  2. GOTCHA!

    I don’t mean that to be flip; what is happening to you is disgusting. But you’ve been had by our masters, who have a set of laws for themselves and another set for us.

    Between the lines, I read some disbelief at the injustice. The fundamental injustice of our society has been brought home to me personally many times and welcome to the lower classes where injustice is a way of life.

    If this comment seems a bit gleeful and uncaring, I don’t mean it to be. I could weep for what is being done to you and millions of others by our criminal, rich, MOTU. (Masters of the Universe) But weep is about all any of us can do until we are willing to take to the streets to redress our grievances and until we realize who our real enemies are.

    • Oh, I know there’s injustice. There is also justice. One of the things I’ve been decrying for a while is how we have been moving from one to the other.

      But I’m not yet convinced we’re completely doomed. Not least, I have received a lot of support and good advice on this incident after John’s post. It gives me hope that we can turn it around.

  3. Hi Kirk,

    I’m sorry to hear about the problem you are having. I work for Bank of America and I may be able to help you. Please email me so that I can get some information from you. (I think you should be able to get my email address fromthe form I filled out to leave this comment.

    Thanks. Beth

    • Beth, here’s how it sounds to me.

      BofA policy is to lie to people to screw them out of their homes.

      And if the homeowner effectively works the media then BofA can fix the problem.

      BofA seems like a criminal enterprise.

      • OK, my innate sense of honesty makes me say that I sorta disagree here. It’s sort of like government: the majority of the folk are doing what they’re supposed to do to the best of their ability. It’s not the whole bank that’s the problem, it’s certain people in critical positions. And even then, some of them aren’t being intentionally, well, evil.

        The main problem is that the pressures for short term profit overrode everything else among the decision group. It’s not just the banks.

      • Carl,

        I’m not sure how you think Kirk is working the media. I happen to read John Cole’s Balloon Juice blog and saw that he was asking for help for Kirk and I offered my assistance. If I was at the grocery store and overheard Kirk telling someone this, I would do the same thing. I’m not in media or PR for the Bank and I care about people. I’d like to help here and I’m sorry that you feel the way you do. Like many of my co-workers, we are not criminals, not trying to cheat anyone, simply trying to help out where we can.

        Thanks.

  4. I’d leave a note to all future Americans about what to do when your mortgage payments get too high, but then I realizes there might not be any future Americans with mortgages because the system is so screwed up right now people should NOT go get any more mortgages at all.

    Who the hell is going to WANT to get a mortgage with the banking and home ownership industries being in the shape they’re in? I wouldn’t.

    P.S. don’t forget to run for office in 2012. Campaign slogan: REVENGE!

    • Same answers as previous thread, PaulW. with the addendum that all you have to do is look at the messages from folk after the Great Depression to see these warnings.

      During the GD, Banks were usually seen as being run by Snidely Whiplash. They worked hard to shed that, to become George Bailey. Some — many, even — did so because that’s largely who they were and are. But the past decade or two have ruined that.

      Even though as near as I can tell it’s really just the Really Big Banks that have this problem.

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