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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Foreclosure Fiasco

It ain't over 'till the fat lady sings and I ain't singin' yet.

Truly, I don't even know where to start and I have no intention of recapping (here, anyway), every conversation I've had in the last couple weeks with my mortgage company. Suffice to say I am outraged. Never in my life have I ever dealt with such unethical business practices. If I had, I would have switched companies immediately. But herein lies much of the problem; we consumers do not have that ability when it comes to mortgages.

Oh, sure I could refinance under a different lender. Right. With $85,000 in negative equity in a house now worth even less than the negative equity? Right. Sure. That'll happen.

Let me hit a few high points for you:

1. First the mortgage company wouldn't work with me because I called them BEFORE I had missed a payment. I called IN ADVANCE knowing that I was hitting financial trouble and asked for a solution in good faith.

2. They gave me only one option: a 3 month forbearance. I wanted to make payments or partial payments. They told me no, then when I pressed the issue, I got a reluctant "OK but you have to call this number and do it over the phone."  Me: "But won't there be an additional fee for that?"  "No, not while you're in a forbearance."  OK, fine, I made some partial payments, again, in good faith, and EVERY TIME I CALLED I had to reassert why I was making a payment, what I had been told and that there shouldn't be a fee. It was a battle EVERY TIME.

3. At no point was I ever informed that my payments, which were being withdrawn from my bank account, were not being applied to my mortgage.

4. At the end of my forbearance period I received a letter stating that my monthly payment had not changed and then asserted I was nearly $3k in arrears. I was not told not to make my October payment with the payment coupon they sent to my house with the admonition to "remit $920 to this address."  I did what a reasonable person would do and made my regular payment. No, wait..I actually made a bit more than my regular monthly payment. Again in good faith.

5. I spoke with the company to advise of the payment being sent and they told me they would apply it to what was in arrears and any future payments would be taken in order. That's when I got the foreclosure notice.  And the letter said I had until November 5, but on the phone, they told me November 4.

6. My family member sent me a check to help and I called the bank to make that payment. I had to go through the entire re-hashment of the entire mess. I called informing them immediately that I would like to make a payment to bring my account current and gave them the amount. They tried to tell me I only paid $750.  Um...WHAT?!

7. Then they informed me about the "holding account" and asked why I hadn't made my October payment. WHAT!?

8. Then they informed me that they'd received my payment and sent it back and that I would be responsible for October late fees even though the payment had been received on time. WHAT!?  They said it was my fault. WHAT!?

9. Then they forced me to pay $17.00 in fees to pay the amount to make my account current. I could not make my October payment at the same time because the money had already been taken from my account.  (yes, really)

10. Today I called to make my October payment and rehashed the same dang thing AGAIN. Several times, in fact. Because my account is current but October's is merely "late", I tried to pay online, then through the "SpeedPay" option which has a fee but a lesser fee. No. I had to call the collections department and my only option was to pay them via phone with another $17.00 fee.

11. And that's when I was informed of the "Appraisal Charge".  Um...what appraisal might this be? I was informed that was done in August without my knowledge but I was responsible for the cost. No, I said, that is part of the company's overhead, cost of doing business. Why is this being passed on to the customer? No choice..I have to pay it anyway or my account would not be brought to bear.  Oh, and what does this appraisal consist in? She tried not to answer my question but I forced the issue in no uncertain terms. They talk to neighbors and look at my house to see if I'm living there. How can they tell if they don't talk to me? What neighbors did they talk to. Really? How do they know anything by doing an "appraisal" like that?

12. So I pay the extortioner just so I can stay in my home and finally get them to concede to not charge me the "late fee" for October.

13. We finish the call with me paid up fully on my home, and in fact, beyond fully to date since they've now deprived me of a few utility bill payments I'll have to delay to December now. So much for Christmas gifts, family.   And then she says to me, "Why were you behind on your October payment?"

14. That was it. I went off, and right through the roof and I let that woman hear ever bit of my very directed rage (without profanity, mind you. I'm quite proud of myself for that particular restraint.)  I informed her that I had, in fact, as I told her, made my payment which they SENT BACK. I informed her that her company needs to communicate better, that they need to provide better payment options and in fact, if they are limiting options, need to inform the customer of the same. I informed her that had I not been sent that coupon that a reasonable person would believe indicated regular payments should resume on paper, I would not have made a payment that would be rejected. I informed her that it is THEIR FAULT ENTIRELY that I was behind on my October payment and in general, their entire process is  incomprehensible and clearly deceptive.

And then she told me the company would take "my feedback" into account.

15. I hung up and immediately began making inquiries as to which department in the State of MN I needed to contact in order to lodge a formal complaint against this mortgage company for deceptive, manipulative, and predatory business practices. A friend put a call into someone he knows at the Attorney General's Office to see if it's there, or if there is another department to contact. Or even multiple.

Here's the thing, y'all. I've worked in the business world. Many people hate auto insurance, and yeah, I get it and I've had bad experiences there, too, both as a customer and as a rep. But one thing I knew on the job: I was there to serve the customer and often had to bend over backward to help them out of some jam, even if the jam was their fault. Our different departments communicated easily and if I couldn't see some information, I could obtain it with a quick phone call and help the customer that way. Or if need be, directly transfer the customer to the person who could help them.

The mortgage company? No. Not interested in helping. In fact, clearly drooling over the idea of flipping my home in a neighborhood that already stands quite empty. Folks, if I move out, NO ONE is moving into this place. It'll remain just as empty as the others surrounding me.  They did everything they could to make it impossible to pay my loan, and in the end, I actually had to pay them in order get them to accept my payment to them!

This is not ethical! And it wouldn't be happening if consumers had more rights and could hold these companies accountable as we do other businesses.  Don't like your auto insurance - switch companies. Don't like your bank where your checking account is held, cancel the account and open one in a different bank.

Don't like your mortgage company - oh, well, sucks to be you. Even if you can refinance under a different company, there is NOTHING to prevent them from selling your loan right back into the black hole you left. As a consumer, you have NO rights which is why these companies don't help their customers: they get paid the same whether the customer stays in their home or lands on the street. There is no competition and every single customer is over a barrel. How is this NOT racketeering?

Now, I won't be quitting my job and becoming a hippie in order to hang out downtown any time soon. I'll continue going to work and trying to pay my bills, as I always have. I'm glad to have a roof over my head. But I will stand up and be counted to any department that will hear and register this complaint, and I will sign my name to it and hope to God every other person out there having to deal with this crap does the same thing.

For now, I have a home. Thank God for my family scraping the bottom of their own barrels to help me; one of them actually skipped a few bills this month on my account. I didn't know that until the check was cashed and signed over. I didn't know.

This is ridiculous. I just have no more words.


PS: God bless my family!


TLW said...

The double-speak and the tricks these companies use to rook money out of honest people is appalling. And what is the purpose of hounding someone about why they couldn't make their payments? Is the reason going to make a difference, or is it just another form of harassment? Unbelievable. I will be keeping you in my prayers.

Arthur Joseph said...

My Dear Sister in Christ your Fiasco post really brings home the immense pain and suffering of so many in your country. Here the whole financial sector is heavily regulated, monitored, consumer complaint offices fully staffed and with real authority so we do not have the debt, bank, housing crisis you experience - that said I pray intently to the Infant of Prague for you and all the USA. Fr. Joseph

Charlene C. Duline said...

I am so sorry this nightmare is happening to you. You are such a beautiful, caring and soulful person. Anybody who loves animals as you (and I) do must have a beautiful heart. I feel your frustration and I know if it were me, I would have been in tears. When I was younger, I ranted and raved at injustices. Now that I am considerably older I don't seem to have the energy to rant and rave. I am tired, and so the tears just come and if I'm trying to deal with a company online, I just softly say, "Thank you" and hang up. I cry for you. Life is not fair. I always thought it would or should be, but I'm still learning that it's not. As my tears fall, Adoro, I ask our Lord to please cradle you in His arms and to help you to not lose your home. God bless your family members who are helping you with risk to their own credit.
Peace and Blessings,

Adoro said...

Thank you, all.

I hope this never happens again, but if I stay in parish will. I'm trying to find a part time job that will work with my crazy schedule.