Customer Disservice

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This is a response to nepaliaustralian’s post on customer disservice.

A few years ago, my ex husband I ran into a problem with our mortgage company. I handled all the bills and paid the mortgage on time. Well, one month, for some reason they deducted our mortgage from a stranger’s checking account. Obviously, that person became enraged and had her money given back. The mortgage company then fixed their mistake and withdrew money from our checking account.
The reason we know they first drew money from someone else’s account? Because, our next bill contained a balance for TWO mortgage payments and a hefty late fee. I immediately called the company and said, very clearly that our mortgage had been paid. The person on the phone went through records and said that the bill had been paid from account #…. and that a request from the bank said the payment was in error and they refunded the money. I told them that my bank statement clearly shows where our mortgage came out of my checking account number and not the number they had in their file. They asked me to fax them a copy of my bank statement and would fix the problem.
So I paid the one month due (ignoring the past due balance that I was promised would be fixed) and faxed a copy of my bank statement showing where my checking account was drafted for the mortgage payment.
The next month, a new bill, with now three months of mortgage payments due and an even heftier late fee and non payment fee and balance carrying fee. Also, we were issued a rather threatening letter that our non payment was now going to be reflected in our credit reports. We were also told that if we did not pay the balance in full, the bank would refuse to collect in future payments.
So I called again, explained the situation and was order to send in TWO bank statements showing the mortgage being drafted from the checking accounts for the past two months. I was told to mail in only one payment and to ignore then threatening credit letter.
Next month (now four months after the first payment) I receive a letter stating that we are now four months in arrears and that we are not to send any further payments until all four mortgage payments could be paid in full. The letter also stated that a credit bureau had been made aware of the non payment. The letter concluded that if the full payment was not received we were likely going to be faced with legal, action…whatever that means.
Now, I was furious, I marched into a local branch where I had copies of my checks that had been cashed and copies of my own checking account showing the payments being deducted and demanded that the manager correct the account.
Reason one to never bank with a large institution, the local managers have just about as much power to fix the situation as you do. I was told there was nothing that could be done and the manager called the EXACT SAME phone number that I’d been calling. After explaining that we had proof that we paid our mortgage bills and that the letters were obviously in error the manager was instructed to take a single months payment and fax over the proof of payment. So she complied and tried to take a payment. The computer would not allow her to take a payment. It said that our account had a hold and that no payments could be applied except the full amount. So she called customer service back.
The customer service line said that they would “escalate” the request for assistance. The person we spoke to next informed us that the bank was aware that there was a problem with our account and they were investigating the situation.
What investigation was needed? They had several bank statements showing our payments being made, receipts for payments made, cashed checks for payments made, and a bank center manager backing up our proof and yet we still couldn’t pay our mortgage, were facing our credit being punished, and whatever legal action might come next.
The manager took our single months payment and put it into some sort of escrow account to show that we had attempted to make the monthly payment on time so that we could avoid more fees, that were now almost as high as a single mortgage payment itself.
Now, the next month we went into the bank once or sometimes twice a week to ensure that the mortgage company was concluding their investigation. Time after time, we had to explain the story time after time, and time after time was told that we needed to be patient while the company escalated the account.
Finally, six months after our first payment that was inexplicably drawn from our account and some strangers account, was fixed. The bank established that the reason for the error was that someone had entered our account number incorrectly into the computer system and later corrected their own mistake. No reason was given for why, if the mistake was corrected did it appear that for months on end we were not paying our mortgage when we were. The company credited our account for the payments but still expected us to pay all the fees incurred from their mistake.

It took another three months to get all the escalation finished that needed to happen in order to reverse the fees. Almost a year after we never missed a payment, yet somehow didn’t pay, our mortgage account showed the proper balance. So there is my customer disservice story.

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