Monday, April 19

Mancat Monday & Navigating Bank of America Purgatory

Wow, here's someone I haven't seen on my desk in a looong time--Kosmo!

Kosmo sez, well, Ma, maybe it's cuz o'dat flashy ting! Now, go 'way!

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While I'm waiting for the Dave Ramsey talk show to come on, I thought I might share out adventures in Bank of Americaland, AKA Purgatory or even BOA-Hell.

It all started last year when we realized how difficult life was trying to manage the mortgage we had. It's way more than 30% of our new income now that TB is disabled and unable to work too. I called one month to let them know we were going to be very late and lo and behold! I find out we might qualify for a restructuring program.

We filled out the paperwork filled with hope and sent it back overnight mail. Then we waited to hear. It would take at least 45 business days. We were able to make our payment but after paying it, our gas and electric bill, vites/supplements/protein we require post surgery, water/sewer, telephone/cable and food/gas, we had nothing left over...not for haircuts or lunch out, never mind car repairs and emergencies. We sweat through Christmas and give home made gifts to the immediate family. We try (successfully) "Secret Santa" for the family.

In the meantime, a new issue crops up. See, our original mortgage holder was Taylor, Bean & Whittaker and we'd never had a problem with them. All of a sudden, though, our account (and everyone else's with this company it turns out) went to Bank of America Home Lending. I didn't learn until recently that Taylor, Bean & Whitaker actually folded. Anyway, our last mortgage payment was sent to them and was supposed to be forward to Bank of America...but apparently it wasn't. That started a back and forth you-didn't-pay-yes-we-did merry-go-round ride. That's another long story for another post.

In January, we still haven't heard anything so I begin calling. First of all, the call centers have been outsourced to countries outside of the United States. Fluency in English apparently is not a prerequisite for working in the call center. Not only is it hard to get someone to understand what I need, I'm put on hold for 20 minutes while someone new is fetched. One day I spent nearly two hours on the phone and spoke to 8 different people. I guess it was that day that I finally learned the truth because I refused to hang up or allow some phantom to call me back. Believe me, they sure tried to get me off the phone.

I finally got a supervisor with Person #8. First the supervisor told me we'd never sent in the paperwork and so our application had been denied on the basis of "lack of evidence". I had the receipt from overnight express however and after a long time on hold and many requests to call me back, he finally comes on and admits that yes, they did have the paperwork but that our application was turned down because we didn't qualify for that program. Further, the supervisor informed me, they knew when they received the paperwork that we wouldn't qualify for that program because we weren't three months delinquent. Incredulous, I wanted to know why they'd even bother trying to get us into that program and he goes, "I don't know."

Supposedly at that point, Bank of America dropped the call. I had to call again, run another gauntlet of people who don't speak English and finally talked to someone in a department with people at risk of default--which is where we should have been directed in the very first place! The man I talked to qualified us by phone and said he would transfer our paperwork to this new application but it would be another 45 days before we heard anything--March 25, he promised.

So when I call back a few days after March 25 (trying to give the SOBs the benefit of the doubt) and asked for this man, I was told (a) there was no such person and when I began to panic (b) we couldn't speak to the same person we originally called because there are call centers all over the place and God knows who's picking up the phone. Isn't that just reassuring? Anyway, I asked about our application and the woman tells me that everything is backed up because there are so many people needing help but she's going to put in a "rush" so that we hear in 5 business days.

She also says we're waiting to hear from "the investor" who's going to decide whether or not we will be backed and then there's a bunch of new forms to fill out. What investor? I ask. She says, I can't say.

Now, I haven't put down anyone's names but I have been collecting them and, trust me, it hasn't been easy. You want to talk about reluctant? It's like pulling teeth and especially from this bird.

Next I call HUD (Housing & Urban Development) which is where the Making Homes Affordable program originates because I'm not trusting BOA anymore. She asks me if they sent me "a packet" and I say no, the woman told me we'd get the packet after "the investor" approves us. The HUD lady says that's not correct and I about died. She has me go to a website to download information and applications there. She said to get back with the bank in the five days to see what they say and, meantime, get this packet ready to go.

When I call back to BOA, of course I can't speak to the woman I'd talked to most recently and so I record yet another man's name and proceed. After being placed on hold for a long time, the man comes back and tells me our application has been denied due to lack of information. I feel like I'm about to have a nervous breakdown. The man says our application was turned down March 10th and I totally flip. Why didn't that woman tell me when I called on March 31? That should have been in our file! He says, I dunno. I go, why were we never notified by letter or email or phone call? He goes, I dunno. Then he offers helpfully (ha) to put in an emergency request to qualify us for this program and generate new paperwork...but it's going to take five days and oh, by the way, someone will call us to tell us if we can qualify.

Uh-uh. I don't believe them anymore. I don't trust them. He says okay, if you don't hear back in five days, just give us a call.


I ask to speak to someone over his head to complain about this entire situation and he says I could call "the office of the president" and someone will "take care of it" right away. He gives me the phone number but doesn't offer to transfer me.

I call the number and, of course, it's not the office of the president nor will they take a complaint because the representative didn't file it for me. The lady I speak to, though, does offer to help make sure the representative did the correct thing. Now ... here's why I haven't used anyone's names in this post. I give the woman his name--the guy I was just talking to--and she says, "oh, but that's not his real name."


Is it time to call Dave Ramsey yet? I think it is...


Cindy said...

That is unbelievable!! I don't know how you are handling this situation, I would be tearing out my hair!

Kosmo looks like he owns your desk!!

Au and Target said...

All banks suck. But Kosmo must make you feel better just by looking at him! he's very handsome

Michelle said...

I am so sorry you are having such a nightmare. The HUD counselor is probably the way to go. Any type of free counseling or legal aid can hopefully help. I'm sure you know the website for Making Homes Affordable, but just in case :)

I'm also sure you're doing this, but documentation is important and, if possible, mailing everything by certified mail. That way, if you need to get a lawyer, he has more to work with.

I wish I could help more :)

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