Friday, September 30, 2011

Bank of America is bad, mmmkay?

I heard on the radio today that BofA is going to start charging their account holders $5 a month for the privilege of using their debit card. Whether you use it daily, or once a month, you'll see a $5 fee on your monthly bank statement for the pleasure of accessing your own money.

Fortunately, we do not bank with BofA. There are many reasons, not the least of which came from a co-worker of mine shortly after we had moved to Albuquerque. She had gone over the easy mountains, and her debit card hadn't worked. It was a weekend, so Monday morning she called BofA to find out why. They told her they would research it and let her know. A week or so later, she received a letter telling her that since she was attempting to use her card in MEXICO all weekend, without informing them, they declined the charges. She was solidly still in NEW Mexico, not even close to the border. When she called them on the phone and told them the name of the town in NM, they started to stick to the reasons in the letter. Eventually she got it through to them that New Mexico is in the USA and they offered a weak apology. I won't bank with a company who doesn't know the names of all fifty states. I have other reasons too, but don't feel like sharing 25 paragraphs.

But shortly after purchasing our house in NM, our mortgage got sold. This happens a lot, and you have no say in where the mortgage goes. Unfortunately, ours went to BofA. We were disappointed, but there was no recourse short of re-fi, and obviously that wasn't an option on a brand new loan. It didn't really bother us too much until we were working through the short sale process. I couldn't count how many rude people I talked to there, how many threatening letters we received (despite their knowledge and approval of our short sale,) and how many times they made me feel like a low-life criminal because we were upside down on our house. They even made harassing collections calls to my parents, while we were fully entrenched in the short sale process WITH them!

When the house closed in late March, we were thrilled to be done with Bank of America. Interesting enough, they actually send you a little check when you close; it's to thank you for doing short sale instead of sticking them for a foreclosure. We knew (thought) our closing was 100% complete when we got the check from them.
But we were wrong. A couple weeks ago, I pulled my credit. The first, most prominent record on there was our OPEN mortgage, showing that we hadn't made a mortgage payment for over a year. No wonder my credit score was hurting. At first I thought I would fight through the credit bureaus to have it fixed. But then I thought of BofA and their shady business practices, and realized that maybe they still thought we owed them money or something. I called them up, and not surpringly, was connected to their collections department as soon as I entered my social.

I informed the representative of the situation; we closed in March, it was still on our credit, etc. She snippily informed me that they were still awaiting paperwork from us before they could close our file. I tried to stay calm. "How can that be? The house closed in MARCH. Someone else LIVES in it. We couldn't go back to that house if we wanted to! Someone else has a mortgage on it. Someone else OWNS it!" She backtracked after my quiet outburst. "Well, you'll need to be patient. It can take 90 days to close out the file." I was incredulous at this point. I exclaimed, "We closed in March. It's been more than 90 days!" She placed me on hold. After a long wait, she got back on the phone. Her demeanor had totally changed. She would have to send it to the higher ups, she explained, and have them close it out. It would take 15 days or so, and then we would get a letter stating that we were resolved of the house debt. I asked her if she showed we still owed anything, and she said no, principle and interest both showed zero owed. She stopped short of apologizing, but with a gentler tone explained that somehow it just got overlooked when it came to closing the file. I asked if it would report to the credit bureaus that the house closed in March, and she haltingly said it would. I don't believe that, and I think I'll still end up fighting the credit bureaus. But hopefully at least now, six months after the house closed, we can finally move on. I thought we already had.

I guess they were too busy trying to figure out ways to rook their customers out of more money by imposing ridiculous new fees to be concerned with wrapping up what was a miserable experience for all of us.

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