Washington Mutual Strikes Again…

January 20, 2006

Washington Mutual, whom I’ve mentioned a couple of time before, currently hold the mortgage on our home and, after hopping our checking account around for various reasons, is also home to our checking account. Since we have both accounts with them, they’re kind enough to give us a “Platinum” account for free provided we allow them to rob us blind auto-deduct our monthly payment – this service normally costs $12/month. When we bought our home, we didn’t have enough to put 20% down (uh…who actually does??) and we didn’t qualify for a second mortgage at that time so we had to get PMI. A complete and total crock but necessary at the time. After saving up for some time, we were able to pay down to 80% and get the PMI removed – simple enough procedure and something that I’m sure happens all the time. So here’s where it goes sideways, we also asked about having our monthly payment reduced – basically, they just re-evaluate your loan and the payment should drop. The kind lady told my wife that she’d be sending the paperwork along and we could just fill it out and send it back at our convenience. Great! The following week the paperwork arrives and we were disturbed to discover that there was a $200 fee involved in the recalculation. No way are we paying so they can “click a button” (I know that there MAY be a little more to it than this but it still can’t be all that complicated) and start charging us a lesser amount. So, in accordance with the documents, we decide not to fill them out so our account should remain the same, right? Wrong. The next payment stub arrives with the “new” amount so we immediately call and are told that it was a mistake and will be corrected. We proceeded to pay the original amount with the directions to apply the “extra” to principal since their system would see the difference as such. This routine proceeds for the next couple of months – get payment stub, call and be reassured that everything has been corrected in their system (for real THIS time), pay the usual amount, rinse, repeat.

After the third month of this insanity, Darlene gets a phone call from Washington Mutual’s collections department. They’ve locked our account and sent it to collections for “non-payment”. Whaa?? Well, it turns out that their cashiering department decided that they would “back out” (an accounting term I swear) all our payments for the past three months thus making us “late” for the past three months. So after being harangued by this awful lady, Darlene finally hung up on her and called back to speak with someone else. Basically, they had no idea why this was done and, get this, the cashiering department doesn’t take incoming calls so we can’t even speak to someone about it. We were assured once again that everything would be corrected within a week. No luck – the payments were re-applied incorrectly. So Darlene and I figured out exactly how and where each payment should have been applied and relayed this information to the customer service rep (slowly so as not to spook the skittish creature) only to be told that it would take ANOTHER week. After speaking with a manager, I was assured that the issue would be resolved with 2 business days and would be correct. To be safe, I got the manager’s direct line and contact information in case there was any problems in the future. *sigh*
Fast forward 2 weeks and about a dozen unreturned phone messages later, since the account “magically” righted itself well enough – they actually still didn’t have it quite right but it was close enough that it wasn’t worth the effort. Oh, and my “written formal request” (per RESPA, Section 6) for an explanation and assurances that it wouldn’t happen again – IGNORED!! Basically, I’ve decided that all loans moving forward will NOT be with Washington Mutual and as soon as we’re clear of this home loan, we’ll be moving all our other accounts as well.

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Tired of your bank too…

December 19, 2005

Having recently had to go round and round with our bank, Washington Mutual, I really could identify with this ladies frustration. Apparently, I’m not the only one…

96 YEAR OLD WOMAN’S LETTER TO HER BANK

Shown below, is an actual letter that was sent to a bank by a 96 year
old woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it
published in the New York Times.

Dear Sir:
I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored
to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must
have elapsed between his presenting the check and the arrival in my
account of the funds needed to honor it.
I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire
income, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight
years. You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of
opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for
the inconvenience caused to your bank.
My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has
caused me to rethink my errant financial ways. I noticed that whereas I
personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, when I try to
contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging,
pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become..
From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood
person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no
longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed
personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must
nominate
Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other
person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an
Application Contact Status which I require your chosen employee to
complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as
muc h about him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no
alternative.
Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be
countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her
financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be
accompanied by documented proof. In due course, I will issue your
employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me.
I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have
modeled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my
account balance on your phone bank service.
As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery Let me level
the playing field even further. When you call me, press the buttons as
follows:
1. To make an appointment to see me
2. To query a missing payment.
3. To transfer the call to my li ving room in case I am there.
4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
5. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to
nature.
6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.
7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my
computer is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later
date to the Authorized Contact.
8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7.
9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be
put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.
While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music
will pla y for the duration of the call.

Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an
establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement.

May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous New Year.

Your Humble Client

(By way of Sean McCormack)