Considering the last tongue lashing I had given the lender via my letter, one would be inclined to think that they would have scrambled to ensure that they corrected all the mistakes and subsequent overcharges due to their “error.” Granted, I only had to wait 4 days for a response this time. No doubt, the threat of outside contacts had stirred their response, but was it enough? Would they correct the entire account situation or just kick out another series of incorrect billing statements?
After explaining all the additional actions they had taken, they stated, “In reviewing your account, it is apparent that our representatives mishandled your initial concerns.” You think? And I knew they had too many hands in the pot! They went on to elaborate on their training of their “team members” and how critical it is to their bottom line of providing “the level” of service they strive to achieve. Blah, blah, blah.
The kicker was the explanation about their two operating systems, which they claim are to originate loans, and handle loan servicing respectively. They claimed that their normal process is that a systematic transfer of the address from their origination system is made to the loan servicing system any time they made a new disbursement. They utilize the hard copy Promissory Note originally filed, and apparently, do not update their systems per additional subsequent electronic filings for loans. As they went on to state, they discovered that their loan servicing system was more current in its address information than the originating system, which held the original Promissory Note information.
This more current information in the loan servicing system makes sense, because this was indicated as the system that services new additional loans. One would naturally presume that if this system receives more current information as students apply for more disbursements, then this system should be the first one examined for updated contact information. They stated that they do not receive a new hard copy of the Promissory Note on any new disbursement agreements that are done electronically, and that many times, the information that they are receiving from the schools contain outdated demographic information. Of course, they recognized that this was not the case in my situation.
But, how much sense does that make? They told me that they are utilizing both electronic notes and the original hard copy paper Promissory Note; and that subsequent to the original hard copy, any additional loans are done electronically. Yet somehow, they neglected to update their files with the new incoming contact information on the newer loan requests simply because they are done electronically? This, in the “electronic” age? Are they serious?
Then they stated that as a result of this opposite situation in my case; this “systematic file transfer process” was canceled. How much sense does this make? Then they say that because of this, when the loans “transferred” the new address did not transfer with them. Did it sound like it would transfer in the regular procedure? My situation was allegedly the opposite of what “normally” happens, but I can’t see the “normal” setup working either. The bottom line is that the current contact information is not transferred under either of these scenarios.
After this asinine explanation of how their systems misfire and basically don’t work properly in conjunction with one another; they proceeded to tell me that this resulted in mail that was being generated from the servicing system being returned to their office. The next two statements put it all into perspective for me.
“Once your loan became “past due,” we were required to perform due diligence in order to try to obtain an updated address for you. We recognize now that we overlooked our origination system in trying to locate you.”
This was a joke. I thought I was being “punked.” They stated that despite all the returned mail that was sent out from the “servicing system,” they “waited” until the loan went into “past due status” before they did the “required due diligence” in an attempt to obtain an updated address on the borrower. Ain’t that somethin’! Additionally, they stated that they recognized that they “overlooked” their origination system in trying to locate me. They still hadn’t got it. The problem was not in their bypassing the origination system to find me.
They already stated that they actually do refer to that system primarily because they claimed that newer information delivered electronically in subsequent loan requests from the schools, contained outdated demographic information. Clearly they had already stated that the address information in the origination systems are outdated, because that system only holds the information from the original Promissory Note, and does not contain any information in the newer electronically filed Promissory Notes. Those electronic Promissory Notes are recorded in the servicing system, which they made clear is disregarded for updated demographic information, despite the information in that system being more current. So basically, everything is outdated, yet just as clearly, they said that they refer to that outdated information.
Then they said, “We understand the confusion this information may have caused you.”
Really? How could they understand my confusion, when apparently, they couldn’t understand their own?
“We hope this additional information and the additional steps we have taken have helped to alleviate your concerns.”
Not really. If anything, I was having more “concerns.” They went on to state:
“Please be assured that your situation is “unique.” Generally, what would have occurred was a demographic update from you that would have updated our servicing system. Because the update came from your school, in the form of the electronic file to our origination system, it required a manual review. Because this is an uncommon scenario, “we are confident our existing process sufficiently covers the majority of our customers.”
Seriously? They are “confident” of this? Wow. So it was only because the update came from my school; the institution that the loan requests are made through, that this whole mess occurred? I would think that any update from any school would require a manual review to ensure that the correct, updated information was recorded into the correct system to avoid calamities such as this one.
Was it over? Not by a long shot. Within the next month, I received 3 more statements, all with different amounts due. The first was lower, but subsequent statements were higher, and in one they attempted to charge a late fee because it takes them 10 days to process my payment upon receipt. You know I was not going to let that stand. Again I let my fingers fly free as I let loose on them in yet another letter detailing my frustration. I told them that the appearance of correcting the problem while conducting back-door manipulations to charge me more were unacceptable.
I requested that one person be assigned to my account, and that they supply me with that person’s name, and a direct contact line so that I don’t have to continually see these issues cropping up. This accommodation was never addressed. They insisted that I needed to understand their problems in properly training their personnel. However, I informed them that this was not my problem because, were the situation reversed, and I didn’t get a payment to them on time; they would not be willing to accept any excuses or reasons why from me. They’d simply penalize me in fees and interest, saying in essence, “It’s not my problem.” The last few comments, I think, was what motivated the final complete correction of the overcharges on my account. After telling them they were incompetent and inept, I went for the jugular.
“From this point on, I will be contacting various entities within the federal government, and filing my complaints with them. I will be giving them the entire history of your mishandling of my account, which I still believe is with intent; as well as letting them know that I don’t feel that your organization should be entitled to get government contracts for financing student loans, because it is more than obvious that you cannot handle the responsibility within the scope of lawful business practices nor any integrity.
I can only imagine the millions of people you have ripped off…overcharging them due to this level of incompetence. This is just not acceptable on any level, and I will make sure that this is made public, much in the same way you would publicly report any negative info on my credit record.”
The last thing I stated in that letter, was a request for an amortization schedule on my account from the date of the first payment, until the loan was due to be paid in full. I wanted to make sure they were charging me the correct interest. Bear in mind that from the time of my first correspondence with them, three months had passed of this foolishness. Their next letter was to inform me that they had reapplied a payment and waived the late fees to make all loans due the following month.
Additionally, they included in this letter, an “Automatic Payment Plan Authorization Form.” Were they for real? After they bungled up my account like this, they actually thought that I’d allow them to put their hands into my bank account and automatically withdraw whatever they chose? Clearly, the lights were on but no one is home in that institution. What gall. They did send the amortization schedule, but the very next month, another two statements arrived and one came with a higher payment requirement. The letter that went out was three sentences.
“I am not sending any additional funds other than the current payment amount. Correct your own error, but it better not get charged to me in any way. Don’t say you weren’t forewarned.”
That, and the printout of my account history that they subsequently sent me, ended the entire drama. So, if you are a student, or know of one, have them read this article. You do have options. My situation could not possibly be an isolated one, but appears to be one that happens frequently due to the system processes that they so inadequately explained to justify their mess. The difference is that most people probably don’t catch it, or if they do, they don’t attack it with the voracity that I did. However, I’m of the belief that if more people were informed that financial institutions were operating like this; perhaps it would be stopped, or at the least, better regulated to ensure that millions are not being financially raped in this manner for years by these lenders. Be mindful.