Good Friday to each of you. We’re going to do something a little different today. We’re going to pass around a sign-in sheet. Please just print your name and pass the sheet to your neighbor.
Confession time. I know how you feel about her, but Kirsten Dunst never looked better than she did on the cover of the October 13, 2006 Entertainment Weekly. Why do I bring this up? Because a girl in our office keeps a stash of magazines stacked on her desk, and the October 13, 2006 EW was on top of the stack for about a week. Every time that I passed her desk, I would catch myself staring at Kirsten Dunst on the cover. I know y’all hate her and think that she’s a dogface, but to me, she’s versatile enough to be pretty one moment and ugly the next. It’s a skill, really. Others in that category:
1. Teri Hatcher (Lois Lane was on my list. Susan is not.)
4. Lindsay Lohan
5. Clare Danes
6. Jennifer Garner
7. Jessica Alba
8. Jessica Beil
9. Cameron Diaz
10. Jessica Simpson (although, she spends a lot of time in the manufactured ugly column)
Alas, after a week, I put the EW in the middle of the stack of magazines so that I’d stop staring at it. On to other news.
A few of you may know about my hatred for Just for Feet. The day that company folded was a banner day for me. Were I an Auburn fan, I would have rolled Toomer’s Corner. I never thought that I could hate a company more than I hated JFF.
And then we made a mistake in our January mortgage payment to Countrywide.
A little background. When we bought our house in July of 2005, we took out an 80% primary mortgage, and then the 10% mortgage to avoid PMI. Both mortgages were with U.S. Bank. Since the interest rate on the 10% mortgage was higher than the interest rate on the primary mortgage, we add a little bit extra every month in order to pay the 10% loan off faster. Everybody with me?
In August or September of last year, U.S. Bank sold or transferred the 10% mortgage to Countrywide. Alas, we continued to make the standard principle and interest payment, plus the additional principle payment, to Countrywide.
Well, things seemed odd with the January payment. We weren’t sure exactly what happened. We noticed that the check to Countrywide only cleared the bank for the amount that we usually make for the extra payment. We were awaiting the bank statement and or February payment coupon from Countrywide to figure out what went wrong – thinking that the bank made an error, or Countrywide made some type of input mistake. Well, it turns out that when we made the January payment, we only made the check out for the extra amount that we send in each month, which does not equal the regular payment amount. In other words, we sent in our additional principle payment and not the standard principle and interest payment.
Leah and I both have credit scores at or near 800. We’re never late on any payment. This is the first time that I can remember us not paying a bill BEFORE it was due, or at least within the grace period.
Well, the Countrywide A$$H0LES went, and continue to go, absolutely APE$HIT!
They started by calling me at work. On January 30th, some Indian (dot, not feather) girl effectively said that we sucked and that we were in default and that we owed the payment plus penalty plus – that’s when I finally out yelled her and got her to be quiet for a minute.
Sidenote: There’s nothing in your loan agreement that says that you have to be nice to these people. My advice, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, treat them like the little bitc#es that they are.
Back on topic, while the little engine that could kept chugging along, I scurried to our bank’s website and pulled up a copy of the check. Out yelling her to get her to shut-up once again, I tried to explain what happened. Alas, she was just reading from a script that an even bigger a$$hole wrote, and she can’t deviate from it or think independently. She’s paid to make a call, not to think. I ended up hanging up on her.
I went to Countrywide’s website and logged in. I was greeted with a similar –“Your a$$ is in default” message. I clicked on the payment button and clicked ‘Promise to pay’. I sent a nice little email stating that we made a mistake in our payment, promising to send January’s payment, plus February’s payment, plus the $9 penalty, plus February’s additional principle payment first thing in the morning. I apologized for the mistake and for hanging up on the little engine that could.
First thing in the morning of January 31st, a check for the promised amount was placed in the downtown post office. If you absolutely, positively have to have it there overnight, mail it from the downtown post office. It’s really incredible the speed at which they can move a piece of mail.
For the next few days I kept checking the account on Countrywide’s website. I was a little miffed at the return message that I received, which essentially told me that I sucked and that if I was going to continue to be a deadbeat that I should let them know. We’ll ignore the fact that I fulfilled my promise before they responded to my message.
On Monday February 5th, the payment was applied to our account. I thought that this was behind us and we were done with this little charade. We made a mistake, they called us on it, we made up for it and our account was current again.
On Monday February 12, 2007, we received in the mail two identical letters – one sent regular mail and one sent certified, return receipt requested. In the letter, dated Friday February 2, Countrywide set out to tell us that we were in default and that they had the right to enter and inspect the premises, the right to accelerate our loan and have the entire balance due and payable immediately, and the right to foreclose on the property in order to recover the default amount.
I contend that when the payment that we mailed to Countrywide on January 31st was posted to our account on Monday February 5th, both of these letters (dated Friday February 2) were still in the possession of Countrywide. The account was current when they sent the notice of default and acceleration. Remember, we received the letters on February 12th, and the letters were dated Friday February 2. Since when does it take 10 days to mail a letter anywhere?
I fully believe that the only reason that they released the letters was out of malice, and with the intent to cause emotional distress, outrage, anxiety, and to cause alarm and panic.
So, I came in to the office on Tuesday February 13 ready to curse whatever poor little engine that could was unlucky enough to answer my call. Somebody was going to cry and I was going to get the satisfaction equivalent of the $9.31 paid penalty from hearing somebody sob.
I waited with anxious breath until 8AM and I dialed the phone number provided in the letter within the stated business hours (8AM – 5PM Central time). An electronic voice answered and asked that I enter my account number. I broke the 1 button on my phone entering the account number. The voice then verified my account number and gave me the option to speak with someone. I broke the 5 button trying to connect to a live body. Imagine my frustration when I heard, “We are unable to take your call now. Please try your call again during our normal business hours, 9AM – 8PM Pacific time.”
On the up side, they just gave me three more hours to get more and more pi$$ed, if that was even possible. I was going to make money off of this call.
I called back at 11AM central time (9AM Pacific), entered my account number and pressed 5 to talk with some body. I swear to you, the electronic voice said, “We’re sorry, but we are unable to take your call right now. Please try your call again later.” My call was then disconnected.
Oh Son of a W#0re.
I made several more attempts to make someone cry over the next two hours, but each time I received the same, “We’re sorry, but we are unable to take your call right now. Please try your call again later” message. Did they know it was I calling because I had to enter my account number? Were they avoiding me specifically, or does everyone get that message? I was calling to curse some one, but is this the practice they employ to avoid people in real credit trouble so that they can then foreclose on their home? “They never called us to arrange alternative payments, so we foreclosed on them and took their house. They should have had more concern for their family.”
Nonetheless, I finally found a fax number and fired off a letter that was much nicer than my spoken word would have been. In it, I fully admitted that we made a mistake by not paying in full the January installment. The mistake cost us more that the $9 penalty, it also cost us the deductible interest portion of the January payment made in the 2006 tax year.
I made the argument that they knew, or should have known, at the time the certified letter was placed in the care, custody and control of the US Postal Service that our account was current and not in default, as the letter stated. I demanded to know when the letters were released to the US Postal Service and that they not make any adverse report to any of the credit rating agencies. I also sent an abbreviated message via their website.
In reply, they simply said that we paid a partial amount and that partial payments are not allowed. Again, I admitted to that. They refused or otherwise withheld response related to my actual question, which was, when did they mail the letters. You can’t accept payment to bring an account current and then turn around and threaten people with foreclosure.
It will probably be best if I never talk to any one at Countrywide.
Leah and I may be the only people to be six payments ahead and still go through foreclosure.
And I don't know who is in charge of global warming, but I wish they'd get off their a$$ and do something. I'm freezing my natchez off!
Wow, that’s all. Sorry for the $@#)% language.
Have a good weekend!