We signed with the legendary bank and its massive mortgage sector three and a half years ago when we bought our house. A mortgage broker (remember them?) suggested it. I can’t remember all the reasons, now. They seemed fine…even though their names kept popping up on placards at the recent Occupy protests across the nation.
Sure, they had a habit of applying late fees when they’d send out an upcoming month’s bill extra early. And recently, they started sending notes about foreclosure, even though I kept checking my bank statements to ensure that, as I’d thought, they were still cashing out monthly checks.
I kept shutting me eyes, seeing their wagon train logo in my head. Kept assuring myself that I was dealing with an American tradition, a company (and not just some corporation) that had once kept the mails running for several decades. A legend.
But then a few weeks ago they called Ulster Publishing, telling whoever answered the phone that they needed to speak to me about the scary “F” word. I realized something has gone wickedly wrong with my big bank.
When my wife got someone at the 800 number they’d passed on for us to call, she was told that the mighty Wells Fargo was missing a payment from October. We must have forgotten to send a check, a woman named Roseanna told her. Fawn said it was a simple mistake but we better rectify it fast because Roseanna had told her the bank had already initiated foreclosure proceedings and alerted credit agencies about our oversight…a few weeks after the crime they had perceived. We could stall the proceedings, we were told, if we could send them a replacement check right away. But the credit snafu would be another matter.
I told my wife something seemed amiss. Then I checked our bank records, which noted that checks had been cashed by the mortgage company for each of the past four months. I called Wells Fargo back and this time spoke to someone named Anna Medina, who kept putting me on hold as I related all my findings, including the fact that they had cashed my check and I had proof.
Anna said that yes, Wells Fargo had cashed my check…but not applied it to our mortgage account. Why, I asked her, would they do that, then ask for a whole new payment? Ms. Medina said she’d have to check.
After another long pause she got back to me with an answer. My handwriting was bad, she said. Although I wrote the proper amount needed to be paid in the numerical part of the check, my spelled out part of the piece of paper had been interpreted as missing a “one” in front of a “hundred.” So they didn’t apply it to the check because, Anna Medina said, Wells Fargo believed it was $100 less than what we should have paid.
“But why didn’t you tell us about this misunderstanding,” I asked the bank representative, voice rising.
“Because it is not Wells Fargo’s responsibility to do so,” she replied.
“But why wasn’t my wife told we were only $100 short when she called an hour ago, instead of being asked for a whole new check? That money was in your system,” I nearly shouted back.
“These matters are your responsibilities,” came Ms. Medina’s next statement. “We can apply $100 to your account and bring it up to date if you want.”
I offered up a check or credit card but was told that I would have to pay faster to avoid irreversible harm to my credit rating. So I arranged an immediate bank transfer.
Anna told me she would waive the bank transfer fee, given the misunderstanding.
But what about the credit rating, I asked. She gave me a fax number and said I’d have to send in a letter. She gave me a confirmation number for my $100 payment and I quickly sent off my note.
I called two days later to try and find out whether the bad credit notification had been reversed, and to inquire whether, by any chance, we’d be getting an apology from Wells Fargo.
Neither Anna Medina or Roseanna could be found wherever my call came in.
“You’ll have to pay for a credit check to find out the answer to that question,” I was told by Deborah. “But you can trust Wells Fargo will be doing the right thing.”
Right-o, I answered, before slamming down the phone.
By month’s end we’re hoping to have our mortgage at a local bank, now, where we know the tellers and all the mortgage reps. A place we can walk down to and look at the books ourselves. A place we can really trust, and feel trusted by.++