When did platinum’s value plummet?
September 2, 2008 | Banks,Customer service,Ethics
My old bank sent a check to my new bank so we could close on our new house. When explaining things, the loan officer said:
I didn’t charge you the $3 fee to send the check because you’re a platinum member.
Let me explain the irony of that statement.
In June, we faced owning two houses at the same time. I called my bank, where I’ve had my money for 14 years, ever since it was a credit union (until it decided to become a bank in the last year or so).
It has the original mortgage on our house. I needed a loan to get us through the overlap of buying one house and selling another. After convincing Loan Officer #1 (not on the first try, mind you) that we were good for it even in this hideous housing market, she started the paperwork. We swapped faxes and phone calls. Things seemed to be moving along. Then, the day before she left on vacation, she faxed some forms she wanted me to sign, acknowledging that my house was in a flood zone.
My house is not in a flood zone now. It wasn’t in a flood zone in 2002 when we got the original mortgage through the credit union, but #1 needed “proof.” So, in other words, she didn’t have “proof” in my files for the original mortgage? Nope.
Well, that’s her problem, not mine, right? Not if I want this loan.
So I called my insurance company, which quoted me $3,500/year for Zone A flood insurance. Paid in full. Up front. Before closing.
Then I spent the next several hours calling neighbors and walking door to door in the pouring rain, gathering documentation. Before the end of business that day, I faxed to Loan Officer #2 (who was to take over while #1 was on vacation) the documents (including a FEMA Letter of Map Revision) that showed the neighborhood was NOT in a flood zone. I provided the name and telephone number of the flood-certification company that was listed on a neighbor’s property.
When I talked to #2 the next day, she was reluctant to call the company, so I called. Someone there pulled the certification that said my property was not in a flood zone. But she couldn’t send me a copy. She could only send it to the requesting lender.
“Who ordered the certification?” I asked.
“Sunshine State Credit Union,” she said. “In 2002.”
I called #2, gave her the telephone number again, this time with a person’s name and extension number, as well as the certification number on my property, fully expecting her to call and clear up everything. Well, no. She would call the bank’s current flood-certification company and have an answer for me in 24 to 48 hours.
That time came and went. In the meantime, I called around to find the documentation needed: the property-management company for our homeowners association, the company that did the survey on my property and the county administrator’s office, who would contact FEMA for me — in other words, I was doing #2’s job. And she refused to acknowledge any of the information I sent her.
And she still refused to call the original flood-certification company.
After hearing that the current flood-certification company believed my house was in a flood zone and things like, “FEMA says the document does not exist,” I realized she would never pull her head out and do her job. I called the executive vice president of the bank, someone I had worked with in the past, and chewed his ear for a while. He later gathered his little troops together (#2 and the underwriter), and they called me on the speakerphone. They apologized. And, oh, they would work SO hard and do everything possible to get this whole thing resolved.
Less than 24 hours later, I got an e-mail from the underwriter, saying, “At this point we have exhausted all avenues to resolve this issue.” He listed all the places he called, trying to get information. Was the original flood-certification company on that list? Of course not.
So I called it again. I said, look, I realize you can’t send me a copy of the certification, but since my bank is unwilling to request a copy, I need more information. She pulled up my certification. I asked if she had a copy of the FEMA LOMR letter my neighbors had. She did, but she could not find a document that specifically mentioned my address. She filed a request for me and put a rush on it.
Within HOURS, someone from the company called me. He went through the hard-copy archives and found the FEMA LOMR letter written for my property in 1994. The document my bank said that FEMA said did not exist.
“It’s a public record,” he said. “Do you want a copy?”
I sent it to the executive VP.
So, yeah. My bank was perfectly willing to make this “platinum member” pay $3,500 for flood insurance I did not need. But that fee to send the check? Well, they wouldn’t make me pay that. So what’s that “platinum” membership worth?
Oh, about three bucks.
Dear Sunshine Savings Bank,
As a credit union, you were O-U-T-S-T-A-N-D-I-N-G. That’s why I was with you for so long.
As a bank? You suck.
And, oh yeah. I’ll be calling you soon to request the title on my car so I can get license plates here. I’m sure as a “platinum member,” I won’t be trusted to put my hands on it and take it to the courthouse because, you know, we platinum members are a shifty bunch. But, hey, at least you won’t charge me for the stamp to send it to the courthouse. Right?
Update 9/4: Wow. I’m not even allowed to request that my title be sent. Oh, no. The county office had to write a letter to my bank, explaining that I moved (please stop pretending as if you don’t already know that) and that I would need to register my car in a new state. Hmph.
You still suck.