'Banking bad': Angry mortgage customers act, sing and post their grievances
When they hit a brick wall with customer service, more disgruntled lending customers are turning to social media to complain. Banks have noticed, and many now have teams that monitor and respond. But is publicly airing your complaints effective?
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Watch out, lenders. When today's borrowers get fed up with their mortgage lender's customer service, they don't just write a letter to the CEO or file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. They make a movie.
His short film, "Bank of America Wants You to Die," shows the lender appearing to stall his attempt at a loan modification by insisting in two letters over a two-month period that he send in a copy of his own death certificate, along with his pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns, and documentation of child-support payments that he supposedly had asked to be included. Dunn has no children.
After he complains to his loan manager about the letters, he is told in an email that the bank lost these documents and asks him to email them back in as proof that those strange requests actually were made, according to documents shared with MSN Real Estate.
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After months of back and forth with the bank and a formal complaint, he filmed the slick, seven-minute film with his actor friends playing a clueless customer-service representative and a Dracula-type mortuary worker. The video now has more than 27,000 views on YouTube, which prompted him to shoot a second episode with an interview detailing more loan-modification abuses.
"When I was going through this, it was very painful," Dunn says. "I was ignored. I didn't want this to happen to anyone else."
Airing complaints on social media
Films, music videos, Twitter handles such as "GoldmanSachs666" and derogatory Facebook fan pages are just some of the ways a growing number of customers are speaking out about lenders, who they think aren't listening to their complaints.
"It's the most powerful way to get something done," says Mark Schwanhausser, a financial-industry technology analyst for Javelin Strategy & Research. "It's not only a soapbox, it's one with a megaphone or an amplifier."
Schwanhausser says consumers get to this point when they feel angry and confused about whom they should turn to for help. Should they go to a consumer group, hire a lawyer or what?
"It's when the normal process breaks down," Schwanhausser says, "and you say, 'What can I do?'" Years ago, he says, you would have had to protest outside a bank branch or call a local news station to get a similar response. "Social media creates an opportunity for everyone to be their own Michael Moore."
Many banks are keeping an eye on social media’s impact on their image. Rants of this type could give a black eye to the brand, if there are enough of them or if any one of them gets enough hits, Schwanhausser says. And that could start to chip away at business.
Many of the nation's largest banks have set up social media SWAT teams to respond to vitriolic tweets and YouTube complaints, in addition to the occasional compliment and more mundane questions such as, "Where's my closest ATM?"
Bank of America, for instance, has been monitoring Twitter since 2009 through its BofA_Help handle and has created a "Get Help" application so customers can ask questions privately and get complaints resolved.
"Most of the effort with social media is branding or making yourself a trusted brand," says Schwanhausser, who has studied banks' social media habits and published a report on the topic last year.
But just because large lenders are responding to customers on social media, that doesn't mean they are resolving the bulk of these customer complaints, Schwanhausser says. In many instances, they are just putting the burden on the customer to contact a local branch, and giving the illusion of a positive interaction with a response on Twitter such as "Glad we could help."
"They don't want a stink bomb out there," Schwanhausser says. "Very seldom will it be that the consumer gets the last word" on Twitter or Facebook, he says. "They recognize that this is public record and they are putting the best polish on it that they can."
Banks have been slower than some other industries to embrace social media, analysts say, in part because of the sensitive financial nature of their business and regulations that surround it.
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However, they now have to figure out this space because younger generations see social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as the primary place to voice complaints, says Adele Sage, a digital customer experience analyst with Forrester Research.
"You think about those generations," she says. "That's the first place they go for anything."
Generation Y and Z rely mainly on Twitter, websites and online forums to register their complaints rather than private feedback, she noted in a report last month.
Schwanhausser says older borrowers, especially users of mobile banking technology, are also getting comfortable taking their questions and concerns to social media.
there goes our tax dollars working for us, bank of america. the most screwed up bank in america.
look at what they are doing to the appraisers, charging the owner, $XXX and then, sending the request to a AMC (appraisal management company) and then they cut the appraisers fee and only look for the cheapest and fastest person to complete then appraisal. all, thanks to the HVCC which then now is the dodd frank. what happen to full disclosures, why is it we cant not send invoices, why? so they can not disclose what is really going on in the business.
if only people knew this and the national news or 60 mins or someone looked into it. its a shame that too big to fail, has all the power, still.
the appraiser is the person getting paid the least amount, but is needed for the appraisal on the sale or refi. we should do what they did in CA at the docs. it would kill the housing market, stop doing appraisals until the appraisers start getting paid what is customary & reasonable, for the scope of the appraisal and required turn time.
More succinctly, a bank can do anything it wants to homeowners and there's nothing the homeowner can do to prevent the lender from seizing their home, regardless of whether the payments are current, or if the homeowner even has a mortgage.
I have firsthand experience with manufactured foreclosures. Happened to me in '99, lender I'd never heard of claimed I'd "Missed 5 payments" and threatened foreclosure and wouldn't back off even after I sent them copies of my payments numerous times. When I threatened to sue, the bank manager said, "Don't do that, it'll just cost you more money". I sued, went to court, judge never gave me a chance to present my overwhelming proof, and ruled "As far as I'm concerned, it's your own damned fault" and slapped ME with a judgement for $80k. I retired homeless. Ask any lawyer and they'll tell you it happens all the time. Don't believe it? See MSFraud.org.
We had our motgage thru BoA because the mortgage company we originally had sold out. It so happens we have a checking and saving with them, and the cash flow per year was greater than the mortgage.
So the one time the bank started screwing around with us, I called the 800 number as y'all did and got nowhere.
I went to the bank and got an officer. I just told him that if this is not straightened out ibythe end of the week I will move all my accounts to XX bank and use your name as loosing the account.
Matter was satisfactory ended the next day.
It seems the employee is gigged when a customer closes accounts....
BoA bought Merrill Lynch during the gov't bail out.
They sent a letter saying they were going to charge me $30 a year for my mutual funds. I called the 800 number and said l"oose the hidden fees or close the account and send me a check for what I have invested." The schmuck on the phone did not have the authotrity, so..His manager said there will be no more charges... I wonder how many sheeple paid it.
FIFTH THIRD BANK IS TERRIBLE. DO NOT use them. We tried every way humanly possible to stay in our home. . .now our home is in contract with a short sale & customer service calls us repeatedly to threaten us about foreclosure (we totally understand the short sale keeps us from foreclosure). They argue with us, we believe because they're insane. They send letters requiring our death certificates along with pay stubs, etc., for a loan modification (which we were denied several months ago). You cannot reason with these people in ANY way. From the looks of the comments here. . .many banks practice the same standards (none). I wish I had a solution but unfortunately for folks in my boat, we suffer. Looking forward to renting. . .maybe.
I'm always amazed at people who say letting the banks go under would have been the right thing to do. They really aren't thinking this through. It might may them feel better, but it's money out of the taxpayers' pockets.
When a bank goes under, the depositors' money goes with it. Granted, the money is federally insured. But then that's taxpayer money spent to cover those deposits. That money never comes back to the the government, so it will have to be replaced with more taxes. By loaning money to the banks, those deposits don't have to be paid for with tax money. And the loans get repaid back to the government. Therefore, the taxpayer isn't out anything.
If BofA is so bad, why do people keep opening accounts with them. I understand that mortgages are bought and sold and BofA could be your mortgage load holder through no fault of your own.
Part of the issue is also the central backing system. This monopoly needs to be broken up.