Earlier this week we drove 350 miles in one day to close on a new mortgage with Countrywide Financial and they didn’t have the paperwork ready.
This was after Gretchen, my highly organized wife, had repeatedly called our contact at Countrywide Financial to make sure that all was in order so we would be able to execute the closing without any problems.
She had been assured that "everything had been handled" even though our contact couldn’t give us the loan amount, the interest rate, or the monthly payments.This particular contact, let’s call her Ms. Glib, never seemed to have both oars in the water so we were quite apprehensive about this closing.
The whole loan episode was like an extended Ditech commercial, because Ms. Glib changed her story every time we asked her about something. She had a compulsion to make reassuring statements which were unsupported by facts. When we would catch her in another inconsistency she would say, "I’ll call you back in an hour!"
She never did, and this behavior never changed all through the months we dealt with her. We tried to change contacts but she was the only one who handled this particular type of home loan.
You may well ask why we bothered to stay with Countrywide at all if our only contact was an unreliable airhead. We asked ourselves the same question more than once, but we had excellent service from this same Countrywide office less than four years ago and they had organized a construction loan for us last year with only minor glitches.
The saving grace in all of this mess was another woman in Ms. Glib’s office. Barbara was a conscientious and sensible person who went the extra distance repeatedly to make sure we got the information we needed. We wanted to deal with Barbara, but Ms. Glib would have none of it. She was in charge, by golly, and was going to run the show right into the ground without anyone else’s help.
When we realized we were in deep gumbo, we tried to contact Steve, our old loan officer at Countrywide, but he had been promoted and was busy on other matters. Efforts to reach him were futile.
We were not all sweetness and light when we arrived at the title office for our closing and found that our paperwork was being held up because of questions that should have been resolved weeks earlier.
I got on the phone and ended up talking with a girl named Judy who managed to clear away the obstacles. She was a breath of sanity in an otherwise insane situation. She promised to get us our paperwork in a few hours.
We needed time to decompress, so I took Gretchen to lunch at Rhett’s River Grill and Raw Bar which is a great place to collect your thoughts. After a leisurely lunch, we went shopping at Sam’s Club and Whole Foods. By the time we filled the back end of the Subaru with provisions, the mortgage loan paperwork was ready and the closing took place without further incident.
The takeaway from this is that no matter what company you are dealing with, you have to stay alert to situations where your contact is not of sound mind. When you repeatedly get non-sequiter answers to important questions or your contact fails to follow through on promises, GET YOURSELF ANOTHER CONTACT TO DEAL WITH!
If you are reasonable, as we were, you will end up at the receiving end of a bad situation you helped create. We knew months ago that Ms. Glib was unreliable, but figured we could keep her straight if we just worked with her closely enough. We were wrong and it finally came back to bite us. Fortunately, there were enough good people at Countrywide to help us out when we needed it.
If we had raised the issue of bad customer service earlier in the game, we might have gotten better service or we might have had to go to a different mortgage company. Either way, we would have been more in charge of our destiny.
Hoping that things will "work out somehow" is the riskiest thing you can do. You will kick yourself later.
How many of you have run into someone like Ms. Glib?