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Don’t do as I do. Do as I say


Inevitably, I suppose, I had my wrist lightly slapped yesterday by an ex-colleague, who thought I was being unfair in excoriating the banks for their tendency to rely on minute and tedious attention to detail – but only as a one-way trade, of course.

In Florida, Tom Mudie pushed one wrong button and almost lost his house. The Tampa Tribune  reported that Mudie was put into a mortgage modification programme which lowered his monthly payments by $200. In order to stay in the program, Mudie had to make his payments on time.

But when Mudie tried to make a telephone payment, his payment was 80 cents short after he accidentally hit a “0” instead of an “8”.  That prompted the mighty Bank of America to send him a letter saying that the foreclosure process was back in motion.

Mudie had to fight hard, and doubtless grovel, before the bank relented and reinstated him on the programme. But this isn’t the first time BofA has let a technical error push a homeowner to the brink of foreclosure. Last June, WWLP reported on a Northampton, Massachusetts man whose home was put at risk because he had an overdue balance of $0.

“It says ‘you owe us zero dollars, zero cents’. I couldn’t help but laugh,” he said. What wasn’t quite so funny was that his credit score was downgraded and it was predictably hard to locate a human being to address what BofA grudgingly and belatedly shrugged off as a mere ‘electronic error’.

BofA has also charged a man interest on a $0 credit card balance and given $30,000 worth of Social Security payments to the wrong person. In June last year, BofA refused to let a bride deposit wedding cheques because she didn’t take her husband’s name.

The bank has, however, extracted some (much-needed) good press for its selfless forebearance in the mortgage crisis. When BofA found out that a woman had not been paying her mortgage because of mounting medical bills, it generously offered to defer eviction proceedings until after her death.

Now, you may be wondering why I’m singling out BofA.  Well, I’m afraid it’s personal. That ex-colleague worked at a very fine London firm that was acquired by Merrill Lynch – of unloving memory – whose nickname (the Thundering Herd) was ripe for malapropism. Like so many other investment banks, Merrill overreached itself and was put out of its misery in 2007 by Bank of America. Ka-boom tisssssssssh!


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