11 January 2008

Bank of America + Countrywide? Eeeewww!!

Bank of America is set to acquire Countrywide.

I have a credit card with BofA which I am doggedly paying off. Once that's done I shall never use it again. I warn everyone away from the place. They are the absolute worst chiselers, always just on this side of the law. Let's just say you'd have to compartmentalize well to work at BofA, or go through some pretty elaborate rationalizations ... because if you do business with them, you're supporting an organization which is really out to get people. I don't like their attitude. It's the kind of bullying that gets shrugged off with "We're acting within the law."

Countrywide ... unfortunately, my home loan is with them. They have a fascinating little trick associated with the "pick your own payment date" deal. I won't detail it here. It's legal, I suppose, but if I were foolish enough to use them again for credit I'd pay more than I have to for interest - and I'd never know why. I found out by accident by taking the time to ask some open-ended questions of one of those kids who call trying to sell you a line of credit. If you have that option, chat up one of those kids and see if you can get them to tell you your internal account status. Not what's reported to the credit bureaus, but what they see on their screens.

Separately, they had a scary computer issue right after I got my loan. I spent HOURS on the phone with reps - one of whom actually burst into tears because she'd had so many people call HER in tears. Those of us who had that twice-a-month payment option - which Countrywide apparently dreamed up without involving their programmers - were getting threatening letters from Countrywide because our loan payments were going into a black hole in their computer system. So far as Countrywide knew, no payment had been received - yet my account showed it had been withdrawn. The suspense was, would we get it straightened out this month BEFORE the report went to the credit bureaus? That was not fun.

I just hope BofA has done some serious due diligence. I'm afraid they'll find some horrible messes buried in the computer systems at Countrywide ... the kind that class actions are made of.

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