…and it just about ran my ass over.
The financial tools available to us today are just staggering. They keep getting better, and various banks are not shy about letting you know how wonderful they are at collecting your money while they own your house for 30 years or so. I purchased the RubinSmo Manor nine years ago at an interest rate that was pretty good at the time. Well, time and interest rates have a tendency to change, so I recently decided it’s a good time to refinance. As luck would have it, I had to call my bank for another matter. As we were concluding the call, the helpful customer service rep said they have better interest rates now. “We can lower your terms,” she said. “I can connect you with someone right now who can help,” she said. I agreed, and that’s when I started to learn that Wells Fargo has a funny definition of “help.” They also have funny definitions of “communication,” “customer service,” “file management,” and “truth.” Sit back and make some popcorn, my rabid readership of eight, and listen to the tale of why one should never, ever finance or refinance through Wells Fargo.
The nice customer support lady connected me with…oh, let’s call him Juan Pablo, located somewhere in Arizona. This becomes a little important later.
Juan Pablo helpfully filled out all manner of loan forms for me. Each time I’d answer a question, he’d reply happily, in his Latin accent, “Pehr-FECT.” Yes, Juan Pablo was my buddy. We spent 45 magical, pehr-FECT minutes on the phone, during which we chatted about interest rates, my excellent credit rating, rates I qualified for, and how we could close in 30 days. We really had a connection. He sent me a follow-up email, that started with “Hi Robin.”
Seriously, Juan Pablo? Did our magical 45 minutes together, during which you used and typed my name numerous times, mean nothing to you? To avoid looking like a rejected one-night stand, I included this sly paragraph in my response:
Please verify that my name is spelled correctly on any forms you filled out on my behalf yesterday. My first name is Rhonda, not Robin. It’s a common mistake, but I’m going to assume an incorrect name could cause issues with my new loan.
Within a week and a half, I’d compiled all the documents Juan Pablo requested — scanning hard copies where necessary — and sent them all to him. At this point, Juan Pablo turned my information over to someone else. Let’s call her Mrs. Wiggins, also located someplace in Arizona.
She called me to ask for documents I already sent to Juan Pablo. When I told her he had them, she asked that I send them to her as well. Weird, but OK. I was told to expect the loan paperwork in the mail. I had to sign where indicated and either mail the forms back, or scan and email the signed pages. I was also informed that “Texas is different.” I wouldn’t know how much cash I had to bring to closing until that day. I should be prepared for up to $1500, but I shouldn’t bring too much, because there’d be no way to make change, or something, because…um, Texas? It sounded shady, like Mrs. Wiggins had no idea what she was talking about, or both. Whatever. Closing costs. Fine.
Two weeks later, I’d heard nothing, so I contacted Mrs. Wiggins for a status update. She replied with,
Your documents are in Underwriting.
Seriously, Mrs. Wiggins? We’ve exchanged emails in which my name appears. You’ve handled documents containing my name. You’ve spoken with me on the phone, but you can’t be bothered to proof a message to get my name right? Christ on a cracker, woman, this is Customer Service 101. My reply:
Hi Mrs Wiggins,
I appreciate the update. Thanks.
That said, customer service is very important to me. I’ve had a few phone conversations with you and with Juan Pablo. In the course of arranging for my mortgage refinance, each of you has managed to get my name wrong in some sort of communication. This may seem like a small infraction to you, but you are working with me on a large transaction. I am trusting you with sensitive personal and financial information, and your failure to bother to learn my name or even proofread your email makes me wonder about your attention to detail with regard to my information. Please tell me why, if you can’t be troubled to even learn my name, I should continue doing business with you.
Juan Pablo contacted me and was very apologetic. He assured me that my business is important to them and Blah, blah, blah…can they schedule my appraisal and charge it to me? I had to think about it. I should have listened to my gut then and there, before outlaying money to pay for an appraisal. Unfortunately, I decided I might be overreacting to an unprofessional business correspondence addressing me by the wrong name. So I stuck with them. I am an idiot.
Mrs Wiggins arranged for an appraiser. The appraiser came to my home and took photos of everything. I arranged to work from home to accommodate his schedule. A while later, Juan Pablo called me to ask if my home had been appraised yet.
Juan Pablo, do you not talk to Mrs. Wiggins? If you had, you’d know she arranged the appraisal. I simply told him that the appraisal was done a week and a half ago. “Pehr-FECT.” One or two weeks later, I sent an email to Juan Pablo to ask if he’d received the appraisal report yet and, if not, was I the hold up. He said I was not the hold up. The following day I received a phone call from someone wanting to schedule an appraisal. “Um, no. I’ve already had my appraisal. Who are you with?” After 10 minutes with a patient woman on the other end of the phone who was willing to dig for information, I learned that Wells Fargo never received the appraisal, so they ordered a new one. Nice of them to tell me. Also, we were sliding toward the expiration date of my locked-in rate. Another email flew out. My emails were getting longer in direct proportion to my frustration with Wells Fargo and their fuckery.
Hi Juan Pablo,
I received a call from someone from “the appraisal company,” to schedule an appraisal of my home. I was confused and suspicious, because my home was appraised almost three weeks ago, and the woman today identified herself only as “with the appraisal company,” even after I asked for the name of her company. She said her company, which apparently has no actual name, sends out contracted appraisers. After we spoke a bit, I learned that the previous appraiser never sent the report to Wells Fargo, and the bank ordered a second appraisal. I have two concerns. One is of a customer service nature, and the other is of a financial nature.
First, I feel I should have been contacted by you, or someone else at Wells Fargo, with an update of this situation and told I should expect to be contacted about this second appraisal. I should not have to learn of this from an independent contractor, nor should that contractor have to tell me exactly why you ordered this second appraisal. I am your client. I should find out from you. It’s very unsettling, and borderline creepy, to learn that a contractor — arranged by someone else, in another state, with no familiarity with local contractors — came into my home, took photos of every inch of my home, and then disappeared with those photos. Now I not only have to trust another contractor selected by you, but I have to rush to accommodate his schedule (at the expense of mine), to ensure the refi proceeds and closes before my locked-in rate expires.
Also on the customer service front, I first followed up with you a week ago about the appraisal. You 1) didn’t realize it was done at all, much less nearly two weeks before, and 2) you didn’t immediately see a red flag that nearly two weeks had passed since that appraisal was performed, and there was still no report on your desk. I don’t know if you took any action at that time, but if you did, it seems there was no followup to it.
On the financial front, first and foremost, I won’t be paying for the second appraisal.
Next, if this delay causes closing to occur past the expiration date of my locked-in rate, I would like to have a phone call with you and your supervisor. In short, any resulting delay was not due either to action or inaction on my part, and I did my due diligence with you after the original appraisal was performed. The possibility of losing a locked-in rate under these circumstances is unacceptable.
I hope you understand my frustration at this point. This refi experience has been a comedy of errors from the beginning. I have never gone through a real estate transaction in which the bank representatives have appeared out of touch with their client and with the status of the loan in question. I am not a high-maintenance client, but I do expect professionalism, and I expect a certain level of customer service worthy of a large financial institution.
This all said, my second appraisal is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon or evening. Hopefully you will have the report shortly thereafter, and we won’t have to worry about expiring rates at all.
Appraiser #2 was so late that I not only didn’t have to arrange to be home that day, but I could have gone to the office, gone to the gym, and picked up dinner on the way home with time to spare before the guy showed up. This inconvenience was not the Wells Fargo’s fault, but it was just one more thing.
Juan Pablo forwarded my email to, oh…let’s call this one Evil-Lyn, because it amuses me.
She reached out to me to address the concerns I expressed in my email to Juan Pablo and appoint herself as my sole contact. I considered this to be progress, since I determined that all miscommunication was due to more than one person working my loan. Then she asked me for four documents I’d already provided. Twice.
I’ve already provided the requested information: the master policy, my own policy (which I assume is the “walls in” policy you mentioned), my employment history (as part of the original application), and a signed letter explaining last year’s short gap in employment history.
The insurance information was submitted with all the documents in early May. Upon follow-up on May 16, I learned my documents were all in Underwriting. In short, Underwriting should have this information. If they do not, or if there was an issue with documents provided nearly two months ago, why am I learning about it now? Or is the issue that this process has taken so long that both insurance policies were recently renewed and you now need fresh documents? There is no reason for either situation to have occurred. In the case of the employment information, specifically the letter, it’s been provided twice, once to Mrs. Wiggins over a month ago and once to Juan Pablo a week or so later. If there was an issue with the letter, or if it was not sufficient, why am I learning about it now?
It’s frustrating to learn, after being told the appraisal was the only step left before closing, that information I’ve already provided has not been addressed, has had time to expire, or both. This is not the first time during this process I’ve been asked for information that was already provided, which leads me to believe there are issues with internal communication and, quite possibly, file management at Wells Fargo. I started this process in late April. Since that time, the following lapses in customer service or communication occurred:
- Two of your representatives have called me by the wrong name.
- An appraiser hired by you failed to submit the appraisal at all, much less in a timely fashion.
- Wells Fargo didn’t know there was a situation with the appraisal until nearly three weeks, a phone call to me, and a follow-up email to you had passed.
- I learned about the appraiser situation from a second appraiser, and not from Wells Fargo.
- Several times during this process, each of your representatives requested and obtained documents from me, but the other would call a week or so later asking if I’d sent the requested information. They work together. They should share information and files. They should know the status of my loan and required documents, and it shouldn’t take one to two weeks and a phone call to the client to figure it out.
Your company’s lack of attention to detail is a large part of why this process is taking so long, and why a document like my bank statement (and I’m guessing my insurance policy documents) must be resubmitted because it’s had time to expire and require renewal. If this is the level of customer care I’m receiving while you’re trying to earn my business — and until we close, you do not yet have my business — what should I expect after I close? At this point, the only reason I’m continuing the process with Wells Fargo is the trouble, time, and possible expense of starting over with another bank. Frustrating customers to acceptance of substandard service is not a desirable business model.
Her excuse was that Mrs. Wiggins was out on medical leave, and the documents were likely saved in her personal folder. If you remember, in Mrs. Wiggins’ terse reply to me above, she stated those documents were in Underwriting. I’m guessing she either lied to me, or “Underwriting” is what she calls her personal folder. Also? What in the Wide World of Sports are my documents doing in Mrs. Wiggins’ personal folder? This is just screwed. Later, Evil-Lyn specified what she needed. In doing so, she got the name of my insurance company wrong. Seriously, Wells Fargo? Does no one working for you take the time to read documents?
Within a day, we learned that my HOA will not fill out a loan questionnaire without a personal check for $150. I realize this is not a bank issue, but it was one of a long line of straws threatening to break my back. I spoke with Evil-Lyn, I her told that, if we have to depend on snail mail, the locked in rate would expire. I asked about my options, since clearly these delays are not my fault. She stated that I could either start this entire process over, or I could get an extension on my rate. Yes, that second one sounds painless. Let’s do that. “There is a fee associated with that. I think it’s $250.”
“You’re telling me that delays, caused by you, are either going to cost me another $250, or I can start this entire excruciating process again, and pay for another appraisal? Are you serious?”
At this point, Evil-Lyn sounded like she had just about enough from me. She told me not to pay yet, and that she would call me back later. That evening, she called to say that she was going to speak with someone else at Wells Fargo for advice, because “there could be a problem with your master insurance policy. We have denied condo loans for insufficient coverage before.” As soon as I got off the phone, I told Lindsey, “I’ll bet by this time tomorrow, they will deny my loan. Evil-Lyn just set up that scenario.” The next day, at lunch, Juan Pablo called to let me know that everything was not pehr-FECT. Sadly, our HOA and property management company apparently purchased a master policy that just isn’t good enough for one of the top three lending institutions in the country, which is, of course, a lie. It would mean that hardly anyone would qualify for a loan to purchase a unit in my complex. And so, for the first time in my life, despite having a credit rating a Kardashian would envy, and despite Wells Fargo holding my current mortgage with the same master policy, I was denied a loan.
My next step was to find a local mortgage broker who would find a loan, a great interest rate, and do a bit of leg work so that I wouldn’t need, and have to pay for, a third appraisal. The same process that took three people at Wells Fargo nearly three months of bad internal and external communication — not to mention extremely shoddy file management — to completely screw up and then back out of, took a competent mortgage professional about three weeks. The cash I had to take to closing? A whopping $16. I used my personal account. It was pehr-FECT.
UPDATE — September 3, 2014
A representative from the Wells Fargo Customer Care and Recovery Group contacted me today. I filled out their customer survey last week and, assuming the Comments field was too short for my comments, I simply left a link to this blog entry. She, among others, read the entry. Despite starting the conversation with “Is this Robin Rubin,” we did have a nice chat. Apparently “upper management” is involved, and I will receive a resolution letter by September 12. Since they denied my loan, and I refinanced elsewhere. I’m pretty sure the matter is already resolved. So, stay tuned.
UPDATE — September 11, 2014
As promised, the representative from the Wells Fargo Customer Care and Recovery Group contacted me to let me know the response letter is complete, and she will mail it today. The suspense is killing me.
Looking at my notes from the previous phone conversation, she referred to this letter as a response letter and as a resolution letter. I do not know if the terms are interchangeable, or if she misspoke when she called it a resolution letter. If it is, indeed, a response letter, I’m expecting it to say:
Hi. We understand you’re not happy with the way you were treated by our representatives during the course of your failed transaction. Oopsies. Our bad. Now, with that apology out of the way, your denial has absolutely nothing to do with that. Really. None. At all. Here’s the deal: You applied. We denied. We’re sending this letter so we can show some semblance of follow up on customer service issues. Yay, us!
We hope this proffered olive branch is enough to gain your business in the future. If not? Well, we’ll get your business anyway, because there’s a 33.3% chance we’re buying the mortgage you just refinanced.
Update — September 18, 2014
No letter yet. It’s been a week since the representative from the Wells Fargo Customer Care and Recovery Group contacted me to say the letter would be mailed that day. Perhaps they’re sending the letter by way of an actual Wells Fargo stage coach.
Update — September 20, 2014
Finally received the letter before we left town for a week. In a nutshell, it was a series of the following statements “In your blog, you said we messed up with this. We try very hard to do a great job and not mess up with this. In your case, we didn’t do well. We are sorry.”