Continuing the saga of the short sale negotiation, yesterday’s installment ended with me agreeing to wait two days before I called again regarding the status of my client’s application, when I had no intention of doing so:
Thursday, May 27: Buyer's mortgage representative advised that his mortgage commitment had expired, but that she was able to extend it until June 10. Now, I had a real deadline to provide to America’s Bank (two weeks) in order to obtain resolution of our client’s application for short sale. Or so I thought. My mistake, sadly, was in thinking that one of the drones at the Bank of America actually gave a shit.
I simply could not wait another day before calling again. Reality is that you can never rely on the elusive return phone call, and the more you call, the greater your chance (well, slightly better than zero) of getting a sympathetic ear on the other end of the line. And if any of the people at the monolith they call the Bank of America had any power or balls, then maybe my luck would have changed. But there are simply too many layers of people at the bank, none of whom care about assisting an actual client, and getting up the corporate ladder there is next to impossible -- even when one has been escalated.
On my first try, I actually reached someone with Equator system access. She reiterated the 22-day overdue task, and told me that the escalation had been put into place. I explained to her that we now had a true deadline, and that if we did not proceed to closing by June 10, 2010 the buyer would not be able to purchase the house. I also advised that (according to the mortgage representative) the buyer was cleared to proceed to closing once we had short sale approval. It was, I explained, a perfect scenario for us – all that we needed to do was get the approval from Bank of America. Or, as I learned the day before, Fannie Mae or the PMI company.
So I broached the topic of the second level of escalation, or, as I called it in an homage to Animal House, the “double secret probation escalation”. She told me that we could not enact the greater escalation until the next day, because you had to wait 48 hours after the first escalation to escalate things further. So I was forced to again "escalate" my efforts, and pull out the “let me talk to a supervisor” stunt. I asked to speak to my negotiator’s manager first. And to no surprise, I reached her voice mail. On her message, she did promise to return my call within 24 hours, but I assumed (properly, as I would later find out) that was little more than lip service.
I again called and tried to speak with someone who could give me proper information, but again my attempts were futile. And even more infuriating was the way that each call was ending. At the conclusion of each call, the B of A robot would ask me if I wanted to take a survey which would detail just how helpful they were to me. Then they would go through a prepared speech about how much they enjoyed assisting me and thanking me for being a Bank of America customer. It was like one final “fuck you” each time I spoke with a different idiot. This last time, I couldn’t take it any more and hung up before the speech was completed.
And then I steeled myself for the call that I would be forced to make on Friday.
Friday, May 28:
With no return call from my elusive negotiator or, to no surprise, her manager, it was time to make one last-ditch effort at reaching some resolution before the holiday. This time my client’s realtor was in the office with me, so I had a witness to the madness that is short sale negotiation. Drinking my first “it’s the Friday before Memorial Day” margarita, I dialed the number for the negotiator in Texas. I reached, appropriately, her voice mail.
I hit “0”, and was transferred to the operator. I then asked for the manager who had not returned my call, and was told by the operator that she did not know who this person was. I had apparently been transferred to an office in Tennessee. And the person to whom I was then transferred in Tennessee, of course, had no access to the clearly highly-secured Equator program, so she transferred me back to the San Antonio office.
Or at least she tried to. I was disconnected. Starting anew, I again dialed the main Texas number and repeated the usual name, phone number, client information and contract information to obtain my security clearance. I was then transferred to another woman, who started to ask for the information again when I stopped her. I explained that I had provided my information to several people already, and asked if she had Equator clearance. When she answered in the negative, I told her that I just wanted to (again) speak with a supervisor. A different woman eventually picked up the phone, and identified herself as a supervisor.
So I ran through the past couple of days with her – the 22-day lapse of the “task”, the lack of cooperation from the bank, the fact that the buyer’s mortgage rate was expiring, etc. It was like talking to a robot. She informed me that she could not even look at the file in the computer because I had not provided the information to the previous woman. I said that I would give her the information , that she could put it into the computer, and we could proceed from there. And then, the situation progressed from simply annoying to utterly ridiculous. This was the discussion that ensued:
Me: “Are you saying that you can’t take the information from me? Am I to understand that you won’t do it?”
Her: “That’s not what I am saying.”
Me: “Then let me give it to you.”
Her: “No, because you didn’t give it to her.”
Up until that point, I was trying to be professional. But I have my limits, and they had been reached.Me: “Let me get this straight. Are you telling me that you, as a supervisor, are incapable of taking simple information from me? Are you telling me that you are too important, too good, to waste your time doing such a menial task? Are you saying that you are too fucking important to do this? That you are too fucking special to help me out?”
And despite her protestations to the contrary, clearly I was correct. She told me that she would have to put me back into the queue, and that when the next person picked up I was to give them all of the relevant information and then she, as supervisor, would be able to help me. What a load of bullshit. She knew it, I knew it, but clearly she was not about to do anything that would require effort or any semblance of thought. So there I was, a couple of profanities later, placed back on hold.
The next person who picked up was back in Tennessee, who told me, after I provided all of the information (again) that I was not authorized to speak with her or obtain any information. "You've got to be fucking kidding me. I have spent the better part of three days talking to people at your f'ing bank. Check your f'ing file again and tell me that I am not authorized." As I had this entire conversation on the speaker phone, both the realtor and my assistant were both cringing and laughing at my frustration.
By this point, clearly, I was enraged. I was tired of being bounced around, tired of being ignored, and maybe feeling a little of the tequila. She then somehow found me in the system, and transferred me back to Texas, where I was advised for the first time that there was a new task, that the negotiator was to submit the offer to the PMI company for their approval. That was good news, I offered, but asked how this was possible if the other task was not completed.
My point, which she was clearly not understanding, was, if the question on which company was to make the decision was never answered, then maybe the lazy negotiator simply sent the offer to the PMI company; and if it was not its responsibility, it would just send it back to the negotiator and we would be starting all over again.
She would not clarify for me. She would not tell me what happened with the prior task. And at that point, told her that I was completely fed up, that I was sick of dealing with their shit, and that I (slightly off point) had just heard of and was saddened by Gary Coleman's death. I demanded to speak to the Vice President of Short Sales at Bank of America. The response, predictably, was “huh?”
I explained that there had to be a hierarchy, that I wanted to climb that ladder as high as I could to get answers, and needed someone to kick this bitch in the ass so that my file could be handled properly. When she responded in the negative, I (getting redundant, I know) demanded to speak to a supervisor. This time the supervisor was a guy, and I immediately launched into my recap of the past three days and asked for the name of the proper Vice President. He said that he could not give that information out, at which point I preached about how big corporate America, including its very own bank, is full of levels of people, none of whom are willing to make any decisions, provide any answers, or accept any modicum of responsibility.
“If you want to make a complaint,” he said, “I can give you the address.” The address, however, was a post office box in Simi Valley, CA, land of high-tech companies and OJ aquittals, which led to this exchange:
Me: “What’s the physical address? I happen to be going to California in July, and I’ll be near Simi Valley. Give me the address so I can stop in and speak to people about what a shitty and uncaring company Bank of America is. Maybe I can tell someone with power how to handle these things better.”
Him: “I don’t have a physical address.”
Me: “Do you mean to tell me that when people work for Bank of America in Simi Valley, they are only told a PO box and do not know the physical address? What do they do, make them all park in one location and then drive them all on a bus, clandestine-style?”
He failed to see the ridiculousness of this, and informed me that I would be best off looking up the address on the internet. Because it's apparently public information, but he doesn't know it or can't give out information that is readily available to anyone with a computer. So much for being the Bank of my America.
But then he told me two new pieces of information. First, that the prior stagnant task had been resolved , and that the PMI company was the correct decision-maker as to short sale approval. Second, the negotiator would not have a response by June 2, but the task was that she need only send the offer to the PMI company by June 2. “Let me get this one straight,” I queried, “you’re going to give this lazy bitch, who took 22 days to get a simple answer, five days to do what should take five minutes? And even when I have explained to you uncaring assholes that we have a deadline to meet?”
Which part of the whole June 10 deadline, I offered, didn’t sink in? “And then tell me, how long will it take the PMI company to respond?” His response? “Up to five business days.”
“Now listen to me,” I fumed, “we might as well just kill this deal now. She’s not going to send it out before June 2, if she even gets to it by then. And if they have five business days to respond, which by my count is a week, then we won’t even have an answer until June 9. That’s the day before the buyer’s mortgage commitment expires. We will never get this done. Why are you even wasting my fucking time?”“If she doesn’t do it by June 2,” he responded before giving me the official Thank you for calling Bank of America sign-off, “we can place an escalation on it.”