Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Banks handle electronic payment problems really horribly.

I knew this day would come eventually. I just didn't think it would be when I was in the middle of a refi. They only had to get things right for three months. Three months!

On Friday I was paying bills when I noticed my mortgage payment hadn't cleared. For years it had been classified as an electronic payment and all of a sudden this month it was sent out by check. Should be no problem since I paid my mortgage on the 22nd. Should be enough time to get anywhere in the United States by mail or carrier pigeon. Yet no one had received my payment.

My bank (Citibank) insisted it has been sent electronically. Why does it tell me when I log in it was sent by check - I ask. I don't know why your screen says that Mrs Snarkolepsy, but we are sure it was sent electronically.  I call my mortgage company and they tell me they haven't received the payment, but I have until the 16th until they start charging a late fee.

I log into the bank on Monday because if it was sent electronically it doesn't matter if it was a weekend or not. My payment is still not there, so I call Citibank again.

Are you sure your account number is correct Mrs Snarkolepsy? Nothing has changed on this account I tell them. We can put a stop payment on this check, they offer. Which at first I was going to take, but then realised that even if I didn't physically write the check - it is still a check - and I will get a bounced check fee. After insisting nothing had changed I finally had enough and went to a manager who also insisted my payment was sent electronically. After about 17 minutes of trying to convince them nothing had changed, they offer to conference call in my mortgage company. Where it turns out that there was some internal routing change. I couldn't quite figure out the details, but it had something to do with Chase Bank taking over JP Morgan's accounts. All of the customers at my mortgage company were having the same problem. Which probably explains the high call volume.

Now my bank has the new routing information, however no one seems to be sure if my payment was sent by check (like it says when I log in) or electronically. They are still insisting it went electronically.

Today I get a call. Citibank was calling to tell me the payment was in fact sent by check and wanted to know if I want to make a stop payment. Where I tell the girl - I apologise in advance but I am going to flip out on you. And I did.

If this bank bumps me out of a refi, I am going to flip out on this bank - I say. My rent is now 5 days late! But this girls function apparently is only to find out if I want a stop payment. What do you want us to do - she asks. Which only incenses me more. I want to be able to trust my bank to do the things they say they are going to do - I reply. This payment has always been electronic and now all of a sudden it's being sent by check. And the mail system isn't the way it used to be. You used to be able to send anything in the United Stated by mail and it would get there within 7 days - now you can't even count on the mail service!

She goes on to talk about the routing problem. Where I flip out even more. The routing problem is between you and my mortgage company. A customer should never have to be put in the middle of this problem. All I am trying to do it pay my bills. And the bigger issue is why does it take three calls to find out how my payment was even sent!

So far I'm at 6 phone calls to try to get this resolved. Three to my bank, three to my mortgage company. I actually don't know if my payment is lost or not. My mortgage company tells me not to worry. In a different world I wouldn't. But who believes anything these people say after the last four years?

Now when I make payments I always get to wonder if my rent will be paid on time. Because they can arbitrarily change the way your payments are sent without notifying you.

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