Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bank of America or Tele-Scam? 800-669-0102

Mowing my lawn this morning I was interrupted by wife, bringing me the telephone. "Who is it?" I whispered.

"B of A," she mouthed. After the brief discussion, which I transcribe as best I can below, I considered the likelihood of this being legitimate. After all, the 800 number that popped up indicated "unknown caller" on my phone. That alone is suspicious when it comes to alleged "debt collectors" calling. Worse, when I called back the number, 800-669-0102 the voicemail said, "Hi this is Stacia," who did NOT say a company name or indicate what position she holds. And hers was definitely not the voice that called me.

Here's my call log with the Indian telemarketer:

Me: "Hello."

Indian telemarketer: "Hello, who am I speaking to?"

Me: I stated my name and added, "Who am I speaking to?"

IT: Her name and, "calling from Bank of America, formerly Countrywide Mortgage and I must inform you that this call is from a debt collector and may be recorded for quality control purposes.

Me: "Really?" Said with slight incredulity.

IT: "This is a courtesy call to determine when you will be making your mortgage payment and in what form."

Me: "Is it past due?" I already knew the answer to this.

IT: "No it is not past due, t is due now and we would like to now when you will make that payment?"

Me: "I don't know but it will be on time. What is the purpose of this call?"

IT: " We are trying to save you a charge of $97 if you pay it late."

Me: "But I'm not late. I'll pay on time, as usual."

IT: "How do you usually make your payment?"

Me: "By check."

IT: "Will that be a written draft or a check by phone?"

Me: "Depends, usually by check but I believe we have paid by phone before as well. I'm puzzled by the purpose of this call since the account is current."

IT: "We would like to know what form the payment will be and when you will make the payment."

Me: "On time. What exactly is the purpose of this call?"

IT: "This is just a courtesy call."

Me: "Well thank you very much for reminding me I have a mortgage. We'll talk to you later. Goodbye."

Then I returned to mowing my lawn, puzzling over the facts presented by this telemarketer, (a) Countrywide is now Bank of America, and (b) they've spent money hiring telemarketers to call customers who are current in their accounts. Why would a company that recently took another Federal handout  at the same time they were buying a pig in a poke whilst their shareholders were firing their chairman be wasting money calling good customers, and in my case at least, wasting their customers' precious weekend time?

Well, what else has B of A been up to this week? Oh yeah! Their stress test indicated they need another $35,000,000,000 to be "healthy" and indicated they should convert some common stock to cash. Sure, I bet people are just lining up to buy that stock now. So, I called a retired bank president and asked him what reason would a bank have for enlisting telemarketers to call and ask for early payments? Mr. B pondered that a bit and admitted he could think of no benefit to B of A that would outweigh the cost. Beyond an immediate influx of cash. But that would not help their long-term capital position.

So, the question remains, what is a bank on the public dole doing bugging good customers who are paying on time. Don't they have something better to do? Once this house is paid off I will never get another mortgage through B of A or C-Wide.

If you don't like this kind of "courtesy call" bullying then call "Stacia" and let her know how you feel: 1-800-669-0102.