Saturday, September 29, 2007

Request to Waive Late Fees

I'm a very deliberate person. Most everything I do or say is done for a reason. Sometimes this is hard for others to understand, from my casual air and refusal to display things like anxiety, if I can help it. Maybe the reason is a strange accommodation for my health needs - got a lot of those, and to the uninitiated, they can seem silly or odd or unnecessary.

They aren't. Well, odd, yeah.

Walter called this a very clever letter. Very high praise from that man. Oh, I was so pleased! Perhaps you can figure out some of why he said that, reading between the lines.

Of course, he's known me well for 14 years, both as a life partner and a business partner. So he's got a leg up on all y'all.


We are requesting Chase consider waiving the accrued late fees of $887.25 in our repayment plan. For a number of reasons, we don't believe late fees are owed.

Our recent mortgage modification request (8/27/07) was not our first request, but the second. The first one began by telephone in 8/06. We were specifically instructed not to make payments during the approval process. We were also specifically told we were not delinquent.

We understand that when borrowers are 3+ months delinquent, then for legal reasons, the bank will refuse to accept partial payments. However, our own case was entirely different from that.

First, the request - not a refusal - was initiated by Chase. Second, the only reason Chase requested this was because Chase was offering 45 special "hurricane" customers a chance to request a mortgage modification covering the period after our hurricane forbearance expired. Third, Chase made that specific "don't pay" request on 9/1/06, and only our 8/1/06 payment was unpaid at the time. We were not 3 months delinquent at all.

Here's what happened.

We were in Ft. Lauderdale's Ground Zero for Hurricanes Katrina (8/05) and Wilma (10/05). The eyes of both hurricanes passed over our house. Wilma especially caused significant damage to our house, land, possessions and income, and Wilma caused bodily injuries to me. The recovery period was very long.

Working through Chase's Disaster Department, then with SB in [Workouts], we were placed on a 12-month HUD hurricane forbearance program, ending 8/06. In 3/06, following its program requirements, HUD filed a "partial claim" lien of $9878.16 against our title.

In August 2006, PMG became our new [workout] representative. She had 45 "hurricane" customers she felt may be eligible for post-hurricane forbearance mortgage modifications due to continuing special circumstances. Our "circumstances" were numerous, including my chronic serious medical issues. The modification would start with the payments due for 8/1 and 9/1/06.

On 9/1/06, Ms. PMG specifically requested that we not make payments during the approval review period, because then she'd have to rework her paperwork. She also asked us not to call in very often, as the 45 simultaneous mortgage modification requests meant the process would be very slow. While it wasn't guaranteed, and she didn't want us to get our hopes up, she estimated a 90% chance of approval.

We submitted a down payment of $1024.02 in postal money orders. I don't have the date at my fingertips, but it was very early in the process. A portion of that was to be applied to premiums for an "optional" product, $100,000 term life insurance for borrower [Walter].

Chase misapplied that down payment. The insurance premiums were paid by us to Chase, but Chase didn't remit the premiums to the insurance carrier. The policy was cancelled. I eventually discovered this, called the insurance company, and explained it was Chase's error not ours; but they refused to reinstate the policy.

Months passed. We periodically called Chase about our modification request and were always told it was still pending.

In early 2007, a letter from Chase said we were delinquent on our mortgage payments. Very concerned, I immediately called Ms. PMG.

She explained that HUD rules required Chase report all 45 of us as 2 months delinquent, no matter what the delinquency period really was, or even if - as in our case - we weren't actually delinquent at all. She said that letter was a mass mailing, it shouldn't have been sent to those of us in this special modification process, it was in error, and to ignore it.

Around April 2007, to my great relief, Ms. PMG called and left a message saying the life insurance had finally been reinstated. She didn't mention the mortgage modification. Naturally, we assumed it was still in process and there was no news to report. I returned her call to verify that, and to thank her for successfully reinstating the insurance.

In late May, 2007, I went out of town. My health issues clearly improved in the different environment. I'd only planned on being gone a few weeks. Staying with a friend with health problems of her own, it was mutually beneficial for us to extend my visit.

However, I hadn't arranged to have my mail forwarded to me. And since I'd communicated with PMG shortly before I left Florida, I didn't call her again for some time.

So I had no idea she'd transferred to a different department. One or both of our cell phone numbers were in Chase's records, yet no one called to inform us of the change in personnel, or of any change in the mortgage modification request. I continued believing, as I'd been told over and over, that we were not delinquent and our modification was in process.

Imagine my shock this August when a neighbor called to tell me someone was looking for me to serve legal papers for a pending foreclosure on my house.

I made numerous calls to Chase, and was finally told we were indeed in foreclosure, and that our mortgage modification request had been cancelled for non-response.

Every single action we took was because Chase told us to.

We didn't make payments because of the pending mortgage modification request, as instructed.

We called for updates, but infrequently, as instructed.

We didn't expect news on the modification by mail since we were communicating by telephone, as instructed.

We believed we were not delinquent, as instructed.

On hindsight, of course I should have had my mail forwarded. However, I believe my error is understandable under the circumstances.

And under those circumstances, I don't believe we should be charged late fees.


Nancy said...

Well.......that's 250 down and some more to go!!

keep nibbling!

Nancy said...

And Drive Carefully!!!!!

pepektheassassin said...

What a mess, what a mess....

k said...

Yup. When it's this tight, that $250 feels like a million bucks.

miss assassin, the lucky thing is? Now that I feel safe, I mean?

This sort of mess is what I used to just thrive on. The way my parents love to play Scrabble, or some people Sudoku.

Now, I'm having fun again.

Shinny said...

Best of luck to you in getting Chase to admit to being in the wrong. I had two Chase accounts in a debt consolidation program, that they originally agreed to comply with the lower interest payments. Then out of the blue, 3 years into the program they changed my payment due date which then caused each monthly payment through the program to be late. Once I got to the end Chase expected me to pay 3 years worth of late payments on both of those accounts. Luckily my debt consolidation people stepped in and fixed that for me. They were real a**holes about it, Chase that is. Wishing you the best. I would get everything in writing from them even if it is just an email.

k said...

shinny, welcome. And thanks for the info too, BTW. I'm glad you got *yours* to behave again.

I've really been disappointed in these people. All of them.

What they don't get yet is, I used to do this for a living. At a very high level.

Back in the day, I'd make mincemeat out of little twirps like that on my coffee break.

I'll keep everything up-to-date here, so you may be seeing some sparks fly down the road. They did waive $250 in late fees. So far.

In the meantime - uh, pre-sparks - I'll post our progress on finalizing this repayment plan, and on getting making sure the cancelled then reinstated life insurance hasn't been cancelled again.

Then...then, we'll see what else we may want to do.

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