I recently completed a 3 year enlistment with the US Army, and one of my benefits was the student loan repayment program. The Army paid off my student loans, 1/3 of the loan per year for three years, making payments directly to my lender, the infamous Sallie Mae. The first two payments were a month or two later than the Army said they would be, but still, free money, and I made the small in-between payments to keep the account current.
Then I finished my enlistment, was honorably discharged, and waited for the last payment to come in. It was 4 months late and when it got there (mid-December), it looked like it was $1500 MORE than what was left owed on my account. I called the Army and they confirmed that they had payed the correct amount they owed me, taking interest into account. The overpayment belongs to me. Yay, more free money!
Alas, no such thing…
I called Sallie Mae to see how they would handle the overpayment. They said a check would be sent to me about the third week in January and to call them back if it didn’t arrive. Mid-February, the check has not appeared and I called Sallie Mae again. They said the problem may have been my recent address change and said they would stop payment on the first check and send a second one. It would take 3-4 weeks.
Late March, the check has still not arrived, and I call Sallie Mae again. Reading Consumerist pays off – I recognize that the customer service representative does not speak English as well as it appears and is using the “keyword” strategy…meaning she spouts phrases irrelevant to the situation I describe based on words she picks out of my description seemingly at random. I ask to speak to a supervisor, who surely must speak English better than the service rep did.
Sadly, he speaks better English than all three of the representative I had previously spoken to – since all of them had given me the wrong information. The check had never been sent to me at all. Since the overpayment was made by the Army, the money had been sent back to the Army. Simple company policy. Which not one of the service reps apparently knew about. The payment on the first check had never been stopped because the Army had already cashed it. No one at Sallie Mae though this might be important to tell me.
My $1500 has been with the Army since January, and I should have spent all this time trying to get the money from them. The supervisor declined to pay the interest on the money I could have been collecting all this time (sure a lender understands about interest and timely payments) but was very sorry. Suffice to say, Sallie Mae will never get my business again.
Heidi, Colorado Springs