Worst Company In America "Elite 8": Countrywide VS Bank of America

Here’s your fourth “Elite 8″ match-up: #7 Bank of America VS #15 Countrywide Home Loans.

ATTENTION: Bank of America is currently in the process of purchasing Countrywide, but the transaction is not yet complete. For the purposes of this contest we ask that you evaluate their track record with consumers separately. Thank you.

Here’s what a few of you had to say about these two companies:

Bank of America:

“Bank of America tellers gave away $12,000 of my money to a woman with missing teeth and a fake driver’s license in my name. On SEVEN occasions. In places I never go.”

“My girlfriend had a credit card with a bank that was bought out by BOA. Her monthly payments went from $20 a month to $170 despite the fact that she never missed a payment and always paid more then the minimum.”

“BoA is not just “a” bank, they’re a bank with some of the least customer-friendly policies in America. Re-opening closed accounts then charging $35 for it? That’s not a courtesy, that’s fraud.”

“Can u say overdraft? Lets take billions from the poor every year and feel good about it!”

Countrywide:

“Countrywide, because before the subprime crisis I could finance my education, and now I’m posting as a dropout.”

“Countrywide is ultimately what caused the dollar to be worthless. So them, and people like them, wrecked our economy.”

“Countrywide is the subprime mortgage business. Sure, blame is spread widely, but no one company/person/sector so aggressively made it part of their business plan.”

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2008 series. The companies nominated for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. Keep track of all the goings on at consumerist.com/tag/worst-company-in-america.

Comments

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  1. simplegreen says:

    so basically either one we pick they both still suck.

  2. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    This one is a wash, BoA is buying countrywide to become “Evil Voltron”.

  3. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    This one is gonna be a true “Battle of the Bastards”

  4. FattyMatty says:

    nooooooooooo, I really want BofA to take the title. Being a renter, I don’t really have strong feelings about CountryWide…but I HATE BANK OF AMERICA. I like that post earlier. That guy is my hero.

  5. NightSteel says:

    BoA blows, but Countrywide is the poster boy for subprime meltdown, affecting probably millions of people and farking with the economy in general. Countrywide should ‘win’ this one.

  6. hellinmyeyes says:

    Lol we knew it was going to happen… Countrywide all the way. They’re not just nickel-and-diming like BoA, they’re screwing the whole nation’s economy and STILL getting bailed out by federal legislation and the taxpayers’ coffers.

  7. MissTicklebritches says:

    I really thought this would be the final match-up. Huh.

  8. sleze69 says:

    Although I voted for BoA, it looks like Countrywide is in the lead. I am fine with either winning.

    @Wormfather is Wormfather: I think “Devastator” is more appropriate.

  9. zentex says:

    this vote sucks.

  10. We should actively go for a tie by posting how many votes each company has after we each vote…

    Bank of America 47% (126 votes)
    Countrywide 53% (141 votes)

  11. huadpe says:

    I voted for BoA, because in trying to buy countrywide, they have now become liable for the sins of countrywide plus their own.

    So they’re worse than countrywide because they ARE countrywide, and then some.

  12. rpm773 says:

    Since BofA is buying Countrywide, we’ll all be winners!

  13. EyeHeartPie says:

    Take all the problems of BoA, add in the culpability of Countrywide in the subprime crisis, and you have one evil company. Bank of Countrywide FTW!!

  14. SahuaritaSam says:

    COUNTRYWIDE IS HORRIBLE. I hate that company and everything they have done to screw me and my fiancee over. Vote hard.

  15. Burgandy says:

    I don’t deal with either, but my vote goes to Countrywide, for screwing up the entire housing industry and making me wait that much longer to get into my *own* home, tired of renting and now even the real estate agents are gunshy. Bastards.

  16. JeffDrummer says:

    BofA was my former bank, I left because their service and interest rates suck… so I vote for them…

    However, Countrywide may be worse, now that know that they are threatening democracy by bribing some Senators (Dodd, and five other Democrats), they likely deserve the vote.

    Anyone who voted for Diebold, should vote for Country, if Diebold is corrupting elections, Countrywide is corrupting the politicians (well, of one party anyway)

    * I know that there are a very good share of corrupt Republicans, but in this case its Democrats, trust me, I know that both parties are scummy

  17. stopshopping says:

    I have to defend B of A as of today – they have been a fantastic source of credit for us and they seem to be working on a great customer service department (at least for credit cards). That is my limited experience, so I will pick Countrywide.

  18. raisitup says:

    bank of america, because anyone who signs 50 times a mortgage they ultimately can’t or might not be able to afford deserves what they get.

  19. dotyoureyes says:

    These two really ought to share the ultimate title. No way this is an elite eight matchup. They’re by far the worst left in the competition.

  20. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    I’d rather give the “award” to a company that will still be around to live with the shame of having received it. With Countrywide on the block, and BoA as the likely purchaser, I’m in favor of giving them the award directly. Inherited shame just isn’t punishment enough for BoA.

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    @LucasAnderson: Inspired! We totally should aim for a tie.
    I’d be happy with either, barring that. Trend towards Countrywide, simply because their sins are so egregious. As is their being yet another poster-boy of what happens when key markets are unregulated and thrown to the rapacious Free Market winds.

  22. EyeHeartPie says:

    @raisitup: Bad customer service (BoA) vs. outright lying to borrowers to get them to take out huge loans (Countrywide). I vote for Countrywide.

  23. Sudonum says:

    Todays BofA post pretty much clinched it for me.

  24. kc2idf says:

    @simplegreen:
    “so basically either one we pick they both still suck. “

    Well, of course. Theoretically, if you filter in such a manner as to remove the less-sucky, then each stage of filtering will result in more and more intense concentrations of suck.

  25. Don’t people who voted for Countrywide realise when you vote for BoA you’re voting for both?

  26. BoA should inherit Countrywide votes.

  27. Amy Alkon says:

    It seems likely BofA is going to be the parent company of Countrywide. If you vote for Countrywide, BofA will not be recognized for exactly how horrible they are.

    That’s me above, by the way. Seven times their tellers gave away thousands and thousands of dollars of my book advance to the woman with the fake driver’s license with a wrong expiration date.

    They are doing everything they can to stonewall me in pursuing the thief, and told me that their investigators are “working with” the police. I called the police. Bank of America had not called. And the file with my police report hadn’t even been looked at by detectives until I got on the phone and begged them, told them all the reasons my case is solvable, and committed to hiring private detectives and doing more legwork (I’ve done a considerable amount).

    In addition, I deposited money into my IRA on April 2 so as to not crowd other customers doing it at the last minute and rush bank employees. Could they manage to get that into my account before April 15, so it would be deposited for 2007 tax year? Nope!

    The circus continues.

    By the way, this woman who stole from me is doing it to other people, too, and BofA preventing me from having tape of her — I’ve tracked a car thief and hit and run driver in the past and had them prosecuted — means that if she has your ID, she’s maybe raiding your account now.

    Advice for all who can: Freeze your credit at the credit bureaus. At least when the thief went to Target, Kmart, etc. and applied for instant credit in my name she was denied because of the credit freeze.

    Oh, and because I’m super conservative with my personal information, and investigated this (with the DMV and auto insurer), I believe the woman got my information through some data leak at BofA, probably when they asked me to update my driver’s license info when I put (or rather tried to put) money into my IRA on April 2.

    Please vote for Bank of America. Don’t waste your vote on Countrywide. Not a surprise this once good bank would buy Countrywide. Soon it’ll be one big pit of slime.

  28. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @Amy Alkon: Are you another one like my fiancee who was once a proude Fleet banker turned BoA hater?

  29. mike says:

    BoA purely based on that one guy.

  30. highmodulus says:

    BofA is pure evil. Countrywide is one of many companies caught in the subprime mess. Don’t be a chump, vote for BofA!

  31. sburnap42 says:

    Hard choice. I’ve been a Countrywide customer for over ten years, with three different mortgages, and found their service to be good.

    On the other hand, their a good part of why my home value has dropped by 30%.

  32. SOhp101 says:

    BofA because that encompasses both of them now.

  33. AaronZ says:

    Sweet! I voted for BoA and was vote # 666!

  34. pal003 says:

    It was a toss-up until I saw this headline today “Bank of America to cut 7,500 jobs post-merger.”

    BofA has crappy policies and customer service, and now they are heartless and mean too!!

  35. Amy Alkon says:

    Are you another one like my fiancee who was once a proude Fleet banker turned BoA hater?

    I used to be a happy BofA customer, but the way my branch and the bank in general is run is noticeably different. There seems to be vast turnover at the branch I go to, and they have people on staff in the fraud dept, etc., whose job seems to be to keep you from getting on the phone with them in hopes that they can keep you from getting any information.

    Additionally, the woman who’s a VP in a fraud department here in downtown LA spoke to me on the phone using language like “had did it” and “axed” for “asked.” I’m not one who believes people with a college education are necessarily sharper or more intelligent, but a command of fundamental English seems in order for somebody with an executive position at a bank. Also, I can’t imagine their employees, hearing stories like mine daily, as the woman who took my fraud report at the branch said she does, can have much pride in the business they work for.

    As I keep writing to Nereida Claudius in the office of the chairman there and asking others at the bank, “How do you sleep nights?”

    I used to wake up every morning happy and happy to be alive, and every day now, I wake up with a sense of dread. Just today, I’ve spent about an hour and a half on the phone trying to clear up messes with my health insurance due to the immediate closure of my account, and all the mess that ensued.

    The fault on Bank of America’s part — that they didn’t exercise MINIMUM due diligence when this woman presented a fake driver’s license with the wrong expiration date. Their bank associate manager in Dixon City told me, when I asked whether she’d tried to check the signature or other info (mother’s maiden name, etc.) in the computer, that they weren’t able to access the computer files on me. So they just…gave out the money! To a woman with MISSING TEETH! (What kind of person has missing teeth these days? Probably not somebody with $12K in the bank, readily available, huh?)

    Had they, in any one of these seven times they dispensed thousands of dollars in cash to somebody presenting a fake ID in my name, managed to do the most minimum checking, they might’ve stopped her, had her arrested, and had that ID confiscated. My hell now exists because they didn’t do anything but hand over my money.

    And while talking to the press about how they have “Multiple layers of security.”

    Is that the most hilarious thing you’ve ever heard, or what?

  36. SkokieGuy says:

    @Amy Alkon: Amy, similar to the other BOA post today, have you thought of parking your car in front of a BOA branch with a large sign:

    Scared of identify theft? Ask me how BOA didn’t protect me!

    I suspect you’ll get some quick action.

  37. oregongal says:

    Countrywide FTW. You can always change banks but mortgages are a lot tougher to deal with. Generally speaking that is. YMMV.

  38. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @huadpe:
    @postnocomments:
    Total agreement with both of you & anyone else, BofA buying Countrywide makes them liable for all of Countrywide’s problems & compounds BofA’s problems because they are knowingly buying a corrupt company.

    A.P. Gianini is rolling in his grave now!

  39. Coles_Law says:

    @LucasAnderson: Vote fixing? Wasn’t Diebold the other day?

  40. mikes63737 says:

    BofA is one of those companies that shares a special place in my heart along with AT&T. Well, maybe not my heart.

    I never chose either BofA or AT&T. They both bought up other companies and took their customers.

    Countrywide never bought me from anyone, so I like them more than BofA. So my vote’s for BofA.

  41. LJKelley says:

    I really hope Countrywide wins the whole competition. They are the problem with the current economy. The fraud they have done… asking people to lie on forms just to get approved…

  42. malvones says:

    @mikes63737: I swore I would never do business with BofA after I cancelled my checking account with them, following a long string of infuriating fee issues. Then about a year later they bought out MBNA, and I was back in their clutches.. I watched that account like a hawk until it was paid off (after I finally managed to figure out how to actually pay for the account again through some byzantine maze they created through MBNA.com and also eat my new, higher APR).

    Then, I commited the tragic mistake of over-paying on the account. Currently, I’m trying to get them to reverse some finance charges on a *negative* account balance.

    Truly they are a tool of the devil himself.

  43. Catebb says:

    I have to say BofA should win because they look at Countrywide and see something worth buying.

  44. blackmage439 says:

    Considering the only wrong that Countrywide has done to me is having a lower interest rate on their high-yield accounts, I have to go with BoA.

    Their “keep the change” program was falsely marketed. It sounded like you were actually accruing rewards like a credit card. After I learned this wasn’t the case, I dropped them.

  45. Concerned_Citizen says:

    If countrywide is becoming BoA, why vote for country wide?

  46. getjustin says:

    When a contest takes 4 months to complete it get really old, really fast. End this thing already!

  47. synergy says:

    BoA hasn’t done anything to me in the nearly 5 years I’ve been with them. Countrywide I don’t deal with because I rent. Besides, I don’t buy the “they lied to me!” Did they put it in writing? Did you not know you were going to owe a ton more money later? Did you sign while knowing that? Eh.

  48. DadCooks says:

    Bank of America is worse because they are stupid enough to buy Countrywide.

    Customer service is a joke at Bank of America. I have my mortgage at BofA with my monthly payment being automatically withdrawn from my checking account–BOY WAS THAT THE WRONG THING TO DO! I can’t get them to stop the autopayment, they seem to be afraid that I’ll stop paying my mortgage (mortgage contract does not require autopayments). What I want to do is pay double principle each month so that I can get rid of this mortgage sooner and save a ton of interest. Nooo, they want me to pay a startup fee for a bi-weekly program that is a joke and the way they credit the payments and the extra fee they charge each month ends up saving you nothing (in fact you actually pay more).

  49. JDAC says:

    Ah fuck. Looks like my run of BoA votes is coming to an end.

  50. magnoliasouth says:

    Tough call, this one. However Countrywide wins for predatory lending. I closed my BOA account because it was always a headache.

  51. legwork says:

    I’d be happier with this poll if we stopped the voting with the 10-20 worst. This pairing reinforces my feelings. Both are incredibly poisonous entities and the thought of either sneaking off with a loss doesn’t seem right.

  52. Cap'n Jack says:

    Oh it’s gotta be Countrywide.

  53. theblackdog says:

    Well the poll is already closed, but I’d vote BofA, especially with how they just left some of their military bank members in the cold.

  54. jjkean2 says:

    As much I dislike BOA I will say that they were quite cordial today when I did go in to close my accounts. I was in and out of the bank with a cashiers check in about 20 minutes.

  55. yorick328 says:

    I’ve had Countrywide as my mortgage holder for almost 15 years without a hitch so I can’t complain. As to the mortgage mess, they are only one of the more closely scrutinized mortgagors so everyone hears how bad they are. However, BoA’s
    practices, especially with my college age daughters, hit home with their $30.00 overdraft charges on debit cards. Rather than disallow the $10 withdrawal and use of the MAC card, they charge $30 without first informing cutomers that their account has insufficient AVAILABLE funds. This is a joke too because they take sweet time posting deposits to accounts. all to their benefit. Since they can’t make money with mortgages, revolving credit and other traditional revenue sources, they are reverting to nickel and diming the little guy. BoA gets my vote.