Man Feels Opportunities Credit Union Screwed Him Over For $125

UPDATE: EECB Gets Credit Union To Pay Up $125

This will come as a serious blow to a number of our commenters, but we have a bad story about a credit union. Gasp, shock, horror, it’s true. Opportunities Credit Union of Vermont, where reader Rick has his mortgage, told Rick that they wouldn’t be paying for his home inspection because they never got the bill. However, Rick’s inspector’s online billing system shows when people look at the bills he sends. It shows that Opportunities Credit Union accessed the bill. Whoopsies. Here’s Rick’s letter to the Credit Union president, asking them to pay the $125 for the home inspection:

Caryl Stewart
President
Opportunities Credit Union
92 North Avenue
Burlington, VT05401

Dear Ms. Stewart,

I am writing to make you aware of an incident regarding my mortgage with your organization [address redacted]. Let me first say that this is my first mortgage, and after falling in love with our new property, it seemed very unlikely that we would be able to get a mortgage at all – the mobile home in question had been rejected by several traditional mortgage agencies, and Opportunities Credit Union was there for us when we needed you. We’re very grateful for this, yet feel that we received poor service recently regarding a mandated home inspection.

Prior to applying for our mortgage, we had an excellent local inspector, Mr. Jim Breer of Better Home Inspections in Barre, conduct an inspection of the home. Based on this inspection and an appraisal, Erika Glidden sent a list of repairs to complete. After the repairs, the appraiser and inspector would return to verify the repairs. I’m sure this is all common practice, but as this is our first home, we asked Erika to explain it all in detail. One of the details discussed was payment for the post-repair appraisal and inspection. Erika was clear with us that these bills would be submitted to Opportunities, and that the credit union would pay them. I verified this again in mid-June, prior to scheduling the follow-up inspection with Mr. Breer. When I contacted Mr. Breer, I informed him that he should get a list of required repairs directly from Ms. Glidden, and that he should verify with her that Opportunities would be paying his fee. We were very clear about this, and he had no trouble getting the list for his inspection from OPPSVT.

On June 26, 2008, Jim Breer complete his inspection, and on June 27th, he submitted his report electronically to myself and to Natalie Aiuto at Opportunities, as instructed by Erika Glidden. The invoice for his services was attached to the report (as with the appraisal, which was paid without issue).

Mr. Breer’s electronic report system assigns a specific username and password to each recipient, and allows him to track access to his reports. He reports that Ms. Aiuto viewed the report on July 1st. On July 3rd, Ms. Glidden contacted me via email to report that she “still had not received” the inspection report, and that Mr. Breer “never sent… a copy…” At this point (also on 7/3/08), I provided Ms. Glidden with my user name and password to access the report – both copies included invoices. After finishing two small repairs, on 7/28/08, Ms. Glidden emailed to let me know that everything was “all set.”

Nearly a month later, on 8/19/08, Ms. Glidden forwarded me a copy of an email from Jim Breer, complaining that he had not yet been paid his $125 fee, and threatening a lien on the property. Included in the forwarded email was the following:

    From: Natalie Aiuto
    Sent: Tuesday, August 19, 2008 8:43 AM
    To: ‘Erika Glidden’
    Subject: FW: Past due balance

    Erika, on 8/5 I sent you an e-mail that you replied to on 8/11, asking if the home inspector’s bill for $125 for Young was paid, and you replied that the file was “all set.”

    Please see Jim Breer’s e-mail to Rick Young, cc’ing me…

    Ms. Glidden explained to me that “escrow had been closed out,” and that the bill was now my responsibility. In this same 8/19/08 email, she explained that she “never received a bill,” and therefore bore no responsibility. The bill was attached to the report, which she had viewed.

When I was able to get the report tracking data from Mr. Breer, and provide it to Ms. Glidden, she protested that, “the only part of the report that was looked at was parts that pertained to repairs on the home.” There was no such confusion with the appraiser’s report, which I have a copy of and which is laid out very similarly – and even so, failure to notice a bill does not mean that it needn’t be paid. Further, in the body of the 8/19 email, it is made clear in the email between Ms. Aiuto and Ms. Glidden that Opportunities was aware of the fee, and acknowledged responsibility for payment prior to the release of escrow funds.

Ms. Stewart, I recognize that $125 isn’t a lot of money, but your organization made a commitment to me, and to Mr. Breer that you would compensate him for his services. The consequences of Ms. Glidden’s failure to follow through and the fact that she provided false information to Ms. Aiuto shouldn’t fall on your customer. To resolve this issue, I would appreciate it if Opportunities would pay Mr. Breer the $125 that he is owed. The ball was dropped here, and responsibility lies with OPPSVT. If needed, I will gladly provide copies of all emails and records that I have access to.

I look forward to your reply and a resolution to my problem, and will wait one week before seeking help from a consumer protection agency or the Better Business Bureau. Please contact me vie this email address, or at xxx-xxx-xxxx [redacted]

Sincerely,

Rick Y.
[address redacted]

Maybe they accessed it and just didn’t look at the right parts, but how is that Rick’s fault? The crux isn’t Ms. Glidden’s or Aiuto’s reading and comprehension skills, it’s whether they got the bill. By their own admission, they did….so what’s the problem?

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. B says:

    Oppurtunities Credit Union, never missing an opportunity to screw you.

  2. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Mr. Breer’s electronic report system assigns a specific username and password to each recipient, and allows him to track access to his reports.

    Nice.

    …and even so, failure to notice a bill does not mean that it needn’t be paid.

    Yeah, I bet the credit union would expect to get the mortgage payment whether or not the OP noticed the bill in their mailbox.

    Someone’s going to have to explain the photo to me because I don’t get it. Purposefully spilling syrup? Tried to catch the syrup?

  3. Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

    It’s a sticky situation?

  4. liz72701 says:

    I think I’ll just stop opening my bills so I don’t have to pay them anymore. So easy! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me?

  5. blainer says:

    I think that that is the best example of a well written demand letter ever displayed on this site.

    Very nice work, Rick Y.!

    • bairdwallace says:

      @blainer: Yeah, I was just thinking that; no typos that I noticed, polite, clear, concise… Polite, while still clearly describing the total lack of competence on the part of some employees.

      kudos.

    • m4ximusprim3 says:

      @blainer: Agreed. Very good letter, Ricky! You win a Grammar!

      I would definitely expect to see the credit union take care of this one. The fee value seems trivial compared to the mortgage value, and in this market, good homeowners (mobileowners?) are hard to find anyway.

  6. howie_in_az says:

    Ms. Stewart, I recognize that $125 isn’t a lot of money, but your organization made a commitment to me, and to Mr. Breer that you would compensate him for his services.

    Why say that $125 isn’t a lot of money? The Credit Union needs to pay their bills regardless of how much the bills are or aren’t. Never, ever say “I realize this isn’t a lot of money, it’s the principle of the thing”! Just say “pay this bill as agreed, or else”.

    $125 can get you: a nice dinner followed by drinks and a movie with your spouse; two (possibly only one) full tanks of gas; groceries for a week; football equipment for the kids; two or three video games; your cable bill; an iPod; a plane ticket to see relatives; numerous other things.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @howie_in_az: I think he meant to be apologetic about possibly sounding like he was haggling, which he was not. And $125 IS a lot of money, I agree! I just filled up my tank for $54, heck yes, $125 is a lot of money!

  7. Chongo says:

    I like this letter. Very “to the point” and so dang polite that it makes me not want to swear or anything

  8. Ben Popken says:

    As far as the picture goes, I think I was going for a kind of “made a mistake in Vermont” thing. Admittedly, it’s a stretch.

    • BrianDaBrain says:

      @Ben Popken: Uh, yeah. Stretchy, like a slinky. See, I can do it too :)

      Credit Unions never, ever, ever, screw people over. That’s what I’ve always said anyways… seems like I’ve been proven wrong. Damn you, Opportunity Credit Union.

  9. ShortBus says:

    A few days ago I just spent $350 for a house inspection, $325 for a well/septic inspection, $80 for a plumber to dewinterize the place, and $75 for a termite inspection. All of these things came out of my pocket ::sigh:: I would have *loved* to spend $125.

    I’m not familiar with lenders being responsible for the inspection costs though; is this commmon?

    • Sudonum says:

      @ShortBus: The lender is not responsible for the cost of the inspection. The lender pays the inspector on behalf of the borrow/home owner and the cost is added to the loan, or paid as part of “closing costs”. Somewhere in the post or the OP’s letter it was mentioned that “escrow had closed” they are implying that the bill is the home owners responsibility. All the funds have been dispersed and they have no way now to pay the bill.
      In every closing I’ve been through, which is over 25, in 4 different states, the buyer pays for the inspection unless it is negotiated in the sales contract that the seller pays. I have never seen where the lender pays.
      On some re-fi’s or HELOC’s the lender will pay for inspection or appraisal, but usually that is when they have in-house personnel.

      • Sudonum says:

        @Sudonum:
        Just to add, the escrow company screwed up when they failed to put this expense on the HUD statement. You might be able to get them to pay since it was their mistake.
        And if the escrow company wasn’t sent the report that was e-mailed from the inspector, then the inspector screwed up.

  10. Ouze says:

    I’d just like to point out this is an excellent example of a letter to a business that screwed you. It was well written, not overlong, to the point, had all the facts in order and had a clear explanation of what your wanted.

    It’s also important to praise you for what you omitted: you left out irrelevancies/pity points such as “i’m in the military/i have a tumor/this caused 8 overdrafts”, as well as threats that would reduce or eliminate their desire to help (“i’ll never do business with you again”).

    Well done!

  11. marsneedsrabbits says:

    I hope that Rick’s polite, concise, and well-written letter gets an appropriate response.

    I’d be really interested in seeing an update.

  12. Judge_Smails says:

    Normally, the credit union would have paid it and it would have been added to the loan.

    Either way, Rick pays for it.

    Rick just needs to pay it and go on… He must have spent an hour writing that letter.

  13. coren says:

    So it’s been a week with no response, I take it? From the sending of this letter, that is.

  14. MsAnthropy says:

    Now THAT is one seriously good letter. I’m impressed – where can I sign up for “writing a complaint letter without getting all whiny and bitchy and going off on tangents” lessons from Rick Y??

    Although… I too am confused as to how/why this lender was responsible for the inspection fees. We had to pay for our own inspection (and everything else)… if credit unions pay for all that stuff, then damn… they really are as great as everyone says.

  15. johnnya2 says:

    Mortgage companies do not PAY for the inspection. It is rolled into the closing costs. The fact is the credit union pays it upfront and then it is paid at the closing table. There are some missing elements in this story that need to be addressed as well. The credit union is saying they would not even make the loan without these repairs, and it is a trailer. Is this permanently attached to land you purchased? I would assume it is since you call it a mortgage, but if it is not affixed it is not a mortgage. Sorry Rick, but this is your bill, it just isn’t rolled into your closing costs or mortgage as you thought it would be.

  16. TheMurderer says:

    Geh. What trouble.

  17. zerj says:

    hmm,
    I am aware the buyer normally pays for the first home inspection, however in this case there were 2 inspections. Usually if there are problems with the first inspection the seller ends up paying for making the repairs. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the seller was on the hook to pay for the 2nd inspection. And yes the money would be floated by the bank but would be held back when writing the big check to the seller. So I’d guess the problem is the bank overpaid the seller of the home by $125.

    The problem probably lies with the online system the inspector uses. I have yet to see a bank who deals well with online invoices. When closing on my home my mortgage company wanted some prior bank statements. I emailed them some PDFs these were unacceptable they wanted ‘real’ statements. I printed the PDF’s and then faxed them to them. These were OK as they presumed they were faxed hardcopies direct from the bank.

  18. meatbeagle says:

    Hi all, I’m the OP, and I’m much gratified by the responses to my letter here. As an update, a week has passed with no response from the credit union. I’ll follow up with a call tomorrow.

    Re: responsibility for the bill – we paid out of pocket for the first inspection. The second was mandated by the credit union, post-repair, and they committed to pay for it. They did so verbally both to myself and to the inspector, with no mention of where these funds would come from.

    I’m most disappointed that they have not responded at all. I EECB’ed this as well as possible within such a small organization – sending it to the president and cc’ing the entire admin, ccerv, and mortgage departments. Not sure what I need to do to get a response here. I’ll send an update when all is resolved.

  19. xredgambit says:

    I’ve had a bad experience at my credit union. I am used to the big banks and where if I put in an atm deposit at least $100 is cleared up for use. Or else it should be cleared by 2pm if done before 2pm.
    I deposited $140 (cash) on a friday morning at a little after 8am. I didn’t get the funds cleared until tue or wed. Becasue of this I had 2 over draft fees. I got one removed.
    All this could have been avoided if I used the night drop box.
    So all in all it looks as if only crooks use the atm to deposit money because they will hold your money for a couple of days before they clear it.

  20. meatbeagle says:

    Update #2 – no resolution yet, so I’m holding off on trying for an update to the main page.

    After a week with no response, I called the credit union to talk with the CEO. My trusty EECB research skills must be faulty, as the original recipient is no longer with the organization. I left a voicemail for the current CEO, forwarded the email to her, and recieved an immediate response, promising that she’d get into it and get back to me. Even at the end of the day, it took less than one hour to respond to me once the right person got the letter. I’ll keep you posted.