Worst Company In America Round One: Sallie Mae Vs. Ticketmaster

For today’s afternoon bout, two companies that probably avoid walking down dark alleys for fear of being beaten up by angry consumers get a chance to kick each other in the teeth.

Ticketmaster might as well invest in a nice apartment across the street from the WCIA Octagonal Steel Cage. The company has coasted to the Final Four for three tournaments in a row. It even made it all the way to the Final Death Match in 2010 before losing to Comcast.

So why do people hate Ticketmaster? If you have to ask, you’ve probably never had to buy tickets for a concert or major sporting event. Which means you’ve never faced the company’s ridiculous fee structure which can increase the face value of the ticket to the point where no one can afford it but scalpers who will just flip it for an even higher price.

Speaking of ticket-flipping, Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation (which not only owns many of the country’s biggest concert venues but also acts as the promoter and manager for a large number of performing artists) have recently made a very public crusade to fight secondary ticket sales sites like StubHub. Of course they do this without mentioning TicketExchange, the NFL’s official site for buying resold NFL tickets, often at grossly marked up prices… which is run by Ticketmaster.

With that out of the way, we can talk about Sallie Mae, which acts as both creator and collector of private student loans, and does a miserable job of it.

Aside from past allegations of overcharging the federal government millions of dollars for federal loan subsidies, Sallie made a lot of news recently for the $50 fee it charges borrowers each time they defer payments. It only took hundreds of thousands of signatures on a petition — and much shaming in the mass media — for the company to agree to apply that fee to the loan instead of its own coffers.

Beyond all that, many Consumerist readers nominated Sallie Mae for being a big ugly mess.

Take Neale’s testimonial as an example:

Between emails, phone calls, regular mail, every day it’s another communication from Sallie Mae. The problem, of course, is that almost all of it is junk (it’s not about the loan, they’re trying to sell you something). Then when they do send you a real letter, it’s indistinguishable from the junk. So you have to read each mail or letter, or log onto your account to read the notification. Then there’s the problem with their statements. Each loan has a grace period. But they send the new bill before the end of the grace period, so it always shows a balance due. Then, there are the phone calls. Even when the grace period hasn’t run, they start. “Hello this is Heather from Sallie Mae financial services”. Three messages a day on my home phone (yet another reason to get rid of it). And of course, my favorite are the Saturday, 8:00 AM calls, wonderful, just wonderful. “We’re just calling to remind you, etc., etc.”. I’ve never missed a payment in nearly 10 years. I don’t need reminder phone calls.

I bank with Bank of America. BofA are angels compared to these people.

We know, we know… You came here to vote. So hit one of these companies with your best shot in the poll below.
(Voting for this poll will close at 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, March 15)

This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. HeyThereKiller says:

    Ticketmaster is a shit company, but Sallie Mae is actively destroying America.

    • katarzyna says:

      Yeah, that was my thought, too.

    • valkyrievf2x says:

      In the same boat here. Ticketmaster is more of an annoyance–nothing they do affects the livelihoods of millions. Sallie Mae, though…. entire futures are dependent and affected by it.

    • Tacojelly says:

      Exactly. It sucks if you can’t see a concert, but my wife and I owe more than $30,000 in fraudulent loans because of Sallie Mae and the for profit colleges that it enables.

      And you can’t fight it, cuz it’s student loans.

      • Captain Walker says:

        Darn those people at Sallie Mae for making you sign up with a bad college. I hate how they come out there and force you to fill out the paperwork and assure you that it’s all legit and they’ll get you a great job and you can study in your pajamas!

        • Eliamias says:

          I don’t know TJ’s personal story, but I’ve heard of them hard core messing up paperwork. For example, someone paying off their loan and then SM popping up years later a) requesting payment or b) going to the IRS and saying it discharged a portion of the loan and then having it count as income.

          Then there are the people who are still in school who have to call up every month to inquire as to why they’re being charged payments when the semester just started and they got their money two weeks ago. I’m talking hard-core, credit-destroying incompetence. Plus they have the veneer of being strongly involved in government their reach is downright frightening.

          It’s hard to play by the rules when someone’s making them up/changing them as things go along.

          • RayanneGraff says:

            I don’t know TJ’s personal story, but I’ve heard of them hard core messing up paperwork. For example, someone paying off their loan and then SM popping up years later a) requesting payment or b) going to the IRS and saying it discharged a portion of the loan and then having it count as income.

            Yep, that’s similar to what happened to me & several other people in the class I took at the tech college back in 05. SM will completely fuck up your loan to YOUR detriment, and then just say “Oh well, pay us back anyway!” and threaten to garnish your wages or take you to court. Nothing but bullies.

        • suez says:

          Granted, this happened back in the 1990s when I was finishing college, but I think it shows that they’ve been up to no good for a long time. I spent my last year studying abroad in Germany. Although classes at the U. of Wisconsin–Madison (my home college through whose program I was studying abroad) ended in May, my actual classes in Germany continued through July. But according to Sallie Mae, I was graduated and thus should start paying the money back NOW, even though I was still attending school and had no way to even earn money since I didn’t have a German “green card.” I kept getting nasty letters delivered to my parents, demanding payment. My poor mother had to keep fighting with them, trying to explain the situtation, but it fell on deaf ears. Even after I was finally finished with school and traveled back to the US, the UW took its sweet time in sending me my degree. In fact, I didn’t get it until the end of the following semester, nearly 6 months after I was out of college. I went to the Sallie Mae office in person and flat-out told them I wouldn’t pay a cent until I had a degree in hand. And I didn’t.

      • longfeltwant says:

        What is a fraudulent loan? That’s an honest question.

        Many people seem to be overwhelmed by their student loans, but my on-welfare single mother sent me to a top-price Ivy League and I graduated with $20,000 in debt ten years ago. That is absolutely, positively the best twenty thousand dollars I’ve ever spent, and probably ever will. One single year of marginal salary could have paid off that debt, but I paid it off slowly over eight years.

        • RayanneGraff says:

          Here’s an example- about 7 years ago I enrolled in a technical college & got a loan through SM along with a Pell Grant. I dropped out after 2 months cause it was a total joke(the curriculum was literally “Read the chapter and answer the questions at the end” NO instruction or actual teaching whatsoever), and the school told me that they would use the grant to pay for the time I spent there & send the loan back so I’d owe nothing. Turns out they did the exact opposite, using the loan to cover my tuition and sending the grant back, and about a year later I got a collection letter from SM. I was shocked, so I went to the school to find out what happened, only to find that they’d had a complete staff turnover since I’d been there. Nobody could find any record of my financial aid, and they basically shrugged their shoulders & said “Sorry, can’t help ya!”. I tried explaining what happened to the financial manager at SM, even telling her that I had paperwork that reflected that I should NOT owe this money, but she told me- and I quote- “We really don’t care what happened, we’re gonna get our money back regardless”

          To this day I get collection letters from them and they took my tax return last year. I think that pretty much qualifies as a fraudulent loan because I was lied to by the school, and am now on the hook to pay back money that I was never supposed to owe had the school handled it properly.

          So yeah, FUCK Sallie Mae. With a pineapple. In hell. They’re the SOLE reason I can’t go back to school even though I desperately want to. There needs to be another option for student loans in this country besides those pricks.

          • Captain Walker says:

            Sounds to me like the school screwed you (lied to you, staff changed over, etc), not SM. I can understand your anger, but I think it’s misplaced in this situation.

            A little research into the quality of the education provided by the institution would have gone a long way, too. As would have immediate followup on what they did with your money when you dropped out, instead of trusting them to do it all correctly.

          • Shrew2u says:

            So, SM chose your school poorly, at a time when information about the school was just a click away on the World Wide Web? SM was supposed to exercise due diligence, to ensure that your grant was used to pay for your schooling and your loan was cancelled? SM chose to ignore the student loan, instead of sucking it up and paying it off (an expensive, but TEMPORARY lesson on good decision-making) or paying it then filing suit against the school in small claims or municipal court?

            Sallie Mae, a company that played exactly ZERO role in your decision-making all those years ago, is the bad guy for not letting you off the hook, when all they had was your word vs the school’s word? Really?

        • Tacojelly says:

          Mentally ill family member was allowed to use my wife (a college student then with no job history) as a cosigner. Surprise, she can’t make payments.

  2. jaybeas says:

    Sad to see Ticketmaster take the early lead. Don’t get me wrong – they’re terrible, but Sallie Mae is evil incarnate.

    • Ed says:

      Yeah, but Sallie Mae is quasi-governmental, so complaining about it does no good.

      • pdj79 says:

        No they’re not. They are a publicly-traded company that only services Dept of Education loans. They stopped being a government entity years ago.

  3. PhiTauBill says:

    Wow, that’s a tough first round matchup…. I think Consumerist really needs to start seeding this tourney… the format of pitting bank vs bank, retailer vs retailer, cableco vs cableco and tossup non-category matchups like this one are really too tough for the first round.

    • techstar25 says:

      @PhiTauBill
      Yeah, I was hoping they would do a better job seeding this year. Every year they do this and they always claim the seeding will be better next year. Oh well. I guess all the companies are equally terrible!

  4. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    Yeah had to give it to Sallie Mae. At least with Ticketmaster you eventually get to enjoy a show after they’re done raping you.

    • gttim says:

      I have never been raped in any way by Sallie Mae. Ticketmaster, on the other hand, rapes me at least once a month. Plus, Ticketmaster seems to help scalpers by most of the good tickets. Load of crap!

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    Ticketmaster is really fuc*ing annoying, nickel and dollaring you to death at each step, but Sallie Mae helped contribute to setting the world in economic flames. There is no question here as to who deserves to sink into a black abyss before being squeezed into a singularity.

  6. scoosdad says:

    “Each loan has a grace period. But they send the new bill before the end of the grace period, so it always shows a balance due.”

    Verizon just started doing that with my monthly home phone bill. I’d open it up, look at the balance, and it was twice what it should be. I’ve got my online banking set to pay the bill pretty close to the due-date, so I didn’t owe twice as much, and the monthly due-date didn’t change for me, which was my first thought. I wonder how many customers pay the full amoung on the bill and in effect are giving Verizon a free loan for a few months until it shakes out.

  7. DM752 says:

    I havent had any dealings with Sallie Mae but I did have to pay a $35 fee to buy a $90 ticket. So yeah, ticketmaster can suck it.

  8. humphrmi says:

    Obnoxious fees and continued spam when I ask for it to stop, Ticketmaster gets my vote.

  9. George4478 says:

    >>increase the face value of the ticket to the point where no one can afford it but scalpers who will just flip it for an even higher price.

    That makes no logical sense. If no one can afford the Ticketmaster price then who can afford the scalper’s higher price?

    • Cat_In_A_Hat says:

      I think it’s trying to say-to the point where ONLY scalpers can afford them, and then they up their prices to much higher than face value.

  10. MrObvious says:

    Ticketmaster.

    It is not Sallie Mae’s fault that people willingly take out bigger mortgages than they can afford.

    • Misha says:

      Sallie Mae services student loans, not mortgages.

      • MrObvious says:

        Oh good point, i get all of them confused. When it comes to student loans it is even more the kids and parent’s faults pushing education at any cost for any degree without doing any type of cost-benefit analysis ahead of time.

        I agree that student loans should stop being subsidized.

    • BobOki says:

      Sallie Mae is federally protected and you cannot sue them. They do small things, like hold your payment till it is late then take the entire payment and apply it to the “late fee” which is always exactly what your payment is. They will randomly close your account, write off the amount left, report it to your credit report, then open a new account for you with the amount of the last one and act like nothing ever happened. You get a credit ding and your taxes gets hit later for the “write off”. of course you are still paying on the debt even with perfect payment history.
      They like to add a small $1-$5 fee for something random which puts your payment under what is suddenly owed, then hold your payment until it is past due becuase it was not a proper payment, then apply the payment to late fees and say you still owe for that month.

      Thats just to namea few that has directly happened to me and a friend. Oh, did I mention YOU CANNOT SUE THEM.?!

  11. Booboobunnygirl says:

    Sallie Mae better win this one. Ticketmaster might ruin evenings of fun, but SallieMae ruins lives,

    • MrObvious says:

      No people who don’t know how to manager their finances ruin their own lives.

      • Jfielder says:

        And people should really know what they’re talking about before ranting about it in a public forum too, right?

      • BobOki says:

        Sallie Mae is federally protected and you cannot sue them. They do small things, like hold your payment till it is late then take the entire payment and apply it to the “late fee” which is always exactly what your payment is. They will randomly close your account, write off the amount left, report it to your credit report, then open a new account for you with the amount of the last one and act like nothing ever happened. You get a credit ding and your taxes gets hit later for the “write off”. of course you are still paying on the debt even with perfect payment history.
        They like to add a small $1-$5 fee for something random which puts your payment under what is suddenly owed, then hold your payment until it is past due becuase it was not a proper payment, then apply the payment to late fees and say you still owe for that month.

        Thats just to namea few that has directly happened to me and a friend. Oh, did I mention YOU CANNOT SUE THEM.?!

  12. Jelly says:

    The fact that one of these 2 will be out in the first round is completely ruining WCIA 2012 for me.

    • Serrinatta says:

      Agreed. I think I just cried a little inside….

      Though I can see why their pitting bank vs bank and airline vs airline. They don’t want -all- of one type of business at the top when it’s all over. Which seems a little misleading as, if there are so many of them in the running, then chances are they are likely to be nearly equally distastful. I mean, if one bank can pull tricks on you, then why not the other guy? Then they all are….. So if the one bank wins, it’s misleading that the other banks lost in round 1 because they were pitted against each other off the bat.

  13. wilberfan says:

    Given the op-ed from the resigning Goldman Sachs exec in todays NY Times, shouldn’t we just give GS the award and be done with it for this year?

  14. longfeltwant says:

    I voted for Ticketbastard because just this weekend I balked at paying sixty dollars to buy four tickets. No, Ticketschiester, I won’t pay you that money. Eat me.

  15. Jen says:

    The fact that your student loans are not discharged in bankruptcy and sometimes not discharged after dying for your country is enough to gall me.

    The government can garnish wages and/or take Social Security benefits to pay your student loans. Your entire borrowed balance is due immediately at default.

    You might have trouble renewing professional licenses with the government if you default.

  16. spmahn says:

    Ticketmaster is a friggen monopoly that is in cahoots with the scalpers to perpetuate high prices in the market they control. Ever try to get front row tickets to a concert or sporting even? Too bad, Ticketmaster already sold the first 10 rows to the brokers they work with, before the tickets even went on sale, but you’re free to buy them on Stubhub or TicketsNow at 4X their face value. Screw them.

  17. spmahn says:

    Is there anything theoretically stopping someone from paying off their student loans with credit cards, then filing bankruptcy to discharge that debt? Would that work?

    • Froggmann says:

      No

      1. It shows a planned pattern of default. The judge will see it and nail you to the wall.
      2. In order to pay off an absurd level of debt you need to have a pretty good job to be able to have that high a limit on your credit. If your job is that good, you may as well forgo a few nicetys and just pay the debt off.

      • Serrinatta says:

        Froggmann is correct. Also, you’d have to have a pretty good credit score to get more than one card (as one card isn’t going to have a $30,000 limit). Each consecutive card company will see how many cards you already have, and give you less and less, or finally deny you.

    • Not Given says:

      Charge everything on credit and spend most of your cash on paying off the student loans. Wait two years making minimum payments, then file bankruptcy.

  18. final_atom says:

    wow this is surprising. more people are upset with a company that screws you out of a half day to a day’s work (at most) than a company that screws you everyday your house is under water.

  19. framitz says:

    Ticketmaster is awful, but I haven’t dealt with them for a very long time.
    Sallie Mae on the other hand has done a lot of tangible damage.

    • Power Imbalance says:

      The fact that Ticketmaster is far ahead is very telling as to why companies like Freddy Mac and Sally Mae are allowed to continue their reign of terror and speaks volumes about some Consumerist readers.

      • Missing in Vlissingen says:

        Actually, I think it reflects the fact that Ticketmaster’s abuses (ridiculous fees) offend nearly every customer, while Sallie Mae’s abuses affect far fewer people — though in a far more damaging way.

  20. natebum says:

    I have never gone to any concert in my life, n have never dealt with ticketmaster, but I have dealt with Sallie Mae and all their crap. so Sallie you got my vote.

  21. Serrinatta says:

    Sally Mae is quit the life killer, and they make you accountable for their own mistakes.

    Like the fun time I had faxing in their forms, waiting two months (and still being charged for those two months) for them to send me a “We didn’t receive it” letter. This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the fact that the letter was addressed to my new address (which they’d gotten from the paperwork they “hadn’t received”).

    Also being lied to over the phone when I asked how much I owed at the time. I was told $200. Then I go online to pay, and it refuses to take anything less than $600.

    Wait! it gets better!

    To ensure “plausible deniability” they never let you be on the phone with the same person twice. This allows for wasting both their money, and your time as you explain your whole situation again. Then the next person can then make the next wreck on your account.

    And, if you’re the paranoid sort: They like to call you with blocked phone numbers. (Isn’t that like ringing doorbells with a mask on?)

    Ticketmaster’s extra fee: $35.
    Ticketmaster’s overpriced tickets: $100.
    Sally Mae’s permanent damage to your credit score: priceless.

  22. OMG_BECKY says:

    Sallie Mae has the highest yielding money market accounts right now.

  23. homelesspete says:

    I live in a town with a huge Sallie Mae regional office. I have a friend who did debt collection for the hard-to-reach people that had defaulted on loans. Clearly a tough, thankless job. The sad thing was that their base salary was something in the range of 20K a year, but with bonuses earned, she made 70k a year, which is a very significant salary for a non-degreed position in the mid-west.

    As I was scrapping by trying to pay my student loans every month, she was bragging about how she was in the running for a new iPod, or a paid trip to Hawaii, or she would tell me that she was flush with cash because her monthly bonus had just come in. They would do all these giveaways and prizes on top of massive bonuses to keep their recollection staff working hard at sticking it to the debtors. It sounded like she was one of the top staff there, so it’s likely the average staff member wasn’t so well rewarded but still, the largesse was still there.

    I’m not even going to discuss my own issues with Sallie Mae, as I would only be echoing other commenter.

  24. Press1forDialTone says:

    Has everyone on this blog forgotten that Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac
    were two of the major players in the bad-mortgage backed securities
    meltdown/scam that tanked our economy !!! How could you possibly
    match up a company that provides tickets for events with a huge
    evil monolith that contributed to almost created a depression worse
    than the one at the end of the 1920’s? What in the world did the
    Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers learn in school other than how to roll a joint
    with one hand, skip class, curse the instructors and then drink the
    corporate job Kool-Aid?

    • PunditGuy says:

      Satire? Then bravo. Otherwise — physician, heal thyself.

      • Press1forDialTone says:

        I’m a Baby-Boomer, not a Gen-X/Y, born back before electricity in 1956, when
        we had to walk 5 miles to a one-room schoolhouse in the snow and we were
        taught phonics so we would actually know how to read silently and out loud and
        switch back and forth in real time. Yes, really! We actually had to learn how to
        spell correctly as well. Can you imagine? We, boys and girls were forced, yes I
        said forced to take typing and we all know that wouldn’t come in handy now don’t
        we? If you couldn’t cut the mustard, you were held back over and over again.
        If you acted out you were thrown out and never seen again. This hell got me a
        3.8 average in college and on the Dean’s List 3 out of 4 years and a terrific
        payihg job for 30 years until my retirement this year at 55 years old. No satire here
        and no recess for you ;-)

        • InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

          Except Sallie Mae is a bank that handles most student loans. The mortgage brokers are Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

      • Press1forDialTone says:

        I’m a Baby-Boomer, not a Gen-X/Y, born back before electricity in 1956, when
        we had to walk 5 miles to a one-room schoolhouse in the snow and we were
        taught phonics so we would actually know how to read silently and out loud and
        switch back and forth in real time. Yes, really! We actually had to learn how to
        spell correctly as well. Can you imagine? We, boys and girls were forced, yes I
        said forced to take typing and we all know that wouldn’t come in handy now don’t
        we? If you couldn’t cut the mustard, you were held back over and over again.
        If you acted out you were thrown out and never seen again. This hell got me a
        3.8 average in college and on the Dean’s List 3 out of 4 years and a terrific
        payihg job for 30 years until my retirement this year at 55 years old. No satire here
        and no recess for you ;-)

  25. Zelgadis says:

    Anyone who’s ever had to use Sallie Mae would never vote for anyone else. They are absolute, pure evil.

  26. FLConsumer says:

    Ticketmaster…easy choice. Never had to deal with Sallie Mae. Worked full time to pay for college. Graduating without debt: priceless, even if it does take a little longer than 4 years.