Consumerist reader Matt is still in college but he’s already having to deal with the loss of his mother, who passed away on Oct. 1. Since then, he has been going through the process of notifying credit card companies, utilities, and everyone else.
“All of them were fairly cooperative and, in fact, Capital One and Chase were even helpful!” Matt tells Consumerist. “Everyone at Bank of America, however, has jammed their head up their asses and there’s no hope of getting it free.”
Matt couldn’t locate any of his mother’s mortgage documents, so he had to call BofA to see what they could tell him. Regular readers of Consumerist can probably guess that the bank put impossible demands on Matt:
The first call ended after the associate we were speaking to told us that the only person they could talk to was the person who was listed on the mortgage: my mother.
Since she was deceased, that’s obviously not possible, so we explained “death” to the person we were speaking to. They said they had to talk to my mother, we decided it was hopeless, and gave up.
We later got on the phone with someone else who said to send them a copy of the death certificate. They lost that one. Then they lost the next one. Then they lost the third, hand-delivered, death certificate. They finally managed to get the death certificate to a filing cabinet on the fourth try. They sent a letter acknowledging they had received the death certificate, but still they asked to speak with the person on the mortgage.
Somewhere around the fourth attempt at sending the death certificate, BofA’s internal debt collectors started calling for their missing mortgage payments.
He tried to explain that he was dealing with the bank to sort everything out but the caller would only say, “we need to speak to your mother.”
After days of these collection calls, Matt finally got someone on the phone who appeared to be the top of the department.
“I explained that we’d sent in the death certificate and they had filed it, and he said that they had no record of it,” writes Matt. “I asked him to contact the mortgage department and he said, ‘We cannot contact them.’ I asked how two departments in the same company couldn’t communicate, and he said, “Well, we can, but–”. I pounced on this, and told him to contact the mortgage department, but he still held to his story. I asked if they had a fax machine, to which he said yes, and I asked if he was qualified to use it, which he said yes. We eventually got them the death certificate, but they kept calling hourly for 5 days.”
A BofA attorney eventually contacted Matt to ask if he was feeling “harassed” by the collections department, and if he would like to place a Cease & Desist order on them.
“I happily said, ‘DO THAT. PLEASE.’ The order was placed 24 hours after that call,” says Matt, who hasn’t heard from BofA collections since.
But that wasn’t the end of the nightmare.
Thirty days after his mother had passed, Matt sent BofA a letter of testamentary to demonstrate that an executor for the estate had been named.
“Again, they lost three of them,” he writes. “Again, only one department knew about them. After a conference call last week, we finally managed to get through to some managers. One of the managers gave us his whole name and put us on hold, but we got disconnected. When we got back on the phone with another manager, we told that manager the name we were given, but they ‘couldn’t find any records’ of the person we spoke to.
“We finally got someone who could operate a copy machine on the phone and got the death certificate and letter circulated around the departments, and now they could speak to us,” he continues. “When we asked about insurance, we were told they’d never heard of such a thing (even though a BofA attorney told us to ask about it). We were then told to wait 5 business days for the documents to go into the system. We gave them 7 and called back, but they weren’t in the system. We were then given the name of a manager and told we’d be called later that day. That was November 21st, we’re still waiting for that call.”
By Matt’s total, that brings the total to 6 lost documents, one Cease & Desist order, a misplaced (or fictionally named) branch manager, and 8 weeks that should have been spent mourning his loss rather than re-sending the same paperwork over and over.
Matt says he’s already put in his vote for next spring’s Worst Company In America tournament. We doubt he’ll be alone.