Friday, September 25, 2009

Still not happy

Overall, I do like USAA and have used many of their insurance and banking services for many years.

This blog post deals specifically with the USAA Mortgage service. You may recall my tirade against USAA Mortgage back in August 2008. It was during that episode that I learned USAA used to farm out their mortgage services, but had recently brought it in-house, "in order to provide better customer service."

A year later, I continue to have doubts about the quality of the USAA mortgage customer service. First, there was another comment I received on that post in August 2009.

Then, we had some very good friends of ours go through a very difficult house sale with USAA. I write this blog post on their behalf because (a) their story is another data point on the quality of USAA Mortgage customer service and (b) because they don't have a blog. They gave me permission to post their story here, and they have reviewed what I have written to make sure I got the facts straight.

Our friends are active duty Navy and were stationed in Florida. They bought a house there in 2005. They were very happy with their house there and would have loved to just stay there. Unfortunately, the Navy had other plans for them. They received orders to transfer to the DC area this summer, and they had to sell their house.

They were very happy they found a buyer for their house, but unfortunately, it was a short-sale. They had to sell the house for $80k less than what they owed on the house, so USAA had to approve the short-sale.

So let me ask you a question. If you were in the same circumstances, how long do you think it should take the bank to say "yes" or "no" and either approve or disapprove the short-sale?

17 minutes?

17 hours?

17 days?

17 weeks?

Let me ask the question one other way. Put yourself in the BUYER's shoes. If you put an offer on a house, how long would YOU be willing to wait for the bank to approve the sale before you give up, withdraw your offer and look for another house?

It took 17 WEEKS for USAA to make a decision on the sale of their house. Our friends were understandably worried that the buyer was going to give up and back out on the deal.

Now, in USAA's defense, I know they're taking a loss here and it's NOT a good deal for them by any means. I can understand reluctance on the part of USAA. Maybe it is prudent to stall a little bit and see if another buyer shows up and offers to pay more. ...but 17 WEEKS?!?!

There's another complaint about USAA's customer service in this case that just really bothers me though. Several times during those long 17 weeks, my friends called USAA to ask for the status of approving the sale. The customer service representative on the phone would offer the standard pleasant greeting and ask for their member number and password to access their account. When the account information came up on the representative's computer screen, there would be a sudden, "oh!" shift in attitude. As soon as they saw "short-sale pending" on the account, the customer service representatives proceeded to INSULT my friends by asking in a condescending tone, "Would you like to make a payment today?"

Our friends response? "Uhhh, NO, I DON'T want to make a payment. I'm NOT BEHIND on my payments, THANK YOU VERY MUCH. I pay my mortgage on time every month, and I would continue to do so if the Navy wasn't forcing us to MOVE."

I'm disappointed in you, USAA. On the insurance and banking side of the house, you have always treated customers such as me with the utmost respect and courtesy. That's why I've been a loyal USAA customer for so many years. It sounds to me like your mortgage service is still falling short of the mark.

My friends were already under enough stress and pressure having to deal with the PCS move (with the freeze the Navy put on PCS orders affecting them, too) and the short-sale. USAA is supposed to be a company that caters to the military, so you would think they would understand the concept of PCS moves and not insult their customers who are fully up-to-date on their mortgage payments but have to short-sell their house due to military orders.

On a positive note, USAA DID approve the short-sale, and our friends are very thankful for that. They are very happy that everything worked out fine in the end. It was just disappointing the stress that USAA added to the situation along the way.


divrchk said...

It's too bad the DOD is taking so long to get the HAP program under the ARRA going. I think it would have helped your (our) friends. It's still on hold until guidance gets published in the Federal Register and many military members, including us, are in limbo wondering what the final guidance says and whether we'll qualify for any money back.

blunoz said...

Another data point on USAA's mortgage service here: