Dealing with my Errant Mortgage Company through Social Media

With interest rates continuing to drop to historic lows, many homeowners have been refinancing their mortgages.

My wife and I are through almost four refinances in the last five years.  Each time we lower the interest rate we save hundreds of dollars per month.  It’s not fun.  You need to provide them with complete financial records about assets, tax returns, whatever they dream up.  And they keep asking for more.  But we put up with a lot for the savings.

Like most people, we select the mortgage company based mainly on the rates.  Even saving 1/8% is significant.  You do have to be careful that they don’t tack on charges at the beginning as they love to do.  Usually the company turns around and sells the mortgage after a month or two.  Some of the mortgage companies don’t have their acts together.  The rate drops and they get hit with more applications than they can handle.  I figured I don’t really care if they are fly-by-night.  They are giving US the money and then we are paying them back.

A year ago we were refinancing.  It all went through, or seemed to go through.  We “closed” with the mortgage company and signed all the paperwork.  But then they didn’t pay off my existing mortgage as they were obligated to.  Huh?  We were in limbo, still owing mortgage payments to the previous mortgage firm but supposedly we were owing interest for the same days to the new firm.  The mortgage company was non-responsive.  My attorney said he had never heard of this.  I consulted another attorney and he hadn’t either.  They each said I could sue, but the amounts are small; life is too short to spend it dealing with lawyers.

I was looking for a Special Forces like surgical strike to resolve the issue.  Asymmetric warfare. I needed to think about my approach.  Did I want to take this public?  Or just resolve the matter in private, perhaps while threatening to take it public.  Did I want to complain to government agencies and Senator Warren’s office?  Threaten to complain?

Investigation on the web told me the mortgage firm was a private company but more investigation led me to the name of the CEO and the location of the headquarters of the company.  How could I reach the CEO?  No email address or phone.  But I did find him on LinkedIn.  So I messaged him through LinkedIn, asking him to make it right before I escalated the situation.  He didn’t respond.

Yet more midnight web investigation led me to the private equity firm that owned the mortgage company and then to the name of the partner with the mortgage company in his portfolio.  Then I found his listing on LinkedIn.  Solid gold!  What a wonderful guy he is, a bigshot in all these important charities!  I messaged him through LinkedIn.  Did he know how poorly run his mortgage company is?  I stuck to the facts and was very polite. It would be in all of our best interests if the problem were corrected very soon.  He didn’t want his partners in the private equity firm to be bothered with complaints about operating problems in the mortgage company or complaints to go to HUD or the Attorney General’s office.

Very early the next morning I received a personal call at home from the CEO of the mortgage company.  I believe he had received a call from the not too happy partner of the firm that owned his.  Remarkably soon it all was made right and we received extra compensation for our troubles.  They sold our mortgage within a month.  Now the rates are down and we are refinancing again.

Social media mavens, what were my options?  What would be the advantages and disadvantages of using Twitter?  Other options?

It seems like the consumer has unprecedented power, but it has to be used with greatest care and an eye for unintended consequences.

5 comments

  1. Great post! It’s amazing how resourceful you can be when you know where to look. Sounds like your determination and persistence paid off! I like your point on the power the consumer holds. Through social media, I’m sure there are several paths you could’ve led by going public about the mortgage company’s action’s, or lack thereof. I think social media can pull people off the ‘higher road’ and promote the ‘easy way out’. Had you gone public in the papers, news, Twitter, or elsewhere, do you think you would’ve had the same outcome? Maybe in the end, but I think it would’ve led to more trouble and inconvenience.

  2. Great Post Professor Gips! Really interesting how in a lot companies executive or management does not like dealing with complains etc and often let it go as long as the transaction was complete. SM has allowed individuals to reach other people that they need in a way that revolutionized how customer services should be handled. Now it makes it really difficult for employees to hide incidents like this from the executives as the consumer has ready access to the management. Great to see you posting Professor and I am glad that you were able to resolve issues like this quickly as I think you’re right! life is too short to deal with lawyers!

  3. Great post and really cool anecdote! It’s crazy how difficult it typically is to reach CEOs and high-level executives, but LinkedIn and other forms of social media has made these people more reachable and approachable. Social media also gives the everyday consumer much more power to reach the masses with their issues with companies, and makes companies have to be much more alert and aware of the issues facing every single customer. For example, with the United Breaks Guitars case, a disgruntled consumer was able to reach the masses and get the attention of the executives at United Airlines to fix his issues, something he probably could not have done without social media.

  4. I loved this post and thought it was a great example of what I think is the most important benefit of social media: its humanizing power. Your ability to find the CEO turned you into a real person, someone that the CEO needed to respond to immediately through informal and formal consumer response mechanisms. This gives us, the consumer, tremendous power, especially in times of need, as well as the producer, but only if the response is handled correctly, as we’ve seen time and time again in class.

  5. I really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing Professor Gips. As a student, I have had no experience with mortgages or anything or the sort, but what a great idea to reach out to the company via social media. Although I consider myself an avid social media user, I would not have thought to contact the managing PE firm via LinkedIn. You are correct in identifying the power gained by the consumer through social media, and it is neat to think about how it saved you money, time and stress as you did not have to pursue it legally. As for the best SM approach to this situation, I think LinkedIn was an excellent platform to use. Immediately when you sent the message to the PE partner he recognized your position in society by viewing your profile. Although we hope he would have dealt with situation accordingly no matter what, I think your LinkedIn profile definitely helped the cause. Twitter would have been another good approach primarily due to the bad publicity they would have received. However, I credit this success to the personal and professional nature of LinkedIn that does not exist on most platforms.

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