Monday, February 9, 2009

Redefining "Penny Wise and Pound Foolish"

TPM has this little gem on how Bank of America is dealing with the financial meltdown. It seems that even being dead doesn't release you from your obligations if those include a BofA credit card. Oh, and if you die owing a balance, you've contributed to the financial crises. So there.

What makes this worse is that it's apparently BofA policy to require payment from one's descendants in this sort of situation:

[W]e tracked down a former rep for Bank of America's collections unit. And according to the former rep, [the BofA representative] was doing just what she was told.

The former rep, who worked until quite recently at B of A's Belfast, Maine-based collections unit, described... a system in which staffers responsible for making collections were routinely encouraged to mislead customers or those calling on their behalf, and were financially incentivized to do all they could to get payments.

[The] reported conversation, the former rep said, "sounds like how I would have attempted to collect" in such a situation. "I would have asked: 'How do you plan on paying for this?'"

The rep said that employees were encouraged to walk right up to the line of actively deceiving a caller about the consequences of non-payment. "As long as you don't get caught [lying]," the former rep added, "there's no really no punishment." The former rep did not work in the estates unit, but confirmed, based on direct knowledge of B of A's practices, that it operates similarly to the former rep's own unit.

Bank of America, as a mortgage lender, has certainly suffered during the real estate crash, and having the moribund Merrill Lynch foisted on it didn't help matters. And certainly no lender should be scorned for doing its [legal] best to recover funds owed. But unsecured credit obligations cease with the demise of the borrower: that's the law. And blaming someone who passed on owing (in this case) less than $1000 for your enterprise's far larger financial woes takes guilt beyond the Pale.

1 comment:

  1. That's just disgusting... and not at all surprising, sad to say.