Legal Robbery?

Like every other day, I check out my bank account to make sure everything is fine. Usually everything ends up fine, but yesterday wasn’t one of those days. Seeing a “-$490” dropped my jaw to the basement. Not the floor, the basement floor. How could this have happened?! My heart raced, oh what happened? Though it scared me, I needed to see what happened. I looked, and realized I shouldn’t be scared; I needed anger. And boy was I livid beyond extreme.

My monthly check I send to Sallie Mae for one of my many student loans was cashed. I’ve heard horror stories about people who set up automatic withdrawals from their bank accounts to their loan companies. So, most bills I pay online but with my student loans I take care that I sign the checks myself. Now, I realize why. They had cashed my $51.62 payment, and somehow between me sending the check and them depositing it, my check became a $516.62 check. I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

My first instinct was to call my husband to have him talk to the bank. My second instinct was to call them up and try being calm about being overdrawn as a result of their error. (Note: I did try being calm.) So I speak to a guy, obviously someone not in this country anywhere near the PA office I send my checks dutifully to. He comforted me, assuring me that he would start the process for a refund. A process for you to refund my money? You didn’t need to go through some lengthy process to steal my money, but I need to go through one to get it back? I fail to see the logic of this. If it took you 2 days to screw it up, I shouldn’t need to wait 10-20 days to get it fixed. This wouldn’t do.

Luckily, my bank is amazing. “Would you like to fill out an unauthorized withdrawal to get your money back today?” You bet I would. In fact, that would make me happier than you can imagine today. And with a swift sign of my name, every cent returned to my account. That wasn’t enough for me though, causing me to call the company back. I wouldn’t settle for less than a supervisor. I rescinded my refund with them, making sure I stated that my back was taking my money back from them. I also restated many times that this better not happen again. One can hope it doesn’t.

This led me to visit lovely Google to see if anyone else had this problem. Not surprisingly, thousands of posts on forums about how loan companies constantly screw over the people they lend to. Luckily I can afford my payments, though I’m well aware that paying them monthly doesn’t reduce the payments at all. It’s abhorrent they get away with this. I don’t think anyone likes that they can pay loans their entire life, to not be able to even dent your loan amount. Sorry, not your loan amount, the obscene amount that ends up after you get the loan when they tally up interest. And these are the companies that needed the bail outs.

It’s sickening that I have a $25,000 loan with one company, which really ends up being far more than that as interest. Even worse, I don’t even remember agreeing to a Sallie Mae loan. I feel ripped off. I feel like my money is stolen from me only worse; they can legally do this to me. It’s heartbreaking to see some of these people and their stories. They can’t get a job, and let’s face it, not many can in this economy; but now they have student loans that they can do absolutely nothing about but get harassed. You can’t file for bankruptcy to get rid of them. You really can’t do a thing to make them act less cruel. You can’t really do anything about them. They can just do what they do, and keep doing it because no one will stop them.

In reading all this, I came across this website (http://www.studentloanjustice.org/ ) and read about how they want to make the public aware of this. To me, this is a grassroots organization worth following. I don’t care about paying my loan. I care that they can steal money, and screw up credit without repercussions, even if the person didn’t do anything wrong. I also care that when you want help, all you get are rude people who don’t listen to you. Hell, I would’ve even just taken an apology for them and their $500 screw up.

That’s when it hit me. It’s not just about the idea of being robbed blind helplessly; a lot has to do with the people robbing you. It seems to leave less of a bitter taste in your mouth when the person at least apologizes, and not making you feel like you did something wrong. Maybe if they showed some sort of compassion of how they ruined your day and how maybe they need to be calm instead of rude or snotty sounding. Customers want to know that someone is listening without them having the urge to yell to get heard. Especially if those customers are well aware of the fact that no one will regulate the companies that are essentially scamming them. I would like to see a thief steal stuff from your house, and turn it around on you saying “maybe you shouldn’t have nice things, and I wouldn’t steal them”. The thieves wouldn’t get away with it, why should these loan companies.

I understand, the reason these companies make money is the large amount of interest you have to pay. I understand that any loan has interest on it. I’m not an economy major, but I know the reality. But somehow, car loans stay in business and you don’t look at your bill going “well, I started off with a $20,000 loan and now I end up with a $40,000 one”. And if you can’t pay it? They either repo your car or you file bankruptcy and keep it. You don’t get this option for student loans, and that seems vile to me.

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