It’s one for the books, alright. At least for someone’s book, maybe even for my book if I ever get around to writing it.
In my job as a real estate paralegal, I try really hard to keep my clients happy and to make the sale process as painless as possible. Recently, I’ve been working with a client who is selling his mother’s house because mom is now in assisted living. The client lives in another state and is dealing with the household issues as best he can.
There’s an open home equity line of credit on the house, and apparently my client doesn’t have the money to keep making the monthly payments. It wouldn’t have been as much of an issue if the sale had closed when it was supposed to – but due to New York’s recently changed banking laws, every single deal I handle gets delayed by the buyer’s mortgage lender. Sometimes the delay runs into weeks or even months, rather than days.
Thus, my client has been receiving calls from the bank that holds the home equity loan on his mother’s house. Sure, he sent them the sale contract, and sure he assures them on every call that closing is imminent and the loan will be paid off in full, but they want their money now. They have begun threatening collection litigation.
The client called me and asked if I could maybe call the lender and explain that the sale will, in fact, be closing soon. He had the name and direct phone number of the last person he spoke with in the collection department. Sure, I said, I could do that; maybe it would help, maybe not, but I would make the effort.
So, I got on the phone. I called the direct phone number and reached the same person with whom my client had previously spoken. Let’s call the collection person Gary simply for the sake of having a name, even a fictitious name. (Hey, gotta protect the guilty, right?).
I was very pleased that Gary spoke real English – in fact, he seemed to be based right here in my very own country! Maybe even on the same coast, judging by his mid-Atlantic accent. Maybe this was one of the good banks which actually cares about its customers!
Gary had no idea whatsoever why I was calling him. He had no memory of ever speaking with my client and no recollection of ever dealing with this particular home equity loan. In fact, he doesn’t even handle home equity loans! Gary seemed to have a bit of an attitude and, judging from the sighs, appeared to have already had a long, stressful day dealing with lunatic paralegals and idiotic customers. But in an effort to appease me, he would transfer me to the home equity servicing department and was sure they could assist me.
Gary put the call on hold, or so he said. I waited and waited – and waited, through the silence. Or was it silent? I could hear papers being shuffled and someone breathing, and I swear an occasional sound of chewing came across the phone line. After about 10 minutes, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and asked “Are you still there?”
The response came in a little old-lady voice: “Yes, I’m still here.”
“Is this the home equity department?” I asked.
The old-lady voice replied, “Is this the bank?”
You might have guessed where this was going – Gary had somehow managed to connect my call to another incoming call. The lunatic paralegal and idiotic customer were, in fact, talking to each other!
What a spectacular idea! Have the stupid callers complain to one another while the customer (dis)service representative sits back and laughs, or suddenly decides it’s time for his coffee or cigarette break.
I’d like to give poor Gary the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was so tired that he simply made an error. But really, how do you manage to connect two incoming callers accidentally? I can’t even do a conference call when it’s necessary. I usually manage to drop at least one of the lines while trying to conference in the other.
What do you think? Was Gary sly like a fox, or merely incompetent?
Soon, very soon, I will have another, even better, customer (dis)service story. Stick around.
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Images by Cordelia’s Mom