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Alfred Gingold Headshot

THE WEASEL BLINKS

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Readers of my recent posts know that my wife and I are locked in combat with our mortgage bank, which persists in creating false penalties to add to our mortgage bill. Last week, the day after the receipt from our certified letter to Jamie Dimon returned to us, we received a voice mail from Heather Yomboro of the Chase Home Finance Executive Office. Actually, she lavished two calls on us, which we couldn't return until the next day, by which time a Fedex from Heather had appeared under our door to the effect that if she did not hear back from us, Chase would assume the matter closed. After three months of studiously ignoring us, the Weasel demands action.

In 2008, the last time we wrote to Mr. Dimon, the fixer assigned to our case came from the Chase Executive Resolution Committee, which still sounds to me like a branch of the East German Secret Police, and indeed, our fixer would've been right at home in the Stasi, her humorless manner balanced between cool politesse and infuriating snottiness. Fortunately, I noticed that she bristled at being called Ma'am, so I called her Ma'am every chance I got.

Chase's Executive Office must be a pleasanter place that its Executive Resolution Committee; at least Heather Yomboro is a good deal pleasanter than Ms. Stasi was. She bore the good news that our September mortgage payment was finally accepted and our fraudulent late penalties removed. To our astonishment, she apologized on behalf of the bank for sticking us with the neighbor's water bill and acknowledged that the Tax Department "jumped the gun" on our July tax payment, paying it before it was due so we could be escrowed for being late. I pointed out that this is not the first time Chase has pulled this stunt, not even the second. She apologized for that too. Apologized! Be still my heart.

But even if Heather Yomboro is pleasant and courteous, she is still a Chase employee, so I was wary. And it turned out that the real reason for her call was that the bank is out of pocket for those improper tax payments. The NYC Tax Office, bless its stony heart, won't return their dough, simply crediting the funds toward our tax bill. So, Heather said, we must return those funds to Chase. Alternatively, she suggested, we could call the NYC Tax Office and persuade them to return Chase's money, then pay in our taxes ourselves.

Not a chance. Can you imagine the length of the phone tree I'd have to wait through in order to plead the bank's case? Well, Heather opined, "the real problem here is that the city won't return our money to us." I reminded her that the real problem here is her employer's relentless greed and procedural sloppiness. Heather reminded me that, heck, a bank is really nothing more than a group of individuals who occasionally make, you know, mistakes. If you say so, Heather, although I'm inclined to see your bank, at least, as a sinister cadre of weasels devoted to nicking every penny it can get by tooth, claw or sleaze.

I told Heather that before we would even consider paying Chase the money it can't get back from the city, we require a written statement of what we had discussed, included a listing of the various ways the bank attempted to defraud us: the water bill, the premature tax payment, the cooked up penalties. She agreed readily.

That was six days ago and no such letter has arrived. However, Chase did send us a check for eighteen bucks, compensation for the certified letters we sent to Jamie et al. I'd mentioned the cost of those letters to Heather and that our other attempt to get Chase's attention had failed. They sent us the check without even a receipt from us (good thing too because I still can't find it). It was a nice gesture, much more convincing than the Weasel's customary sign-off, which graces this letter too: "Chase's goal is to provide the highest level of quality service." Nice, but I doubt the sincerity.

As a public service, we offer some advice for all who have issues with Chase Home Weasel: Don't bother with the indifferent lugnuts of Customer Care or the unscrupulous bean-counters of the Tax Department. Write directly to Jamie Dimon himself, certified mail. In our experience, it's the only way there is to get the bank's attention, and he's probably got time on his hands now that he's sold his house. Here's his contact info:

Jamie Dimon
JP Morgan Chase & Co.
270 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
jamie.dimon@jpmchase.com
Phone: 212-270-1111
Fax : 212-270-1121

Meanwhile, we await Chase's next missive while, of course, paying our mortgage on time.