Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Automated Phone System Hell

I don't want to keep you in suspense, so I'll start at the end. My first phone call yesterday to my lender, PHH, didn't go anywhere. I'm supposed to call back today.

Let me tell you what happened. Just the thought of doing this again is enough to give me hives. I called the toll-free number and was given a choice of services. What, no option for those requesting a moratorium on their interest rate hike?! Then it asked me to input my loan number and last four digits of my SS number. Yes, by now I have tried to press the zero five times. It ignored my requests. I listened as it recited my last payment date, next payment due date, interest rate, and principal balance ("this is not a pay-off balance"). The zero is still not working! Rrrgh!

After the automated information was completed, it asked me to press one to "confirm" the information. It all sounded accurate to me, so, like an idiot, I pressed one. I listened to an ad that promotes PHH e-mail alerts and waited . . . only to be sent right back to the repetition of the information that I was just given. I think I broke my zero button because it was completely ineffective.

Now that I had all of my pertinent loan particulars committed to memory, I smartened up and ignored the prompt to "confirm" the information again. This segued into additional menu options, which finally allowed me to talk to a representative by pressing zero--which was now miraculously operable. By now I need a nap, but I still have to be coherent enough to make my request. Sandra greets me by asking for the last four digits of my social security number. She knows who I am. She knows the loan number that I'm calling about. She knows that I've input my last four digits already. But they just have to ask one more time, don't they?

"Ahem, yes, I would like to speak to someone about freezing the rate on my adjustable loan mortgage. So, what is the process for making this request?"

Sandra told me that I need to address this with someone in the Adjustable ARM Department. Gee, a whole department. But they close at 5:00. Oops, it's 2:15 my time, but after banking hours on the East Coast. I asked her to give me a direct line to this department as I had no intention of visiting hell two days in a row. She was kind enough to give me the extension number, which I will be able to input immediately after the phone connects. We'll see. I hope to write another post about this later today.