Sunday, October 29, 2017

"totally put out" with Navy Federal Credit Union's mortgage loan department

Navy Federal Credit Union boasts that they are the "largest credit union in the world with over 7 million members". Try to reach nfcu through their universal 888-842-6328 phone number and you'll believe it. Navigating through their automated voice-recorded menu (without an option to speak to a live person) and listening to hours of "elevator music" while you hold for the destination makes one think that all 7+ million members are trying to reach nfcu at the same time. Add to that a "daisy chain" of forwarding calls that eventually leads to a rapid-fire "leave a message" recording of names and 5-digit extension numbers. You leave a message and no one returns your call--totally frustrating.

You apply for the mortgage loan by phone. There are many detailed questions. You don't fully understand some of the questions, and you ask questions. You still don't fully understand, but in the interest of time, you move on. You are told that a loan officer will contact you within 48 hours--that doesn't happen. it's back to 888-842-6328.

* one of the questions for which we didn't receive an adequate answer from nfcu is: what is the $10,527 "VA funding fee" in our loan? so, we googled the question: VA Funding Fee - Who Pays What and Why"The VA Funding Fee is a set fee applied to every purchase loan or refinance. The proceeds go directly to the VA and help cover losses on the few loans that go into default."
clear enough. MUCH clearer than the gobbledygook that we got from nfcu.
so, let me get this straight. I, as a veteran who doesn't default on his loans, has to pay for other veterans who default on their loans. that's like being told that you have to pay for a deadbeat who bolted out of a restaurant before you got there without paying his check. what? does that make sense to you? me neither.

we received 22 emails from 10 different nfcu email addresses in 6 days asking for more and more information. we were left to figure out nfcu's software on our own, including e-documents and their secure document uploading system. we spent hours and hours researching and uploading documents. Then the loan officer says: "I can't find them". what do you want me to do? explain to you how to use your own software? 

it's a maze of: 
- being passed from person to person 
- seemingly never ending requests for more personal information 
- a myriad of too many instructions for some things and too few instructions, no instructions or conflicting instructions for others 
- a phone system and employees who play "hide-and-seek"

At the end of the first week I spoke with a mortgage loan supervisor--when she finally returned my call. She said all the right things--in fact, so much so that it was difficult for me to get a word in edgewise. She said that nfcu would fix it. They didn't. at the end of the second week I called again. more time wasted on 888-842-6328 and more hours waiting for my call to be returned. when my call finally was returned, I got more of the same thing--lots of talk, including "we'll fix it." how confident am I that it will be fixed? not so much.

nfcu mortgage department employees and supervisors are tone deaf when it comes to the needs and concerns of their customers. supervisors are particularly hard to reach by phone. when we call, they can't be found. it took hours for our phone calls to be returned. then, when we tried to explain our problem, the nfcu mortgage loan supervisor argued that we didn't have a problem. needless to say, arguing with customers doesn't promote good will and repeat business.

when we asked for an estimate as to when our mortgage loan would be approved or disapproved, they said that they can't give us an estimate. what? when you take your car to be serviced or repaired, or when you hire a contractor to do some work on your house, do the vendors give you an estimate of when the work will be done? of course they do! not nfcu mortgage loan department! 

savvy businesspeople assign a single person for the customer to contact about their job. nfcu passed us from person to person which, as any good businessperson knows, is not the best way to serve customers. 

nfcu's employees, including supervisors, were tone deaf to our concerns of having to move all of our belongings from the house that we are renting to the new house in one month or less, during December, when the weather can be poor. During the December holidays, employees in many businesses are on leave. This is particularly true in rural areas where some businesses, such as movers, completely shut down during the holidays. 

to move our loan application forward as quickly as possible, we repeatedly requested that we be called if anything more was needed from us. when we asked a nfcu loan processor if there was anything that she needed from us, she answered "yes--there is more information that I need from you". Why didn't she call us as we previously requested repeatedly? answer: tone deaf.

nfcu insists that they're "doing everything possible to move your loan forward as fast as possible". not true. 
- nfcu says "a loan officer will contact you within 48 hours". it doesn't happen. 
- nfcu insists that they're not passing us from person to person even though they are. 
- nfcu tells us that they will update us weekly. it doesn't happen.
- when we ask nfcu to let us know when there's anything that we can do to unplug a logjam (title binder), nfcu doesn't contact us. 
nfcu tells us what a great job that they're doing; but, the facts show otherwise. what nfcu says that they're going to do is quite different from what they actually do (nothing). but, there's no point in voicing our concerns--it's like talking to a wall. 

nfcu could easily:
- modify their 888 842-6238 voice-recorded menu to add an "if you wish to speak to a (live) nfcu representative" option
- add a "the current 'wait time' is ___ minutes (or hours)" and a nfcu "call back" option
- post on their website a description of the VA loan application process, including a glossary of terms and average time for each step
- post a FAQ for VA loans, and a "contact us" for questions not answered by FAQ
- assign a single mortgage department person as contact person for customers whose loan applications are being processed
- train mortgage department employees to be customer oriented 
- monitor mortgage loan dept. performance, e.g. (1) when nfcu says "your mortgage loan officer will contact you within 48 hours", and this doesn't happen, then take necessary steps to make sure that this doesn't happen again, (2) make sure that customer calls to the mortgage loan department are a priority--that the nfcu employee who they are calling is available most of the time to take their call, and, if not, that their call is returned promptly, (3) train mortgage loan department employees to take customer concerns seriously, etc.

frankly, it's surprising to me that these easy improvements weren't made long ago, and continuously monitored, and updated as necessary.

I admit that my wife and I didn't give our mortgage lender much thought: 
1. nfcu has been our bank for 31+ years--savings account, checking account, etc.
2. I'm a veteran.
3. we have excellent credit.
4. we're not new to buying and selling houses--in our 50+ years being married, this will be our 4th.

this loan should have been relatively easy--not so. if we had it all to do over again, then we wouldn't have used nfcu for our mortgage loan. needless to say, we would never consider using them again. and, if anyone asked us about our experience with nfcu, then we'd tell them the truth.

nfcu's mortgage loan dept. makes f troop look like a precision drill team.

receiving my soldier of the year award
from the assistant commandant, United States
Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, GA, 1970

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