This bank is a pretty big outfit — regionally, anyway. They're not Chase or Citibank, though, or anything of that size. (The loan for my 1995 Nissan truck, oh-so-long-ago, was through Chase. I was pretty happy with them for the duration of the loan.)
For starters, I had to actually call New Bank to get my hands on a payment book. We bought the car on December 19th, I think, and as of January 24th, we'd not received so much as a statement from the loaning institution. So that day I made a phone call to our selling dealer, got the bank's 800-number, and gave them a ring.
Their rep, Kevin, assured me that they'd already sent the payment book. Fine, except that we'd been looking for it intently, and it hadn't shown up. So I asked Kevin to mail us another book. As well as whatever documentation would be necessary to initiate automatic monthly deductions from my checking account. And just for kicks, when was our first payment due?
"January 19th," he told me. "But you have a 10-day grace period."
Fantastic. And does it cause problems if I send extra principal payments with my normal payments for the first few months?
"Don't do that," was the reply. "We have another address for those."
So I took down that address. (Within a couple of hours, I had rocketed a check to the post office to make that first payment.)
"One more thing," I asked him. "I've visited your website, so I know you guys have online banking. Does that mean I'll have online access to my auto-loan account?"
"No. Those accounts are not online."
Again, fantastic. Now if I want to check my up-to-the-minute balance, I'm relegated to punching numbers into my phone and listening to The World's Most Eerily Pleasant Voice give me that info. Once more, Life had bestowed upon me yet another reason or two to hate debt.
You Want Some Dumbass With That?
Fast forward to January 30th. We're now past the 10-day grace period Kevin had told me about. Still my check has not cleared my bank. Time for another phone call.
After checking my loan balance via their automated system (it's still at the original balance, of course), I get patched through to Kevin again. Can he tell me whether they've received my check?
"Uhhh ... yeah. Looks like we don't have it."
"Okay," I said. "Can I make some sort of over-the-phone payment now? And when you guys get my check, you can just put it toward principal?"
"You can give us an electronic check over the phone, yes," he told me. "But there's a charge."
Of course there's a charge. These guys have to find a way to stay in business, right?
"And," he continued, "once we get your paper check, it will go just toward your next payment. Not principal."
"Fine," I sighed. "Put me through to whomever does the instant-check thing."
Which happened to be Cheryl. Cheryl was pretty nice, I suppose. But it wasn't her niceness that made me remember her, nor the fact that she charged me $7.95 to do what amounts to an ACH debit that most institutions do for bare-butt free. No, what keeps her fresh in my mind is the fact that she told me:
1) ...Well, OF COURSE I will have online access to my loan account;
2) ...Yes, mailing extra payments along with regular payments creates difficulties for them, but if I do an extra payment along with the charged-for "instant payment," it works out just fine;
3) ...No, the address that Kevin gave me for mailing extra payments wasn't the correct one.
Is this working out well or what? She kindly tells me what the correct address is SUPPOSED to be. I get some info regarding the setup of my online account access, and that's that.
The next day, January 31, I mailed a check for extra payment toward my principal. I mailed it to the address Cheryl gave me. I enclosed a letter with all my pertinent account info, and on that letter, I stated that I wanted the proceeds to be credited toward the outstanding principal on my auto loan.
It is now February 8. That check has not yet posted to my loan account. It has not yet cleared my bank. Keep in mind: We're not talking about cross-country travel here. I live in Oklahoma, and I mailed the check to Illinois. I did exactly as Cheryl instructed.
Yes, indeed. I hate debt.