hell hath no fury like a woman scorned

March 26th, 2009

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned

Or instead of scorned, her family harassed.  Something like that.  I think I’ve turned into the ultimate Mama Bear at this point, even when it is not my kids I am protecting.  Consider this a warning to anyone who’s bought a life insurance policy as part of a loan they’ve taken out (car, mortgage, etc).  I’m not saying not to do it – but what I am saying is that in this economy, it may cause you a lot of problems and headaches trying to actually collect on it before the loan is put into collections.  Indeed.

As you all know, my father passed away in January.  He and my brother co-owned a car together that was financed through GMAC financing.  When my father got the car loan, the dealership (which, by the way, my dad worked for) sold him a life insurance policy on the loan that if he died before the car was paid off (it is a five year loan) that the car would be paid off by the policy.  My dad was obsessive about paying bills ahead of time, so when he died on January 19th, the January 28th payment to GMAC had already been paid.  We started the process on collecting this life insurance policy to pay off the car, and went on with things.  By February 28th, when the next payment was due, the life insurance claim was still “in process” (through a third party company the dealership contracted with to do life insurance) and we had turned in, according to them, all the paperwork and information we needed to, but they were still processing the claim.  We also sent GMAC, at their request, a copy of the death certificate.  Twice actually, because the first time I faxed it they… lost it.  Yeah.  Okay.

Then 2 weeks ago, GMAC billing sends a letter to my mother telling her that the account is overdue.  So I take the information from the letter, and call GMAC billing.  They apologize and put a note on the account.  Supposedly.

Then yesterday GMAC collections calls my brother at work to harrass him about paying.  First off, even if the account was overdue, it isn’t even 30 days overdue.  And really, it isn’t overdue.  Why sell someone a life insurance policy if they aren’t supposed to actually use it.  So, first I call GMAC billing.  They tell me there’s a note on the account already.  Then I call GMAC Claims (where I sent the death certificate) and they tell me, oh, look, the account is in collections, and give me that number (why billing couldn’t tell me that, who knows).  So I call collections, which is a third party company by the way called Superior Credit.  They won’t even talk to me.  I can’t get a supervisor who can do anything on the phone and eventually they hang up on me.  Undeterred, I first call the life insurance company (Central States Health and Life Co of Omaha) to confirm that there is nothing more we can do other than wait for them to move faster, and then I call GMAC billing back.  And that is where the real fun begins.

I talk to person #1 and tell them I want billing to call collections and get them to leave us alone.  They tell me that billing can’t call collections, there is no way for the billing deparment to contact the collections department.  I ask them how the account ever got to collections if billing didn’t send it there.  After some hemming and hawing, they move me up the chain to a “Quality Assurance Specialist”. The Quality Assurance Speciatist basically gives me the same story, and keeps saying “there’s a note on the account, we know there is a pending claim” but obviously, I point out, that isn’t stopping them from harrassing us.  So they move me up the chain.  I then talk to an “Executive Customer Service Associate” and get the same exact story.  I tell them to give me the next person, and that I’ll continue until I get the actual person who sent it to collections, if that is what it takes.  At that point, I’m transferred to their manager.

The Executive Account Service Manager, magically, can actually contact collections.  Wow.  They must have super powers, because I was assured that billing had no way of doing that, but yet they can.  Heh.  After being put on hold for about 10 minutes (I got to listen to three soft rock ballads on the hold tape, so I figure about ten minutes), they come back and tell me that they talked to the collections manager and our account has been pulled from the collections report so we should not be called again.

Hey!  You can do that?  You mean all your underlings who said that billing has no authority over making collections do anything were… wrong?  How about that.

Who knows what will actually happen in regards to collections continuing to harrass my family – what is said to you versus what is actually done are two different things.  But just be aware – if you get one of those life insurance policies on a loan – it may be a lot of work for your heirs to actually enforce it if push comes to shove.  Not that I think, at all, that you shouldn’t get a policy if you want to.  Just be prepared for someone to fight for what you are due.   Less than 30 days after a “missed” payment, they’re already sending it to a collection agency.  A sign of our economic times, indeed.

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31 Responses to “Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned”

  1. Hi! I’ve read your blog for a while now and love it. Sorry to hear about your father passing.

    Just wanted to say that GMAC bought a house loan I have a few years back, and I hate calling them. They can be the rudest people I have ever talked to on the phone. Good luck getting anything done with them. I have been told so many wrong things and given attitude by them so many times, I cannot wait for the dang house to sell so that I never have to talk to them again!

  2. Love this story. And it’s told so crisply and cogently.

  3. Way to go! Glad you were able to find someone who could actually do something! I think they hope that people will just give up and just believe the “underlings” when they say they can’t call billings. Glad you posted your story, but sorry about your loss.

    God bless,

  4. My blood pressure just went up. I hate how companies think it’s a legitimate business model to frustrate people to the point they give up their claim. It pisses me off.

    My next course of action would be to contact the Consumerist to get more national exposure, then off to small claims court to get a legal solution to the matter.

  5. Jennifer B Says:

    March 26th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Just gotta love the runaround you got. I firmly believe that companies like this count on some people just giving up and paying in figuring out their profit predictions.

    You probably did this already, but wanted to point out for everyone else that you should keep the name of EVERY person that you spoke to at GMAC, their collections company and the Life Insurance Company, because next month chances are your account is going to show up on the delinquent list AGAIN and you’ll have to go through this all again.

    If possible, also try to get an e-mail address for the person who finally told you they were taking care of the matter, and send a confirming e-mail. If you can’t get them to divulge an e-mail address, then send a letter (certified, return receipt) with a confirmation of what was discussed and agreed. Otherwise, when you have to go through this again next month, you will be starting from Ground Zero again.

  6. You are so awesome, PaidTwice! Way to totally kick ass. I’ve got life insurance on my loans and I think I might just stick a copy of this post in with my paperwork.

  7. Great job documenting the runaround! This might be worth sending to the Consumerist as well, it sounds like the kind of story they’d post…and it’d have an even broader reach.

    Hope everything works out right now that you’ve straightened it out. It’s crazy that they’d have a note and still send you to claims.

  8. It’s great to know that GMAC got bailout $$.

  9. Not surprising at all, unfortunately.

    A suggestion: Make sure your brother and mother watch their credit reports so that if this shows as a late payment you can get it removed.

    Of course that would be another huge PITA…

  10. I enjoy reading your website. I am sorry your family is having such problems with something that should be simple. At this point, I would recommend to start a paper trail of letter writing. Also, depanding on what State your father lived in, there has got to be a state insurance commissioner to complain to. I think there must be a limit on how long they can hold up the life insurance money on this policy. Meanwhile, take steps to protect your mother against GMAC collection phone calls, etc. and also against the estate. Once you get the insurance money paid on this loan, be sure to transfer the car title out of the GMAC name to just your family members right away.

  11. I feel very sad and angry just hearing about this nonsensical situation.

    Good for you for being very persistent and getting the answer you needed. I will keep my fingers crossed for you that it really was pulled from collections as GMAC says it was and that everything works out very soon with the insurance policy.

    Thank you very much for sharing your story with all of us.

  12. Must-Be-Squeaky Wheel! I’m sure GM[AC] is being as obstructive and stingy as possible right now! Gak.

  13. Oh My Gosh…Way to go! I agree with the above post about starting a paper trail. This whole thing about them turning it into collections is just plain wrong. I wish the best for all of you, and really appreciate your post. I, too, am going to make a copy of your article and put it in with my auto papers just-in-case this happens to me!

  14. I have had similar experiences with GMAC. We bought a new car from them in August last year. I was “late” by 1 day of making the November payment, which is due on the 29th. On November 30th, the collections department was calling 3 or 4 times a day. The next month it was the same thing, they called 3 or 4 times a day, even after a week after the payment had been made. I told the collection agent on the phone, and anyone else who listens not to buy from GM because of this. Great customer service from a struggling company. I say let them fold up shop and maybe they can start getting collection calls for “late” payments.

  15. Isn’t it amazing that when you stick to your guns and demand resolution, someone will eventually give it. When I trained customer service agents, we taught them to look for a solution and we gave them the authority to make that solution work. I hate being told that “it’s policy” or “we can’t do that”. It’s a real hot button for me.

  16. Shelby Matero Says:

    March 27th, 2009 at 11:24 am

    You go, girl. You have helped me over the past year so many times, I can’t even count anymore. Your writing style is clear….your efforts to document everything clearly….you’ve helped me get through some BS with various creditors, too.

    Anyway, keep up the fight…boy oh boy, is it ever worth it.

  17. Learning the ropes Says:

    March 27th, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Wow! you really do get things done. Kudos to you!!!
    Your mom is really lucky to have you to straighten things out for her.

  18. You need to write the CEO of GMAC. Do not call or email. Write a letter detailing in concise points the dates, names, etc., info told to you. And what you want done (to know when the ins co will pay off and you want to know that this has not be reported to the credit bureaus, etc.) Letters to the head of a co, while not necessarily read by that person, do make their way to the attention and desk of someone empowered to take action.
    Good Luck.

  19. You sound very assertive. Good for you! I wish I were more like that. I am always so nervous about calling people, especially when I know the people I’m calling are going to try very, very hard to ignore me or put me off.

  20. Horrendous story. Luckily not everybody gets the runaround like that but you really knew how to keep pushing through until you got at least part of what you wanted.

    I have to say that there was not a problem like this 27 years ago when my father passed away. My mother was able to get the mortgage paid out quite easily with the mortgage life insurance. I mean, there’s always paperwork and there were multiple life insurance policies (work, regular life, life insurance on the mortgage) to deal with but it was all pretty straightforward as I recall. It took a little time but there were no nasty glitches like in this case.

    I hope it’s straightened out, but be prepared that it may not be and you may get to do this all again. I liked the suggestions that you write to the state insurance commissioner and to the CEO of GMAC.

  21. “Why sell someone a life insurance policy if they aren’t supposed to actually use it.”


  22. I’m sorry, I’m sure I’m just being dense here, but I’ve read this post a couple of times over the past few days and I still don’t get it.

    Doesn’t your brother, in fact, owe GMAC money on the car? And hasn’t he, in fact, missed a payment? I understand that there is an insurance settlement in the works, which is nice, but GMAC isn’t the insurance company, is it? Am I missing something? In my obviously confused state it seems to me that you are getting awfully indignant about somebody asking to be paid money that’s owed them.

  23. Or you could print out THIS ENTIRE BLOG and send IT, certified, to GMAC’s president. Maybe it wouldn’t be impossible to find his/her home address either?

  24. Whoa, PT. That’s a crazy story. I’m glad justice was finally done.

  25. I was feeling sorry for myself today because I still have a long journey ahead. After reading your tale I feel much better. Persistence pays. We have to look out for our families. Thanks for sharing your story.


  26. @ Frank Curmudgeon – no, my brother does not owe GMAC money for the car. The car loan is in my father’s name, and my father’s name only. The insurance policy, although yes not GMAC’s itself, was purchased through GMAC, by GMAC, at the same time the car loan was purchased, through their carrier.

    You could, it you’d like, make a case for my father’s estate owing GMAC money (whereby it’d be my mom that’s late, not my brother) if, well, my dad hadn’t been paying GMAC every month (as part of his financing) a life insurance premium. They were happy to collect that every month from him.

    This isn’t a separate life insurance policy sold separately that he obtained on his own – this is a policy sold to him specifically for the car loan as part of his GMAC financing.

  27. I think you should submit this story to Consumerist.

  28. Sorry you have to deal with this. There have been several news articles lately featuring this very phenomenon. Apparently the creditors have set up special bureaus of representatives who only call relatives of the deceased to collect payment. They do not tell them that they are not legally obligated to pay their dead relatives bills, they just try to guilt them into it. Shameful, really.

  29. I had a similar experience with Mitsubishi Motor Credit about 10 years ago. I mailed my payment in, which was received by them on time. The check was damaged in the mail in route to their office with the signature being shredded. They mailed the check back to me with a letter explaining that I would need to submit a new check to them. No problem so far, except for two things. First – I had traded in the car, which the dealership had paid off (including an amount covering the missing payment). Second – collections started calling me the day before I received the check back from them, having no idea that I had attempted to pay, they received my attempt, and returned it to me. I continued to receive phone calls for a few months, even after the payoff had been received, because the missed payment was still “in collections.” I also found that the different departments would not communicate to solve this simple problem. I only resolved the situation by sending a certified to the president of MMC. Ridiculous!

  30. I was a loyal customer of GMAC for about 13 years and when I suffered some financial woes and had to file bankruptcy, I kept my Pontiac G6 out of it. It was paid on time and when it was time to end the lease and get a new one, GMAC just screwed me. They would not approve another car for me. They were bailed out and got a second chance, why couldn’t I? They are
    a bunch of A-Holes


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