Thursday, November 29, 2007

Student Loan Status Update – the Continuing Saga

I’ve so far sent $1500 towards my student loan. $500 more will be sent tomorrow when I get paid. That will leave about $75. The lender will automatically remove $50 from my account on Monday as per our original consolidation agreement. Once that goes through I’ll be calling them to determine how to finish it off and close out the account. Woo hoo!


I’ve discussed previously how much I loathe Private Bank (pseudonym), which holds Hubby’s student loans. It’s reached a new level. I’m naming names.

Private Bank is Scotiabank.

I’m aware that some of the Canadians reading this probably love Scotiabank and hate TD. Or BMO, or Royal or CIBC. Everyone in Canada seems to have one of the Big Five that they refuse to deal with.

Scotiabank is mine. Here’s the latest reason.

We decided that we would use part of our emergency fund to get rid of the Provincial Loan (PSL) that is so irritating. Hubby called them to find out how to do so. After confirming his information and identity by putting him on hold after ever question (Last name? Please hold. Date of Birth? Please hold. Social Insurance Number? Please hold.) Chickie (who refused to give her actual first name, and so receives my arbitrary derogatory nickname) announces that it’s not possible to transfer funds directly to the PSL since those accounts are not online. Hubby points out that the consolidation forms state that they can automatically withdraw monthly payments from his account, therefore they should be able to withdraw the full amount from his account given his written permission. Hubby is informed that monthly payments can only be automatic if the chequing account is from Scotiabank.

Hubby is irritated but says that he will write a cheque, can he please be given the total amount of the loan including interest for the next three days? Chickie states that it’s not possible for her to determine what future interest will be. Hubby points out that they’re a bank and since their profits are tied to interest coming in it seems odd they’d be incapable of future projection. He asks what the daily interest was from yesterday, and says he’ll add that amount times five to the cheque.

He dropped the cheque off at a branch yesterday. The people at the branch had no access to his provincial loan accounts (since apparently they keep them securely locked in the Stone Age), so couldn’t process it themselves, but were kind enough to put his cheque, loan document and letter directing that the cheque be used to pay off the full amount into their interdepartmental mail. I have no quarrel with the people at that particular branch.

First issue solved, though with no help from Chickie.

Hubby then tries to set up payments on the much larger Canada Student Loan. This one sends out statements and is reportedly available to other banks. However Hubby had already tried to set up bill payments through our PC Financial account. Scotiabank CSLs were not one of the available bills. He called PC and was helped by Shaila, who said she’d be happy to set it up for us but Scotiabank had not supplied them with a merchant number for that type of account. If Hubby could have Scotiabank contact PC or get the merchant number from them himself, Shaila would arrange it.

Fast forward to Chickie. She laughed when Hubby asked why PC Financial didn’t have access to those accounts. Her response was that they only dealt with the other ‘old banks’ for these types of accounts. Apparently in her mind the old banks consist of Scotiabank, TD, and Royal.

I looked it up. The Bank of Montreal is older than any of those three, and all five of them (CIBC being the fifth) are over 140 years old if you don’t count name changes. Nice argument. Quite the snob for someone working phone support. Here’s a hint: If you’re going to be condescending, do try to at least have a clue what you’re talking about. It’ll make you appear merely rude instead of rude and stupid. Still, she’s right in saying that PC is a new bank. But since its services are run through CIBC, it should have access.

Hubby requested a merchant number for the account type and Chickie had no idea what he was talking about. She suggested that he open a Scotiabank chequing account and deal with the payments through it. Hubby valiantly refrained from telling her hell would freeze over first, and instead asked to speak to her manager since she couldn’t help him.

Chickie hung up on him at that point. I could understand if she hung up on me, because by that point I would have been rude, vulgar and belligerent. Hubby has infinitely more patience than I do, both through natural gifts and years of working IT phone support.

Anyway, what are we going to do?

We have a currently unused line of credit through TD, one of the two banks deemed worthy for Scotiabank CSLs to deal with. I’ll be sending payments to it from PC, and three days later sending payments from TD to Scotiabank. We won’t pay any interest on the line of credit, though we’ll lose out on the three days of interest from PC.

I’ll probably also draft a letter to their complaints department and cc Rick Waugh, the President and CEO. He deserves to know why we will never, ever get another service through his bank.

Good thing he’s 'richer than you think’, because I bet he won’t care in the slightest.


Wooly Woman said...

Oh my goodness that is so awful! And what a pain that you have to use multiple bank accounts just to make payments. I have the same kind of student loans and it is painful to deal with every time. What galls me is that they are so willing to take advantage of students (or former students) in this way. And that they don't realize that in doing so they are turning off potential customers completely. Good for you for sticking with it!

guinness416 said...

Aww, the frustration really comes through in this post. Illegitimatum non carborundum. Dealing with banks is often such an ordeal. My bank wouldn't take my RRSP money yesterday, so I can certainly sympathize.

(And I know you'll hate me for even typing this, but every time I run across a student-loan-nightmare post in the blogosphere, I thank mother earth or the god of passports or someone that I was born Irish).

Fecundity said...

@Wooly: You are very right. When I first started school there was a Scotiabank branch on campus, so I opened an account because it would be much more convenient. If they'd treated me well, they would have had a customer for life. They didn't.

I left and went to TD, who were much more helpful and pleasant. I've sinced switched my chequing and savings accounts to high interest, low fee, but my Visa, my line of credit and my RRSPs are all still with TD. If we could switch Hubby's student loan to them, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

So sorry to hear you have your own student loan banking issues.

@Guinness: I probably should have waited longer to cool down before posting (it's why I haven't written that letter yet), but it was quite cathartic.

Why on earth would your bank not take your RRSP money?

I don't hate you for being Irish and not having this issue. I'm a little bitter and jealous, but not hateful. ;)

Ita vero. Stercus accidit.

guinness416 said...

Because they didn't have anyone there qualified to put through an index fund purchase for me. But they would be happy to put all my cash into a 3 point something per cent GIC! And because they're a big useless bank :)