Them’s Fightin’ Words: Part 2 Stuck in a Loop

I’m boring myself, just writing this down.

Last week I was enraged after the awesome gift package that was delivered by way of an $1100 add-on to our mortgage bill.  This week, I’ve spent the better part of my ‘free time’ obsessively staring at loan documents, emails, and statements to understand why our bill was so much more per month.

Turns out we’d received a few emails in the past month from a company with the website, and a request for correspondence to go through the “Research Department”.  There was no other information included in this email other than this nondescript information, so we ignored it and assumed it was a phishing scam.  After a bit of fine-tooth combing, I figured out that they were legitimate emails by matching the address in New Jersey with the address on our mortgage statement.  Our mortgage company is called Cenlar, so I have no idea why the website and ‘Research Department’ are named as they are.

In my last post, I thought that the added cost on our mortgage statement was somehow connected to the construction that we are doing and that we were being charged on our property taxes for the anticipated square footage that we will be adding to the house. This outraged me. I was dejected by the idea that we could be charged this much more per month when we actually haven’t even completed the construction or been properly permitted for this square footage.  When I sat down to analyze our mortgage statement, I realized that there was a cost for over 6,000 to the LA Hero program.   Simple, this loan has been completely paid off, and it should not appear on our tax bill anymore.  Simple, right?  Remove it, fix it, communicate it.  Oh boy, was I wrong, in expecting this to be simple.

After the first person transferred me, letting me know that surely I was owed a large refund, I started communicating with the LA Co. Assessor/Auditor.  I ended up in this awful looped-phone-call-from-hell.  This is an excerpt from 26 minutes on the phone with the tax office.

In regards to my loan with the HERO program being paid off, how this appeared on my property tax bill, and how to get this removed from my mortgage statement, my main question of the tax assessor was,”Who was supposed to communicate this to whom?”  Is it my responsibility, as the homeowner, to make sure that once we paid off the HERO loan, to make sure the Tax Assessor’s office communicates the pay-off to our mortgage loan company?  TA refers to the mortgage company as the ‘bank’.

Me: “Whose responsibility is it, to communicate that the HERO loan was paid off? Is it my responsibility, as the homeowner, to make sure that once we paid off the HERO loan, to make sure the Tax Assessor’s office communicates this to our loan company? Is that my responsibility, because that’s not clear, at all.”

TA: “Mind you.  I don’t know who’s responsible because the county’s responsibility, as far as the auditors, our department. Once HERO is told to add this amount to your tax bill, it’s done.  The HERO program has to send us information saying that it’s paid off. Depending on if there’s money still due on your tax bill, we’re going to make the adjustment.

Me: “Okay, so, you made the adjustment, I got the adjusted bill.”

TA: “Right, so then that’s it. That’s our responsibility.  That’s between you and the bank and you and HERO. Our thing is to add it on the bill based on HERO providing us information, whether to add it or remove it. That’s it, that’s all. Your bank’s responsibility is to pay the tax bill.”

Me: “Right, I think what’s really strange to me is all of this stuff gets communicated but it’s really not clear to me what my responsibility is in the whole process. I assumed that somebody would communicate it and say “Look, this loan has been paid off! But instead, I get a statement from my mortgage company saying I owe $1100 more in taxes because they’re getting a statement from you. And that’s what I’ve been very frustrated about and they didn’t tell me anything about the $1700 refund that was sent back to them on February 6. So I don’t understand who’s communicating with what, when.  It doesn’t make any sense to me and it’s very frustrating.”

TA: “Our job is… I understand.  But, you purchased a home <<let the patronizing continue!>> you set it up for the bank to take care of.  Your bank is either requesting the information to have your bills paid.  When you purchase something from HERO, the bank doesn’t know, neither does the county.  So whatever work you got done to your home, us, as the county we have no idea, your bank has no idea.  So how can the county or the bank be notified?  It has to come from HERO. So HERO has done their job with the county to notify us that you have paid it off so when next year’s bill is mailed to your bank, or however they’re requesting it, it’s not going to have a charge on there.  So basically, I don’t know how to answer that question (no duh!) because it’s not the county’s responsibility to tell the bank because we don’t know you have an impound account and we don’t know who you bank with and tell them that it’s paid off.  And HERO doesn’t know who you bank with to notify them.

Me: “I think what’s extremely frustrating though, I understand what you’re saying, but what’s extremely frustrating is there are tons of players and nobody knows anything. Nobody knows how to help me.  That’s what’s frustrating.”

TA: “How does the county know who you bank with?”

Me: “No, see, the problem is, I don’t understand your system in general, because I don’t do this everyday.  I don’t communicate in tax assessor language and vocabulary.  So it’s a completely new and foreign program to me.  And it’s a completely new and foreign vocabulary and all I know is, I don’t wanna pay an extra $1100 and I don’t think I should have to and I wanna figure out how to get it fixed.”  <<<GAH!>>>

TA: “It’s not until your bank gets your next bill for the next fiscal year, in October, that it would go back down.  (Basically what this means is that between now (March) and October of 2017 I will have to continue to pay the $1100.  Can you say bullshit?).  But I do understand your frustration (Do you, really?) because, you’re still going to have to pay what they’re asking for, now, unless you can provide something to your bank stating that, the dollar amount has changed. ”

Me: “Why can’t I make that statement now? The dollar amount has changed!” <<<HEATED thinking to self, why in the world should I pay extra money to an escrow account with my mortgage company on a loan that has already been paid? Asinine. >>>

TA: “We don’t provide the tax bill, for one.”

Me: “So it looks to me like you can’t really help me anymore. So we’re just gonna go round and round the merry-go-round, unless you have something else you can help me with.”

TA: “We’re not going round and round. I mean, I answered your questions.”

Me: “Okay, so I’m kinda done, cuz I gotta move on to the next phone call and figure out how to fix it!”

TA: “Okay, that’s fine.”

Me: “I mean, that’s it! Thank you. Appreciate it.”  <<<Not really,  I still don’t have a solution!!!>>>  

This example conversation is why I’d rather eat my weight in beets, than make these kinds of phone calls.

Afterward, I proceeded to call the mortgage company.  In what ended up being a 30-minute conversation total with the players at Cenlar, they put me through to the specialized tax representative who gave me her direct line and assured me that she would call me back today (she didn’t).  However, yesterday, I left that conversation feeling hopeful that they would reassess the escrow account as soon as they had the proper documentation that the HERO program had been paid off.  I told her I had forwarded the HERO pay-off information on Sunday, February 20 to their secured customer service email system.  She said the emails can take several days before they can access them and she would get her supervisor involved. She added, affectionately, that her supervisor was like Inspector Gadget and enjoyed solving complex unusual situations like this.  (Okay Inspector Gadget, get your game on and help me take $1100 off my next month’s bill.  PuH-LEEZE!!!)

Are you tired now?  I am.

In other news, today we received a call from our architect, that our plans have been approved by the county.  Yay!  Now we get to fork out a gazillion more dollars to reconstruct our bedroom 2 feet.  Good times.  The best.

I just keep on rollin’ with it.  But I do have a bit of attitude.  Nice doesn’t work when you are trying to get something to happen.  Maybe it would work, but I can’t be nice in these kinds of phone calls.  I feel a little guilty sometimes, because maybe I’m being bitchy, which I hate, but you have to fight fire with fire in these kinds of life events.  That said, “Put up your dukes!”— whoever-it-is-I’m-fighting-with. This fight ain’t over yet.

Until next Friday.  Love you loves.

Gastric Bypass Update:

I’ve had a lot of chocolate this week.  I’ve taken extra naps.  I bet you can’t guess why.

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