For want of an email

So, turns out that I got docked because my stellar Financial Counsellor fucked up again. I haven’t told the full story of my recent dealings with her, which have been scant and angry. Life is like that I realise, full of well-intentioned incompetence and lazy indifference. It’s the history of the world as much as anything else, the epic battles and charismatic leaders balanced out by the untold, unheralded, unknown tales of sheer stupidity.

In brief, I went to my financial counsellor about 7 weeks ago and told her to get things moving. With the prospect of dollars coming my way I wanted to tidy up my affairs, which meant proposing arrangements with my creditors. There and then, while I sat there, she sent out about half a dozen faxes to my assortment of creditors.

A few days later she sent me a message telling me that one of my creditors had responded with an offer which seemed reasonable. Was I willing to accept it? I replied with a yes inside an hour, and that was the last I heard of it.

I spent the next few weeks sending her emails and making unanswered calls chasing up this issue, and the remaining, to see where things were at. I got nothing from her and it was only much later that I discovered that she had done nothing. By that time the deal was off the table, collections agencies were on the phone to me, and I was listed as being in default.

I finally tracked her down only after complaining directly to Salvation Army administration, but the horse had bolted. One deal was gone, others were lost somewhere in the murk, and, as I found over the weekend, the further consequences meant that I was out-of-pocket by $3,500.

Turns out my bank took the money from me because I owe money on my credit card with them. They took it because my Financial Counsellor had not responded to their proposal. In other words, the money would not have been taken from me had she done her job, and by now I’d likely have had a deal on the table.

She had only to respond to them by email and none of this situation would’ve arisen and I’d be thousands better off.

To ANZ’s credit they’ve been reasonable. I called them first thing this morning and was given details. I got onto my Financial Counsellor to rectify it. Not trusting her I acted on my own behalf just in case. I got onto a very reasonable guy who grasped and appreciated the situation quickly and promised to help. The outcome of all that is that I’m likely to have the debit reversed, but have to jump through some hoops first. There will need to be some kind of arrangement, but what pisses me is that the arrangement will be of less benefit to me now than it would have been had my financial counsellor had done her job properly a month ago.

That was then – predictably it became more complex later.

I got back from work to find an email from my financial counsellor stating she had a deal with the bank that materially worse than what I had discussed with them earlier. I was exasperated. I told her so. Then I rang the bank myself.

What followed was quite an intense 15 minute conversation. I was seething. I’m good at strong conversations. I may be in beta minus situation, but I remain an alpha character, and it’s in my voice and in my attitude.

They had proposed two options. The first is that they keep the money they took, and make an arrangement for the balance. Or they return half of it and make an arrangement. So generous.

Either option was pointless in my situation. I told them that. I explained my situation, how I needed the money to get a place to live, how if they failed to return it to me then they’d be responsible for me living on the street next week. A little melodramatic, but broadly true. We went too and fro. She held her ground but gradually I beat her back.

First she said that if I provide the paperwork they would discuss reversing the debit. Not good enough I told her. I need a commitment. Not a discussion, but a clear yes or no. Finally she acceded to that.

I guess it’s a victory, but it doesn’t feel like it. I still have to cough up the proof they want to get my own money back, and hope I have it in time to secure a property. And on top of that I’ve lost out on the arrangement I might have had – perhaps a 50% discount on the debt – because my financial counsellor didn’t respond to it.

I need her to clean up as much as she can, but it’s clear she doesn’t want anything to do with it. She’s out of her depth. I want some compensation for what’s happened, but I’ve already looked into getting another financial counsellor to act for me.

It’s fortunate I’m a resilient character. This is serious business. Someone more frail might have felt seriously overwhelmed by the events of the last few days, and quite possibly very depressed.

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