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top notch communication blunders

Stop Trying to “Help” Me

By conversations, financial wisdom, hazards to my well-being, political views, top notch communication blunders, you might learn something One Comment

This is another example of really dumb laws that need to exist because people do not understand how their health insurance works.

Today, I had a prescription refilled at Target, and when I arrived to pick it up, they informed me it was the generic.

“I don’t want the generic,” I said. “I want the brand name.”

“Well, your insurance doesn’t cover the brand name, so it’s expensive,” the pharmacist said.

“My insurance doesn’t cover prescriptions because I have a high deductible plan, so I pay full price, and my drugs count towards my deductible. I’ve been taking the brand name for two years. That’s what I want,” I said.

“Well, we can’t give you the brand name unless your doctor specifies it or you request it,” she said.

“Okay. I request it.”

“Okay. Well, I’m not sure if we have any, so let me check. I can probably have that ready for you in about 40 minutes,” she told me.

“Forty minutes?” I asked. “I called this afternoon, and you said it would be ready in 10 minutes. It’s 7:30.”

“Yes, but state law requires us to fill with the generic unless you request the brand name. It’s to protect you and help save you money,” she said. “The brand name is $84.”

“Right. And the generic is $57, and I have a coupon for the brand name that makes it $25, so that law doesn’t help me at all, now does it?”

“Um…”

“In fact, I think if I didn’t know any better,” I continued, “it would have cost me $30, and either way, it’s going to cost me 40 minutes, which is ridiculous.”

She just stared at me. I think I hurt her feelings. It’s not easy being right all the time.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: knowledgeable
And I’m singin’ along to: I Think Ur A Contra – Vampire Weekend

LBPS Strikes a New Low

By condo, conversations, drama, financial wisdom, hazards to my well-being, mortgage, not ruling at life, top notch communication blunders, you might learn something 8 Comments

Today, my mortgage company (IBM LBPS) really blew themselves out of the water. As you may know, a few months ago, I was working with them to try and negotiate a short refinance. To make a long story short, that was an epic failure. After four months of LBPS giving me the run-around and other lenders telling me they could approve me but not give me the proper documentation to show it, I’ve pretty much given up hope on the short refinance. I think what sealed the deal was this chat conversation that I had with Quicken Loans (LBPS’ recommended refinance experts!) last week:

Thank you for inquiring with Quicken Loans, we’re America’s #1 online lender and do business in all 50 states! Please hold while we connect you with the best suited Mortgage Expert.
You have been connected to James Springer.
James S.: Hello Lisa. How can I help you today?
Lisa: Hi, James. I have a current mortgage with IBM LBPS, and they recommended me to Quicken Loans. I am trying to work out a refinance with an FHA Short Refinance loan — do you have any loan officers that specialize in these short refis?
James S.: What do you mean by ‘short’ refinance?
Lisa: Have you ever heard of this program? https://www.quickenloans.com/mortgage-news/mortgage-program-underwater-fha-short-refinance
James S.: Ok. I need your full name, address, date of birth and social security number.
Lisa: I’m not giving you my social security number through a chat window.

Really? Really.

So, on to my next few options. I did some research on more of Fannie Mae’s options for upside-down borrowers, and I actually found a pretty attraction program called Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives (HAFA). HAFA is an extension of the Making Home Affordable options (HAMP and HARP), neither of which will work for my co-borrower and I. HAMP is the Home Affordable Modification Program, which modifies eligible borrowers’ loans to make monthly payments more affordable. HARP is the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which enables eligible borrowers to refinance up to 125 percent of their property’s current value at a lower interest rate. Unfortunately, borrowers with private mortgage insurance (PMI) on their loans only qualify to refinance 95 percent of their home’s value under HARP.

HAFA offers three additional options – a short sale, a deed-in-lieu or a deed-for-lease. All three of these options are potential contenders because all three will get the loan out of my co-borrower’s name. Although, they’ll all get the loan out of my name, too, so it looks like I may be moving soon. (Closer to the beach, of course.)

From what I can tell, the HAFA options are a little more borrower-friendly than their traditional counterparts. Normally, short sales can be tricky and involve lots of delays and last-minute negotiating once an offer is made on the property. For instance, a lender won’t even really review/approve a traditional short sale until the property is listed and the seller receives an offer. In the meantime, the lender can begin foreclosure proceedings if the homeowner isn’t staying current with their payments. Plus, in states like Virginia, the lender may pursue a deficiency judgment for the difference between what is owed on the home and what the home sells for. Same thing with a foreclosure or a deed-in-lieu. That makes these options much less attractive in my state than they may be in other states.

HAFA takes a little more time up front, but the end result seems a little more defined. In order to qualify, the borrower must be reviewed and either approved or denied for HAMP. That can take 30 to 45 days, but once approval or denial is granted, the borrower can request to go the HAFA route for a short sale, deed-in-lieu or deed-for lease. It sounds like lenders will have a borrower at least list the home and try to sell it before allowing a deed-in-lieu, but if the homeowner wants to stay in the home, they’ll offer a deed-for lease. A deed-for-lease means that the borrower signs over the deed to the lender and then rents the property for the going market rate from the lender for a set amount of time. That sounds kind of interesting, huh?

The biggest difference I can see (and keep in mind, I’m not an expert on these things — this is just my full-time hobby) between traditional short sale/deed-in-lieu transactions and HAFA options is that a lot of the terms seem to be negotiated up front for HAFA. Like there’s no deficiency judgments — the lender can’t pursue any money or promissory notes after the closing. Also, the probability of the sale actually closing is much higher, and the seller even leaves the transaction with up to $3,000 in relocation assistance at the end of the deal. This Bank of America PDF about the program actually has a really comprehensive comparison chart on page 9 if you want to check out the differences side by side.

So, you can imagine my astonishment when I called LBPS over the weekend and inquired (of one of their short sale specialists) what the difference was between HAFA and a traditional short sale, and she had the audacity to tell me, “Nothing, really.” Oh, really? Okay.

You can also imagine how appalled I was when I called LBPS twice today and was told, “We don’t do HAFA short sales here.”

“You don’t?”

“No, ma’am. I just asked my supervisor. We don’t do those.”

“Well, that’s interesting. Do you have Internet access?”

“Yup.”

“Okay, why don’t you pull up this website: https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/guides/ssg/annltrs/pdf/2010/svc1007.pdf. Do you know what this is? This is a letter from Fannie Mae to every single one of their servicers. It says you were required to implement this program by August 1, 2010.”

“Oh.”

“I dare you to tell me again that you don’t do these. Now transfer me to someone who knows what the f— is going on in the freaking mortgage industry these days.”

So, yeah. Story of my life.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: frustrated
And I’m singin’ along to: Be My Escape – Relient K

Not So Much

By condo, conversations, e-mails, hazards to my well-being, mortgage, not ruling at life, press, top notch communication blunders No Comments

So, it turns out that being quoted in the Wall Street Journal isn’t really all it’s cracked up to be. I think I’m a little too confrontational to read the comments on articles like that. And let’s face it — my quote was taken a little out of context and had nothing to do with the story itself. I could really care less whether anyone thinks America is a nation of wusses or whether I’m a wuss or whatever. I just had a fleeting thought that a sarcastic response to Ed Rendell’s comments would make a funny blog post. It’s not exactly a subject I’m passionate about or anything, you know?

Either way, earlier this morning I was enjoying some humorous banter with the overly opinionated readers that comment on those types of articles, but I got kind of tired of being insulted, so I gave up. Someone actually sent me a private message through my account on the WSJ community (which I just set up this morning in order to participate in what I thought would be intelligent conversation in the comments), and told me that he thought I was a spoiled brat, a daddy’s girl, over-indulged, not funny, really dumb, and clearly not successful in life because I didn’t mention having a husband or children. WTF? Where do these people even come from?

I guess if personally attacking me on the WSJ website makes your day that much better, then have at it. I usually prefer to brighten people’s days by writing funny blog posts and making them laugh, but whatever floats your boat.

In the meantime, don’t even get me started on how stupid this is. This is what I deal with on a daily basis, as I’m still trying to refinance my condo. This is a chat conversation with a “mortgage expert” on the Quicken Loans website. (I chose the chat conversation because I was trying to figure out the correct number to call.)

Thank you for inquiring with Quicken Loans, we’re America’s #1 online lender and do business in all 50 states! Please hold while we connect you with the best suited Mortgage Expert.
You have been connected to James Springer.
James Springer: Hello Lisa. How can I help you today?
Lisa: Hi, James. I have a current mortgage with IBM LBPS, and they recommended me to Quicken Loans. I am trying to work out a refinance with an FHA Short Refinance loan — do you have any loan officers that specialize in these short refis?
James Springer: What do you mean by ‘short’ refinance?
Lisa: Have you ever heard of this program? https://www.quickenloans.com/mortgage-news/mortgage-program-underwater-fha-short-refinance
James Springer: Ok. I need your full name, address, date of birth and social security number.
Lisa: I’m not giving you my social security number through a chat window.

This crazy trip has got me feelin’: disappointed
And I’m singin’ along to: Theme from A Summer Place – The Lettermen

A Letter to the Governor of Pennsylvania

By breaking news, drama, extreme sports, games, hazards to my well-being, new jersey, political views, posts in the form of letters, top notch communication blunders, weather, you might learn something 4 Comments

Dear Governor Ed Rendell,

You’re an idiot. Was it just that you had nothing else you could possibly do other than watch football on Sunday night? Sounds like you’ve scaled your social life to about the same level as my neighbor who rifles through trash bags on Tuesday afternoons.

As an elected public official, I would think that the safety of the general public would at least cross your mind before you start calling your country a “nation of wusses” and comparing us to the Chinese, who, according to you, can march to football games in blizzard conditions while doing calculus. (Note: Marching because if they can concentrate on sports and calculus at the same time, then I’m assuming they’re smart enough not to drive in white-out conditions.)

The thing is, Ed, we’re not a nation of wusses. We’re a nation of fearless, bumbling morons in pickup trucks who like to drink beer, go shirtless in the freezing cold for football, and drive in f-ing blizzards. So, people like the mature, intelligent mayor of Philadelphia are forced to make unpopular decisions because if given the choice between staying home or driving to a game in the snow, nine times out of ten the “fans’ choice” (as you put it) would be the wrong one. And by getting on the road in a blizzard, those fans would be putting everyone else in danger.

Granted, a majority of the snow didn’t fall in Philadelphia (only a foot!), but everywhere east of there was pretty much pummeled. The Eagles are cool enough to have fans in New York and New Jersey, right? Or maybe even Delaware? There’s nothing going on in that state, so you’ve got to have some fans down there.

My point is this. One of the contributing factors to the lack of plowing going on around here is that there are abandoned cars blocking all of the major roadways. Plows, ambulances, fire trucks, emergency vehicles have been unable to navigate their way to where they need to be for going on 48 hours now, but people are still getting in their cars to drive around, and people are still getting stuck in some places. Do you see the problem?

Think before you talk, Governor. If the mayor of Philadelphia was able to keep even 5,000 measly people off the road on Sunday night, he did the right thing.

To the Eagles and their fans, I’m sorry that Tuesday’s game was a disappointment and you lost, but seriously? I don’t think you wanted to play/attend that game in that snow either. Right?

Anyway, to sum things up, I’m pretty much glad I don’t live in Pennsylvania because I’d be super embarrassed to have my state name associated with yours these last few days. (Also because you have no beach there.) Maybe you should drive your car out onto the PA Turnpike, pull over onto the shoulder, and sit in it for two days. Then you might understand the importance of not driving in snow. (And also how crappy that dumb road is.)

Good luck recovering from this fumble.

Idly,
A snowed in former resident of your neighboring state of New Jersey whose dad and brother spent 7.5 hours stuck on the side of the road in a car trying to get home from the NJ Devils game, which also should have been cancelled

P.S. In China, football is soccer, and it’s so poisoned with corruption, they’ve actually had to kick off a campaign to set it straight.

Constant with a K

By concerts, employment, fabio the hamster, hot lead singers of bands, las vegas, little cousins, lj, memories, music, not ruling at life, top notch communication blunders 2 Comments

The other night I saw Jack’s Mannequin at the Norva. It made me think of my time in Las Vegas – sharing a bunk bed with my 10-year-old cousin, laying on the floor, idly tapping out some LJ entries to the tune of Andrew McMahon’s irresistible voice (still Something Corporate back then) while I casually sipped glass of wine. The window would be open, and the sounds of the little cousins chattering would echo through the house. It was funny, at first I hated how loud that house was, but when I left, I couldn’t stand the sound of silence for quite a few months. My idea of quiet became the muffled sounds of laughter and video games drifting up the stairs while the door was cracked and the cat kept trying to sneak in. The occasional witty comment I overheard was enough to keep me inspired and keep me writing whatever LJ work of art I was creating at the time. And Fabio the Hamster. He could keep me going all night long.

You know I used to keep a mini notebook in my purse? I used to write down interesting quotes and song lyrics and funny ideas all day long and then blog about them later. I concentrated so hard to writing these hysterically satirical posts that I usually forgot I was supposed to be figuring out what to do with my life. Those were the LJ’s golden days. I remember now.

You know what else I remember now? My favorite lyrics to "Konstantine" by Something Corporate.

"I had these dreams in them I learned to play guitar
Maybe cross the country
Become a rock star."

Before MySpace; before Facebook; before my vapid second blog about materialistic bullshit that requires zero creativity, the LJ was my constant source of inspiration. Sure, it made you laugh, but best of all? It made me laugh. Constantly.

There was no writer’s block, and there was no wasting all my silly thoughts in a one-sentence status update. Whatever happened to composing an entire thought? An entire anecdote? An entire story?

Maybe it’s because I spend my days at work writing proposals. It’s not the most creative writing, but it’s a lot of writing. Maybe I just get it all out of my system at work, and I don’t feel like writing for fun anymore. 

Speaking of writing proposals at work – today a person who was supposed to be feeding me some narrative for a program management plan sent me some text. As I read the first few sentences, I grew suspicious of the fact that it sounded extremely too general and nothing like the rest of his writing. Needless to say, I Googled "program management" and soon came to the realization that he copied the entire program mangement plan from freaking Wikipedia.

Anyway, maybe someday Something Corporate will get back together. And maybe someday, I’ll be inspired to bang out some hysterically satirical posts again. Maybe soon.