I recently contacted Bank of America regarding the refinancing of my home. (I’m hoping to take advantage of the relatively low rates currently available.) Refinancing involves speaking with a loan officer. Loan officers generally are compensated, at least in part, through commissions.
1. Beginning in a “Live Chat” with, let’s call him “Bob,” the first question I’m asked is the rate of my current mortgage. “Does that really matter?”, I asked. “No.”, replied Bob. (At this point, I’m thinking that at some point during the process, I would have been told, “Wow, Matt, look how much lower this rate is than your current one!”, when, in fact, that’s irrelevant; I want the lowest rate offered in the market right now.)
We move on to a phone call, and I’m quoted a rate of 5.5% with 0.5 points. Bob asks, “So, how do those numbers look to you, Matt?” Obviously, this isn’t their best offer.
I replied that Bank of America was my first stop, and so I didn’t have a comparison reference yet. “Matt, why don’t you call the credit union right now, and call me straight back. These numbers just dropped today, and may not be available long!” Yes, the age-old, “You must act fast!” tactic. How clever.
An hour or so later, I emailed Bob a screenshot of the credit union’s numbers; same interest rate, but no points. I ask him to email me Bank of America’s best offer. Bob replies, “Matt, I’ve already got some discounts approved by my manager. What time can we speak on the phone tomorrow?” Ah, the sneaky application of the triple-technique: (1) place himself in the neutral position between the customer and the “managers,” (2) information can only be passed when speaking (to give him the chance to respond to whatever my reaction might be), and (3) again, the insistence on acting quickly (“We must speak tomorrow.”)
I replied to Bob, saying that I will be unavailable the following day between the hours of 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM (the window during which he wanted to call), and could he please instead send me Bank of America’s best offer. Disregarding my statement of unavailability, he tried calling three times between 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM.
At this point, I’m wondering whether to continue with Bob or not. This process feels something akin to buying a used car at Shady Al’s Shack. I’m not completely sure why I find it so distasteful, perhaps because (a) it feels somehow insulting, and (b) it’s terribly inefficient, thereby wasting my time.