August 30, 2005

i need some frickin' customer service over here, please!

So, my old '83 Honda Civic is parked out in front of the house gathering cobwebs and plantlife, and there's really no hope of ever getting it to run again, so I'm planning on donating it to charity. It's been out there since November. Any normal person would have had it on the tow truck months ago, but I, as you should all know by now, am no "normal" person.

I have to clean the vehicle out, firstly. This is a task I've been avoiding for awhile. It's gonna be a dirty job - but that's not what's kept me from donating it yet.

My biggest obstacle is that I took out a loan back in 1997 using my Honda as collateral, through a company called The Associates. That company closed down sometime around 1999, and the account was transferred to a company called CitiFinancial. I made my payments as required and the loan was paid off sometime in 2001 or 2002. I never received a release of lien, but I never really thought about it, either.

Last year, when I first started thinking about buying a MINI, I put a call into the office where I mailed my payments to get the title transferred back to me. They had me fax my VIN number and told me they would mail me some paperwork - paperwork that I never got.

So then in November, my Honda died. I got back on the phone with CitiFinancial and said "Hey, I never got that Release of Lien. Can we get that ball rolling again?" A perfectly nice guy named Mike helped me out by looking for my file. After a few days, I called him back, and he apologized saying he could not locate my file, that it was probably lost in a shuffle, but that he would sort it out if I gave him my VIN number. I did. I never heard from him.

I called him back about a month later, asking him what the hold-up was. He apologized profusely, and said that he no longer had my VIN handy, so if I could get that to him again, he'd get right on it. Well, of course, I didn't have it handy either, so I told him 'd gather it and give him a call back eventually.

Well, eventually turned into never, as other things took my interest away from the transfer. The Honda is registered until November, I didn't think it would be an issue - no rush.

So my dad's been hounding me to get the car out of the neighborhood, so I took down the VIN this morning and tried to call the CitiFinancial branch I had been dealing with. First call - no one was there. Second call, about an hour later, the line was busy. Third call - luck! I spoke with a girl, explained my situation, and then was transferred to another woman in the office. She told me they couldn't help me there, that I would have to call the national office, and they ave me a 1-800 number to call.

I called the 1-800 number and was on hold for over ten minutes, maybe fifteen. When someone finally picked up I explained my situation. They looked me up in their "computers" and couldn't find me - the woman said it was probably handled by their "Paid in Full" department, and gave me another toll-free number to call.

So I call the third number, and hold, and hold, and hold. When the phone finally starts ringing I get all excited, I can hear the line pick up, and then it goes dead. FUCK! I call again, exasperated. Hold, hold, hold, and finally an answer. I tell the woman my long story and she tells me that they did not handle my account, it is the responsibility of the branch that I mailed payments to to handle these things, and that I should call them. UGH.

So I call the branch back, and again speak with two different women (all womenm so far). It ends up that they cannot find me in their system, and since they have no proof that I paid off the loan, they cannot release the lien at this time. I need to come up with an account number of a loan I paid off at least over three years ago.

I don't know what to do! I don't believe I still have ANY of that loan information. I don't think the bank would still have any of the checks on file (I'll try to call them). I don't, I don't, I don't. What I DO know is that I'm pissed - off. At myself, at this fucking branch that lost my files awhile ago, it seems, at the world.

What can I do if they don't release the lien? I can't get rid of the car!!

posted by julie at August 30, 2005 11:03 AM

things people have said

Try looking at your credit report - that will give you the account number, a company name that was servicing your loan, possibly a phone number and -


The words, "Paid in Full" with a zero balance.

Get nasty, m'dear! They'll need to get you the proper reconveyance ASAP. I had similar dealing with the Associates, and finally found the right person to finalize all the ratty details and get the job done right. I did have to threaten Fair Credit & Reporting sections first, though.

Good luck.

so said: Sheryl at August 30, 2005 07:23 PM

Thanks Sheryl, I've consulted one of my credit reports, and it looks like they don't happen to be on that particular one. I'm ordering some old bank statements, and can hopefully get a copy of one of my payment checks with an account number on it. That should prove helpful for an account number, again, hopefully.

so said: julie (me) at August 30, 2005 09:02 PM

since you just want to be rid of the car anyway you can tell them the car is now their responsiblity as if the loan wasn't paid by now they would surely have to reposess the car. So either they take it away as their proberty or they relaease the lien and make you deal with getting rid of it. Ok in seriousness though if they have no ecord of a loan then how can they say you owe them anything in order to hold onto the lien. I would call the better business bureu

so said: Karin at August 31, 2005 01:49 PM