You Can't Make More than the Minimum Payment!
November 20, 2013 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Like many Americans I have college loans that I am paying back. I have been paying them for years and will continue to do so for many more. However, I am making a bit more money now than I was, so I decided that I would like to try and pay my loans back a little bit faster.

I am enrolled in an automatic payment program with ACS Repayment which, as far as I can tell, is a part of Wachovia Bank. The automatic payment section of their website is pretty terrible from a usability standpoint, but it does allow one to have the bank withdraw funds from my checking account each month. Unfortunately, there is zero ability to adjust the payments on the site. The first thing I tried was logging into my account so that I could just raise my monthly payment a little bit. No dice.

So, I decided I would do the next best thing. My bank allows me to make automatic payments, so I just set one up to add a payment to my college lender every month. I decided I would just add $50 each month to try and speed things up a bit.

Right after this happened, I noticed an e-mail from ACS, which is unusual because they rarely write me except at the beginning of the year to send me my interest statement for tax purposes. The e-mail informed me that the amount of my automatic payment had been adjusted. I figured that it must have been some small adjustment to account for interest or something that might have been affected by my extra payment and didn't really look into it. Actually, what I did was what I always do with e-mail that I mean to do something with but don't have time now; I marked it as "unread" so that it would hang around my inbox and I could check it later.

However, the next month I got the same notice. Same thing happened - work has been busy so I didn't look at it. Today I got another one and so I looked into it. It turns out that the adjustment was one that exactly compensated for the $50 I had added to my payment. In other words, they had lowered my payment by the same amount that I was overpaying, so even though I had added $50 each month, they had basically kept me at the minimum payment each month by just lowering the amount that they were deducting from my account.

Well, this irritated me. So I called them. I got what I am pretty sure was an Indian call center, which doesn't really bother me, because I know that big businesses farm that stuff out. However, I immediately wondered if I would be able to get help. I explained the situation to the woman and she said she would look into it. She placed me on hold for about 12 minutes. It took so long that I began to wonder if they were hoping I would go away. Just as I was about to do so, she picked back up and said she would need a couple of more minutes to "do research." I said I would wait and this time she was back pretty quickly.

She explained that it was no problem for me to make extra payments. I would just have to call each time to tell them not to change the amount of withdrawal from my account.


I said, "so you mean that if I want to make extra payments, I have to call every month to make that happen? That effectively makes this not an automatic payment." Then I asked to speak with her manager. There was no manager, she explained. I started to rant, saying that as a bank they should be able to accept more than a minimum payment and blah, blah, blah and then caught myself, and said something to the effect that I knew this wasn't her fault so I didn't need to take it out on her. I asked if there were another number I could call to speak with someone about this. No, there wasn't. All calls would be routed back here.

So what we have is a bank, servicing government backed college loans, who are actively making it difficult for me to do anything other than make the minimum payment each month. And I can't contact anyone to discuss it. I just get sent back to a call center where no one has any power to change it or even explain it. I have a real problem with that.

So, for now I am just going to change my over-payment amount to more than the minimum payment each month and see what happens. Will they start putting money back into my bank account in order to keep me at the minimum payment? I guess we will see.
posted by Yellowbeard (0 comments total)

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