Let me begin by saying, all things considered, I came through Hurricane Florence in pretty good shape. A lot of people around here (Wilmington, NC) lost everything. 30+ people died. I’m physically fine. I had damage to my house, but it looks to be repairable. I’m uninsured (long irrelevant story), and the repair costs will hurt, but I, with the help of my social support network, can cover it (I have a robust social support network - another thing a lot of folks that got hit harder are lacking). I even had power and internet when I got back home this Wednesday after evacuating. So, I’ll try not to rant too much.
All that being said,
Ally Auto sent out an email yesterday announcing various programs to support their customers who have been impacted by Hurricane Florence, including a 60-day extension on car loan payments. That would really come in handy right now, as I struggle to cover my expenses. Good on them.
Then they went ahead and autodrafted this month’s auto loan payment from my account. Not mentioned in the email, but apparently this isn’t an automatic program, but one you have to enroll into (by way of contrast, Verizon automatically gave my mobile account unlimited voice, text, and data without me needing to do anything).
So, I called the number listed in the email for assistance. Got an automated tree. No way to get to a human being. No option listed for hurricane relief, or payment extensions, or anything listed. “Payments” gives me options to make payments, but nothing to extend or defer them, and no human. And so on.
Finally, a stab in the dark, I pressed “0”. Note that this is not listed anywhere in the automated menu as a means to contact a human. It worked, though. Finally got through to an operator. To Ally’s credit, she seemed fully briefed on the program, and got right into it.
She collected a bunch of info to verify my account and my eligibility. Tedious, but understandable. Then we get to actual enrollment. She can mail me (!) the paper work, or set it up through my online account. I think I set up an online account when I first got the loan to set up autodrafts, but hell if I can find my online account info anywhere. I’m dealing with a number of other issues (FEMA, roofing contractor, trying to set up accounts so my sister can send me some money, then my car died in a Wal-Mart parking lot…), so I just tell her to go ahead and mail it. Hopefully it gets through. Traffic in and out of the Wilmington area is dicey at best right now.
Then she gives me the actual terms. I have to make a payment equal to 60% of my normal monthly payment within 10 days. Then my next payment will be for 40% of my normal monthly payment, due in December. Then regular payments will resume in January.
Let me say that again. In order to get a 60 day extension on my loan payments, I have to make an early payment, equal to 60% of my normal payment, within 10 days.
That’s not really an extension.
Oh, and I have to return the signed paperwork, with the payment, within that 10 day window, or I won’t be enrolled in the program. That’s a tight window for mailing documents, even under normal circumstances. I hope the mail gets through both ways without delay…like, maybe, a hurricane and catastrophic flooding cutting off all major roads in and out of a city?
Or maybe I don’t. I might actually be better off waiting to make my next payment next month, after a couple of more paydays, rather than trying to scrape together the early payment now.
Ally Auto: “We Want to Seem Like We Care About You, But Really, We Want Our Money. Now.”