It took two years, but Servicers might just be starting to get the message. You can’t treat your homeowners with utter disregard, and not have repercussions.
A Fort Benning Soldier, David Brash, on active duty had automatic mortgage payments made directly to his servicer. All went fine for about 18 months. But then he started to get calls and letters from the servicer about missing payments. Brash then did what every homeowner should do, he call the servicer, PHH Mortgage Corp. doing business as Coldwell Banker, and followed up with letters, pointing out the errors of their ways.
Of course, at the beginning of each of the telephone calls, he got the usual statement that the calls may be recorded or monitored for “training purposes”. Well that didn’t work out so good for the servicer either.
Mr. Brash then contacted an attorney, in an effort to stop these calls and straighten the situation out. The servicer said a number of times that they would straighten out the error. In fact, they did make some credits to his account for the improper late charges.
Then it started all over again, and Brash’s attorney again contacted the servicer, claiming that they were violating the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Acts, when the servicer reported that Brash was “serious delinquent” in November 2009.
The Jurors listened to those recordings that the servicer made, with Brash on hold with “off shore customer service representatives” for up to 55 minutes either listening to music or just plain silence. They saw the letters to him threatening to report his non-existent delinquency to credit bureaus. They listened to a 60 minute conversation with one of these representatives while he explained how the servicer was in error, but that didn’t stop them. The calls and letters just kept coming.
Brash filed suit in Federal Court, and two years later, a Federal Jury awarded him 1 million dollars in compensatory damages. Those are damages for the actual losses he suffered, to his credit, his reputation and other actual losses. They also awarded him $575.00 out-of-pocket expenses. Then they added $350,000 in attorney’s fees which are permitted under the statute. Finally, in a gesture to get the Servicer’s attention, they awarded Brash 20 Million, that’s right, 20 Million dollars in Punitive Damages.
How’s that a penalty for poor customer service????