I had a rather unpleasant email from one of my student loan providers, MOHELA, in my inbox when I woke up this morning.

We have not heard from you to assist in resolving your account status, and your account remains past due.

Wow. That’s news to me.

Considering the fact that my student loan account is set up for automatic payment every month, I was a little shocked to hear that I was past due. I checked my account and they had levied a monstrous $2.62 late fee onto my account. I guess they were punishing me for not reminding them to pull the automatic payment I signed up for years ago.

I obviously had to call and set things straight.

Mohela Customer Service Could Use Some Work

I called in and inquired about the charge. I specifically asked why the autopayment hadn’t pulled like it has every other month for the last three years. I was told that because all of my three loans had entered into deferment due to my part time school status, the autopay stopped. Makes sense.

However, when I requested that one of my loans (the unsubsidized one) be entered back into repayment, apparently it takes a while for autopay to get reapplied to the loan. This would have been nice to know when I initially talked to them about moving that loan back into repayment. I was never told to make a manual payment.

As nicely as I could, I explained to the representative that I have always paid my bill on time and that I clearly would have done so in July if it hadn’t been for the autopay not working. I expected her to say something like, “Of course Mr. McKee. I’m sorry you weren’t informed that you would have to make a manual payment to restart the loan. I’ll waive the fee and you can pay the balance online.”

Instead I got:

“It’s not our fault. We sent you a letter. I can take your payment now for the full balance due, including the late fee.”

You have got to be pooping me (my PG version of a more common phrase). First of all, you didn’t send me a letter because I’m signed up for paperless communication, and my electronic inbox has no communication about that. Second of all, it’s a $2.62 late fee and I’m a very good customer who has never missed a payment before, so I would imagine I deserve some goodwill anyway. Third of all, you’ve got to be pooping me.

Maybe she didn’t understand the situation. I explained it again, hoping she would realize the right thing to do. I didn’t want to ask for the fee to be waived; I wanted it to be offered.

Once again, she told me I could pay the full balance, fee included, over the phone or online.

Frustrating.

I finally caved and had to ask for the fee to be waived.

Mohela Didn’t Even Admit Fault

She put me on hold for a minute, then came back and said, “We can only waive one late fee over the lifetime of the loan. Are you sure you want this one waived?”

Basically, I got treated exactly the same as someone who just forgot to make a payment.

It didn’t matter that they canceled my autopay, then didn’t start it back up in time, then didn’t tell me to make a manual payment. It doesn’t matter that when I log into my account, it gives me no information about any payments being due:

Mohela Sucks

If you can’t see that picture, it says: Next Payment, 1/6/2011. The amount field is completely blank.

Even if I had logged in to see if I needed to make a payment, I wouldn’t have seen anything. However, according to Mohela, it was my fault I missed the payment.

What Would You Have Done?

Part of me wanted to ask for a supervisor, explain the situation, and demand that the fee is waived without it counting for my “one fee waiver” over the life of the loan.

However, the other part of me knows that I will never be late again. And if I am late again, the fee is less than three bucks. At this point, the fee had been waived and I could move onto the next item on my life agenda.

The docile part of me won. I just hung up the phone, took my $2.62 one-time credit, and moved on with my life.

Would you have taken the offer (essentially admitting fault but still getting your fee waiver) or would you have fought harder to make Mohela admit fault and keep your other late fee forgiveness stashed away?

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