I took out a Private education loan through Bank One in 2001, I was burdened with the great misfortune of having AES as my loan servicer. This began as a 20,000 loan with an adjustable rate. For the year and a half that I remained in school, the interest that accrued on the loan was only approximately $1,000.00.
Approximately 2 - 3 years after the loan entered repayment, I contacted AES concerning adjustments to the loan... Could I refinance with a fixed rate? Could I make adjustments to my payment to make the payments more affordable? The only option I was given was "all you can do is put the loan in forbearance." I did not want to do this but was given no other option! After 6 months in forbearance, the loan amount was up to $24,000.00 ( the interest rate had not increased by that much if any to warrant such a high interest accrual!) Again, it became necessary for me to attempt adjustments to my loan. Again, I was told of no other options than forbearance. This forbearance was to last until February.
Right after I put my loan in forbearance, hurricanes Katrina & Rita hit. AES gave all Louisiana residents an automatic forbearance (which would end in November). Being as I had already placed my loan in forbearance this shouldn't have affected me. However, AES pulled my loan out of forbearance in November, unbeknown to me! Next I am being constantly harassed by them & even their attorneys. I was told that "we don't care if you have to buy diapers and formula for 2 babies! That's not our problem! You should have thought of that before you had them!" They were demanding $1200.00 & I was on unpaid maternity leave! I told them to go ahead and file suit against me if they felt the need to!
Once this issue was resolved, I continued making payments. With the loan balance now up to almost $27,000.00 (because I was never given any other option than forbearance!) Their billing states that my monthly payment is to be applied to principle & interest. Each month, I would make a payment of at least $25.00 - $100 in excess of the amount due, with the notation that the additional was to be applied to the principle balance.
After reviewing a years worth of statements, I noted that on occasion a minute amount would be credited to principle (not the amount I had specified) & the rest to interest, with the entire payment (additional amounts included) applied to principle every other month. Convenient that if I sent them $275.00, the interest due was $275.00. If I sent them $255.00, the interest due was $255.00 and so on. I requested an explanation which I never received.
My most recent problem with them began in December 2008. I called, this time informing them that I wanted to set up a graduated payment plan. This was set up for me & the new monthly payment was given to me as well. I asked whether I needed to submit the old amount or the new amount for Dec. payment. I was told "you don't have to pay anything. It is taken care of. You will start paying the new amount in January." I verified this, and was assured that there was NO payment due at this time for December since the terms had been modified. No further explanation was given.
In January, 2009 I received a bill which reflected a past due balance. On January 29, I called AES to address this. I was told at this time "this is our fault. The girl that updated your account in December didn't update the account correctly to reflect that there were to be no payments due until January." Again, I was assured that I did not owe the amount stated, that all had been "taken care of" & I was apologized to for "any inconvenience." & again no further explanation given.
In March, I receive a letter from a collection agency. On March 2, 2009 I contacted AES for the third time! This time, after being placed on hold for at least 30 - 45 minutes, the young man tells me "you do owe that amount. The payment can only be waived if you have forbearance time left & you don't". I protested this, as NOTHING was ever mentioned to me about the need for forbearance time in order for the December payment to be waived! I was told "well they should've told you." My response, "well, they didn't. Infact this is my 3rd. time to call. Why is it that your story is the only one that differs? What do you see that no one else could? or what adjustments were made to my account while I was on hold for so long?" We argued about this, I was grossly misinformed & do not feel that I should be held accountable for late fees. As this was their fault, they should assist me by placing the payment on the tail end of the loan. I was told repeatedly that "you just have to pay it!" I asked to speak to a manager & was told "There are no managers. You can talk to someone else if you like, but they are just gonna tell you the same thing!" Like talking to a wall, I got nowhere.
I am now filing this complaint, in addition to this I will be filing a complaint with the BBB (AES has an "F" rating) as well as the Federal Trade Commission - Division of Financial Practices & strongly urge others to do the same. If enough people fight back, then maybe they can be stopped!
Denham Springs, Louisiana