Tacoma Mountain Mitsubishi South Tacoma Way, US Bank - the Military Installment Loan and Education Services (MILES) Program and Military Assistance Company (MAC), are involved in parasitical practices that feed on our active duty service members. These organizations intentionally market themselves as organizations either directly connected or contracted by the Department of Defense. They use verbal and visional re-enforcement throughout the purchasing, financing and payroll deduction process. These practices are used to lure the service member into believing that these organizations were created to give special consideration to our service members in recognition there commitment to our country while in fact they are taking advantage of our service members and their unique circumstances. They are predatory in nature.
The MILES Program also known as Dealers' Financial Services is owned and operated by US Bank. The program is available to active duty service members only. The program has been developed to intentionally mislead service members into believing they were and are dealing with a government approved program. The MILES Program promises financing for a new or used car, as long as the used car is less then 5 years old, at an interest rate of 17.95% for the life of the loan. The cars sold to these service members are sold at high Blue Book value, with undisclosed fees and excessive undefined charges. The MILES program also works with the Military Assistance Center (MAC) to secure payment to US Bank. MAC is a middleman who takes the car payment out of the service members pay for additionally undisclosed fees. MAC is another program that misleads service members into believing they are dealing with a government program.
On February 27th 2005, Mark (e-2 AT THE TIME) went to Mountain Mitsubishi to look for a car. His intention was to find a car that would cost around $6,000.00. An amount he felt he could afford. Kirk C. Lindt, aka KC Lindt, a salesman for Tacoma Mountain Mitsubishi in 2005, informed Mark that a loan for $6,000.00 was impossible as Mark would need a co-signer on that kind of loan. Since Mark had just recently been relocated from his home state of Texas to Ft. Lewis, Washington a co-signer appeared not to be an option. I say this also because Mr. Lindt did not pursue the co-signer option after making the statement. Surprisingly though Mr. Lindt was able to get Mark a loan for a used car off the Mitsubishi lot for a much higher price. It was a Mitsubishi Lancer with a full sticker price of $12,646.12, with no co-signer.
Mr. Lindt was able to do this with the help of the MILES Program. He knew Mark was going to be approved for the car loan before the paperwork was even sent to the MILES Program as indicated by the US Bank loan contract, the transfer of title through the Washington State Department of Motor Vehicles and the allotment start forms which were all dated Feb.27th, 2005. The day before the dealership verified Marks pay and before he filled out the mandatory MILES vehicle purchase-training questionnaire, two days before he was notified he was approved for the loan, and seventeen days before his credit review was pulled. The loan documents were riddled with hidden fees, over charges double charges, and unexplained charges that were meant to be confusing.
This confusion was overwhelming and was used to prevent Mark from knowing all his liabilities and options. All the time the salesman is reassuring Mark, not to worry all the groups involved have Marks best interest in mind.
The approval of the loan should have been based on 45% of Marks base pay as stated on the MILES Program website and yet unbeknownst to Mark, hidden in all those confusing documents and misleading figures, the car Mark was sold and approved for was approximately 65% of his base pay. Leaving him with a payroll deduction that consumed his paycheck. Eventually leaving him looking for additional money every pay period just to meet his living expenses.
At the time Mark purchased the car he did not have a drivers license or insurance and yet he was approved for a loan. Mark only had a Washington State Drivers Permit, he didnt get his license until March 22, 2005; but that didnt stop Mr. Lindt from selling Mark a car or getting him approved for a loan. According to the MILES Program you have to have your own verifiable insurance in order to be approved for the car loan. Mark did not get verifiable insurance until March 8th, 2005 and that insurance was provided without a valid drivers license.
On March 8th, 2005 Ms. Tambra Grothe, K.C. Lindts girlfriend (at the time), worked for Brooke Agency Services Company, LLC in Lakewood, WA. She still works for Brooke Agency Services Company, LLC in Lakewood. Mr. Lindt arranged for Ms. Grothe and Mark to meet at the dealership. Ms. Grothe then drove Mark to her office in Lakewood to process his insurance paperwork on a 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer with an effective date of March 8, 2005. Mark did not acquire a drivers license until March 22, 2005. In addition to Mark buying insurance from Brooke Agency effective March 8, 2005, US Bank placed insurance on the car effective February 27, 2005, known as Single Interest Insurance and good for the life of the loan, all at Marks expense. Mr. Lindt informed Mark that the paperwork was not complete until April 6, 2005. The car remained on the dealers lot until April 6, 2005, when Mark picked up his car. The dealership, MILES Program and Ms. Tambra Grothe, all feed on Mark to sell their services.
Now we have MAC. MAC according to their website, serves as a liaison between Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS), Military Members, Military Housing Offices and Private companies nationwide by providing custom electronic interfaces and fund movement services. MAC is owned and operated by the Fort Knox National Bank. The vast majority of creditors MAC represents are car dealerships. MAC attaches undisclosed fees to their process adding an additional unforeseen deduction from our service members often-depleted bank accounts.
Mark felt over his head making it easier to just pay instead of fight because he didnt know who or how to fight. Like so many others I suspect! Once the system has begun to tap into the service members pay account (DFAS) the service member losses control of the fees and withdrawals recognizing they are in a perpetual state of debt.
When questioned about these fees MAC states they can charge what ever fees they feel is necessary with no recourse for the service member. MAC charges fees for everything! Sadly, much of MACs corporate officers are veterans and the association to Department of Defense is no mistake. It is meant to mislead the service member into believing they are powerless to change this abusive practice because our government oversees it.
After reviewing Marks payment requirements upon his deployment to Iraq I questioned a late fee charge on his loan account. This is when I learned that US Bank MILES Program had been charging Mark a late fee for 18 consecutive months without notice.
This was supposed to be absolutely avoidable because his payment was automatically deducted through MAC. US Bank, The MILES Program, MAC and the dealership all stonewalled me by either refusing to answer my questions, stated that they lacked any knowledge of the program or passed me on around in an effort to wear me down so that I would give up.
Eventually I found someone who could answer my questions. According to an employee of US Bank, all MILES Program car loans are set up to be intentionally late. The MAC allotment form filled out and signed by the service member states a start date. The actual withdrawals occur after that date and place the service member into a constant delinquent state. It appears the source of this delinquency occurs between the MILES Program and MAC. As well the notification process to service members of their delinquency status fails both from MAC, which states that they charge an undisclosed fee to service member requesting an account statement and the MILES Program US Bank which limits notification to a limited notification process that consists of a statement that is unclear and misleading.
The employee went on to state, The service member is never told that they have to make the first payment and there is a limited number of attempts to contact the service member of their delinquency. The employee explained that the attempts are made through a monthly account summary that is sent to the address on file. The late fee notice is hidden in this summary, in small print and not clearly defined. The employee also stated, The service member is also not informed that they dont have to us MAC to process their loans. They can set up payment through MyPay.
The car dealerships that surround military installations promote US Banks MILES Program, (http://usmiles.com/index.php?s=&url_channel_id=43&url_article_id=184&change_well_id=2)
as the service members best option because of their guaranteed financing, supportive position of active duty military and US Banks national recognition as the sixth largest bank in America. A service member only has to show some interest in purchasing a vehicle from one of these dealerships to find himself/herself whisked away by the ease and convenience of the purchasing process. Dealership salespersons and MILES Program staff associate with the service member through military duty, terminology and knowledge of life in the military to lure the service member into believing the Program is overseen by the Department of Defense therefore they assume they are protected. This assumption allows the dealership and MILES Program to push through increased purchase prices, undeclared fees and unexplained charges incorporated into a loan that exceeds the service members ability to pay. This is coupled with the deliberate establishment of late payroll deductions established through MAC at the request of the MILES Program. We have seen these practices in the Mortgage industry. They're called predatory lending! These processes are an algorithm to tap into the service member's payroll and deduct undisclosed fees and charges. Through the layers of roadblocks e.g. fees to acquire the information, unknowledgeable individuals, run around for information, requests for information never provided, referring back to parasitical partners, giving incorrect answers, being told, that's the way it is giving the service member no resolution but the problem persists. This layering of services makes it impossible for an active duty service member to ever get a complaint addressed; it lacks transparency and is meant to protect the parasitical practices by serving as a barrier.
There is no greater sacrifice an individual can make to his or her country in a time of war than to volunteer for service. We owe them our protection from parasitical practices that would take advantage of the vulnerability these individuals are exposed to through their service. Often our young service people are relocated to states they are unfamiliar with and away from the security of their families. This vulnerability makes them easy targets for these parasitical organizations to step all over their legal rights through the appearance of following legal procedure. In the process our service members are left broke and in debt unable to legally challenge what has been done to them. It is here our government needs to step up to plate and protect those who serve.
Nikki AND MARK