About 16 years ago, I graduated high school and decided to go to college. Since I didn’t have enough money saved up and didn’t qualify for any significant scholarships, I, like many other students, had to borrow money.
At the time, I did not choose Sallie Mae for the loans and, instead, went through another bank. However, shortly after I graduated, the loans were sold to Sallie Mae and I have had the displeasure of dealing with them ever since.
To be fair, I don’t have a ton of complaints about the company. After all, I was able to get a college education and I have been able to make payment arrangements for my loans that fit my monthly budget. However, a lot of the reason why I don’t have a ton of complaints is I do most of my business with them via their web site and rarely have to talk to any of their employees.
Unfortunately, the few times I have had to do that have really made me hate doing business with this company.
A situation like this occurred as recently as this week. My monthly payment was going to be due soon and I went to their web site to make it like I usually do. This is something that should have taken me maybe five minutes. Instead, it took up a good chunk of my morning.
I entered my login and password on their web site to access my account and was given a security screen that asked for my social security number and date of birth to verify my identity. I was OK with this until it wouldn’t accept either one and told me neither was on file.
I should mention I also had the option to enter my account number on that screen. The only problem with that is I didn’t know it and, because the only thing they ever send me via mail is advertisements, I had no way of looking it up.
Frustrated, I ended up calling their customer service number. I have called several customer service numbers in the past; including a couple banks. I have never had one that was as confusing as the menu I got when I called theirs. I actually ended up calling twice because I got lost and ended up in some section of their menu that didn’t have a single thing to do with me.
The second time I called them, I had a shorter menu because it recognized I had just called and sent me directly to a customer service person. Unfortunately, that wasn’t any better. I could not understand a word she was saying to me because she had a very heavy accent (I couldn’t recognize what it was). Even more importantly, she really didn’t do anything to help me. She verified my information was correct, explained it was likely a glitch with the web site and offered to re-set my password. I declined the last part because I honestly can’t see how that would have helped my situation since it wasn’t the password that was having issues.
As it turns out, the problem was caused by my date of birth. Apparently, when I set up the account, I had a typo and, when I re-entered it later, it obviously didn’t match.
I’ll accept the blame for the typo. But, I am a bit curious why it took three phone calls and an unanswered e-mail to Sallie Mae to get that answered? Both during the time I described above and a second call a day later, the reps asked me what my date of birth was yet, despite comparing it to what I had entered, either never caught they didn’t match or did and didn’t say anything. It wasn’t until the third or fourth call (and, by then, I had the menu memorized) that someone realized what was wrong and gave me the option to cancel my on-line account (it was that or send them proof of my real birth date) and create a new one.
As a result of all of this, my student loan payment is now late. This is because, if I would have paid it over the phone, it would have cost me an extra $14.95 and, to mail it, I would have needed my account number which, again, I wasn’t able to find. Fortunately, I think I’m still paying it in time to avoid a late fee. But, this whole experience has really left me unsatisfied with the service I received.
If you are looking to get a student loan, I would recommend avoiding this company.