I just suffered the ignominy of watching my family minivan be repossessed. Yes, we had suffered financial downturns and yes we were behind in our payments. However, when trouble first started brewing on the horizon, I attempted to negotiate some sort of alternate arrangements with Wachovia to get through the rough patch. EVERY representative I spoke to was curt, dismissive, and essentially gave me the "pay everything or else" message. When I told one particularly rude representative that his tactics and tone were insuring that I would never do business with Wachovia again, his response was "Well, with your payment history, we wouldn't WANT you as a customer." (Of course this was after soaking us with a 15% used car loan!)
Funny, but when my WIFE called a few days later, she was given some latitude and we were able to make a couple of partial payments until another financial downturn.
Finally I had to send a cease-and-desist order because they were calling us 8 - 10/day from 8 AM - 9 PM.
A recent NY Times article highlighted that -- much like doctors who admit mistakes are less likely to be sued -- when financial companies who treat their customers with a modicum of respect and understanding generally have been able to recoup 90% of overdue debts as opposed to the 40 - 45% recovery for the "hard-***" collection agencies.
The rep I spoke to as the repo man was hooking up the car said "Once you sent us the cease-and-desist order" we couldn't talk to you anymore -- which is a blatant lie. The law says they then have to stop CALLING (which they did cut back, but did not stop) and must use WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE, which they did not.
If a utility company can send you a statement in an envelope with a red stripe to alert you to an overdue account, why can't a multi-billion dollar bank (a recipient of TARP funds, no less!)
Finally, to add insult to injury the repo man informed my that Wachovia is BRUTAL in their tactics. When I said to him that my family was stressed to the point of contemplating telling Wachovia to TAKE the car because they would likely get $5, 000 on the $11, 000 note we owe. The repo guy then added, "Yeah, but then they'll go after your house" -- to make sure they make a killer PROFIT. Not a reasonable value for the vehicle but the sheer (high) interest profit.