One of the blessings that has come from our whole apartment-we-were-moving-into-didn’t-have-a-certificate-of-occupancy-and-we-didn’t-find-out-until-we-had-moved-out-of-our-other-apartment-so-now-we’re-living-at-my-parents’-for-the-summer debacle is an increased cash flow, which means D and I can take this time to get our fiances in order and pay off our debt. My first order of business in doing this was paying off the remainder of my student loan, so I can officially say the degree that I earned is mine, and no longer partially owned by Sallie Mae.
I paid off the balance in May and excitedly waited for the “Congratulations–we no longer own your soul!” e-mail, but it never came. I finally logged back into my account to admire the zero balance and found that even though my payment had been processed before the actual due date for the loan, I was still charged interest on the balance. The amount? 2 cents.
I was slightly annoyed by this, slightly amused, and debated how to handle the remaining balance. Should I just go ahead and pay it online? Send them 2 pennies in the mail? Write a 2-cent check and mail it along with a snarky little letter? Or maybe not pay it at all and see what would actually happen… (I imagined one day I’d end up being featured on the yahoo main page for “weird but true” news stories: “Woman’s 2-cent student loan balance accrues to $10,000 after not being paid for 40 years”).
I finally decided to just bite the bullet and pay the pithy amount, and hope my opportunity for 15-minutes of internet fame would come elsewhere (and hopefully not come by way of arrest/public “wardrobe malfunction”).
However, I realized paying this amount would not be as easy as I expected…When I tried to pay the amount online, Sallie Mae’s automated system informed me that it could not accept payments less than a dollar. Fine, I grumbled, as I then entered in $1 payment, figuring the 98 cents would be my gift to them (because really, don’t they deserve it for all their hard work gouging us in our pursuit for higher education?)
I was then informed that I could not pay over the amount due on my loan. Suddenly, I found myself in a Mexican standoff with my payment options. I considered the 2-cent check option, but realized I would be paying more for the stamp than the cost of the actual loan payment.
I decided to email their customer service department regarding my woes.
A couple days later, I received an email from Sallie Mae congratulating me on paying off my loan. It indicated that I would be receiving my confirmation information shortly. Good for you, Sallie Mae customer service representative, I thought, way to rationally handle this issue.
After a week went by with still no “You did it!” email or letter, I decided to log back in my account, hoping to admire my zero balance, but instead I found those 2 rogue cents were there–waiting for me, taunting me–daring me not to pay them.
I ended up calling Sallie Mae’s customer support system directly. When the representative got on the phone, I explained the situation, explained how I had attempted to pay, explained how I was unable.
“I understand what you are saying, ma’am, but you are still charged interest on the balance, which must still be paid.”
I explained that I did, indeed, understand that, but reiterated once again how their online system was making it impossible to do so.
“Can I just give you my card number now so you can take my 2-cent payment?”
“I can, ma’am; however, we charge a $14.95 processing fee for online payments.”
This is when I officially lost it.
“So, what you’re telling me is I can’t pay online, and I will incur a $15 charge if I make my 2-cent payment over the phone?? Please, then, tell me what I should do. Should I mail you the 2 pennies, because I will do that.”
There was a brief moment of silence. I believe I could sense her fear–clearly, this was not covered in the sheet of required responses to customer queries she was regurgitating to me to the point of obscenity.
“Could you please hold while I discuss this with my manager?” she asked, tensely.
A few minutes went by before she got back on the line to inform me that as a “courtesy,” they would be waiving the 2 cents and that my loan would now be considered paid in full. For the 2nd time.
I checked on my account a couple hours later, and it still is showing I owe the money.
I’m hoping this is just because it will take some time for their system to update and does not mean I will have to put in another phone call, another customer service email, another moment of my time trying to get this fucking situated.
I will guarantee though that if it’s not resolved, I will be mailing the 2 pennies along with a very colorful letter providing them with my two cents on the matter…