Treating the customer like crap? Wouldn't be Prudent(ial)…

This morning, I called Prudential (they “think beyond retirement products and services”) for a PDF to be emailed to me (I wanted some information on my account).  The gentleman that I spoke to was friendly and polite and promptly sent me the form and promised that it would arrive within 10 minutes.  It did.

Kinda.  The email arrived, but with it, no PDF.  Just a garbled message like this:

Attempt # 1
Attempt # 1

When I realized that I didn’t have my PDF, I regretted hanging up before checking my email.

I called back after lunch and spoke with a less than friendly (rude) Prudential representative.  She assured me that the problem was on my end and that I should go down to the library to retrieve the email.  I tried to explain to her the wonderful advancements made in web-based email, but she, rude as ever, told me that I would have to try from a different computer.

Unfortunately for her, I was talking to her on a phone that could also check my email.  Humoring her (and myself), I checked and quickly saw *gasp* that the message was garbled- that there was no PDF to be seen.  I quickly explained to her that this was not a workstation problem and that there was no need for me to drive down to the library- that the problem was likely on their end, since both “computers” couldn’t retrieve the PDF.

See?  Doesn't work!
See? Doesn't work!

She became exasperated at this point (we had some issues, also, with communicating exactly how you spell “hyper”, as in “hypernayte”, which is part of my email address.  I told her that I thought that there was a problem with whatever mechanism they used to send email to my gmail address.  She became angry at my assertion and started cutting off my sentences (I had actually been pretty friendly up to this point).

I had her send it, finally, to my work email address (which is not gmail-based).  It worked.  I started to tell her that she should check into the issue, that all of her gmail customers probably couldn’t retreive their PDF’s from Prudential.  She again berated me for my suggestion and we hung up.

At this point, I was curious.  I emailed the PDF from my work email to one of the earlier (failed) email addresses.  It showed up, perfectly.

Here’s what it looked like:

See?  See?  It wasn't the computer, after all!  Hmmm...unless is was my friendly Prudential reps computer...
See? See? It wasn't the computer, after all! Hmmm...unless is was my friendly Prudential rep's computer...

So it works, after all.  Just happens to be that it can’t be sent by Prudential.

So Prudential, next time a little faith in your customer.  Fix your system.  Don’t blame the customer.  You know, basic customer service stuff.

Ocwen, day two

8:50 AM:  Was finally able to log into the website, but learned that these guys, too, want me to use Internet Explorer.  Wow.

I hate IE
I hate IE

So I’ll try it, again, with IE.

Apparently, the account number that TB&W (the cranky woman) gave me is not valid.  I’m not as shocked as I should be.

It's not going to be easy to pay my morgage, apparently.

So, dutifully, I call Ocwen and sit on hold, listening to a perky tune.

9:08 AM someone answers (possibly India?), who’s name I can’t understand (I ask later and learn that it’s Roshan).  I explain that I think that the account number that I have is invalid.  I’m quickly put on hold with another crappy KennyG-like “artist” (what is it with smooth jazz and mortgage companies?)

At 9:20, I find out that I’m being charged a late fee (saw this coming) of 52 dollars.  I ask to be transferred to his manager.  He tells me that his manager is going to tell me the same thing.  So I asked to be transferred to his manager.

I explain that because they bought my loan, they are responsible for taking care of the previous companies’ responsibilities (namely, the responsibility of allowing me to make a payment, like when I can’t get through after an hour 1/2 on hold or a website that locks me out).

9:25 AM:  Roshan comes back on to tell me that the late fee was from before July or August.  I contended that the late fee would have shown up when I went to make payment in July.  He puts me back on hold to “verify” the information.

9:28 AM:  Roshon drops my call.

9:45 AM:  Find a couple of United States numbers.  One looks like it could be corporate.  The other claims to be the CEO of Ocwen.

9:55 AM:  I called 407.737.5000 (the corporate #) to see if could talk to someone, but an automated voice claimed a wait time of 64 minutes or more.  This is discouraging, to say the least.

10:00  AM:  The good news, if there is any, is that I apparently use Firefox on my Mac to make a payment.  The bad news- they charge 10 dollars to do it.

How to get in touch with your new mortage company

11:52 AM:  Called Ocwen

11:53 AM:  Receive a message that Ocwen is closed, due to technical difficulties.

11:53 AM:  I Start to panic.


12:11 PM:  Calling the BBB…

12:19 PM:  Losing my faith in the mortgage industry (haha)

12:55 PM:  Been trying to load for 10 minutes, now.

Ocwen down, too.
Ocwen down, too.

At 5:37 PM, it’s not any better…

Website issues

I called the main number, again, but this time got a slightly different message:  “We are closed for the rest of the day, due to technical difficulties.”  Geeeeez…..

How to get in touch with your (defunked) mortgage company

Taylor Bean & Whitaker is our mortgage company.  So far, getting in touch with Taylor Bean is a lot like getting in touch with your typical mortgage company- they won’t pick up the phone, their automated phone system is down most of the time, and their website requires that you use Microsoft IE.  So if you have a Mac, you’re FOL (Flat Out of Luck).  Actually, I think that most morgage companies allow you to navigate their website without constantly getting kicked out, having to change your password, waiting long periods of time for password confirmation change emails, etc.  TB&A are not too excited to let me make a payment on time…

And that’s where the crux of my issues lays- A couple of days ago, I wanted to make a payment.  I tried, unsuccessfully for an hour.  During the hour,  became late and I

Let’s see what it takes to get in touch with them, over the phone, today.

9:46 AM:  Called, busy signal

9:51 AM:  Still busy signal

10:05 AM:  Still busy

10:12 AM:  Busy signal

10:22 AM:  Busy

10:27 AM:  Busy

Now, this is me trying to call every 5 minutes.  Maybe I’m required to call every couple of seconds to get through.  I’d say 5 minutes of this is about as much as I’m willing to try to get in touch with TB&W.

Starting at 10:29 AM:  Busy

HOLY CRAP!  I am holding, now!  10:31 AM, I actually got into the phone system.  Now, let’s see what it takes to get a live person on the phone.  Keep in mind, we are 45 minutes into the process.  I wonder how many other people are in queue.

“We are currently experiencing heavy call volumes”, etc., etc.  Also a man, every 6 seconds says “Please continue to hold”.  So far, these guys are pretty dang annoying to get on the phone.  I wonder how helpful they’ll be if I can get a live person.

I was just prompted to press “2”, to make a payment.  So I hit “2”.  Here we are, again, with the same drone stating: “Please continue to hold”.

10:39 AM:  Prompted to enter my loan #, followed by pound sign.  I don’t have my loan number, so I don’t enter one.  Soon, I’m told, again, to “Please continue to hold”.  So at this point, I’m back in the queue…but now I’m actually given an estimate as to when I’ll get to talk to someone.  I’m told “15 minutes”.

Wow.  Seriously?  How do the elderly, the technically difficient and ordinary people get through to these guys?  I can’t do it.

At 10:41 AM, I’m told that they are experiencing heavy call volumes.  I’m told too call back later and The Voice says “Good bye”.  Apparently, though, I was not disconnected.  I am now on hold listening to some quasi-Kenny G crap for music.  I’m an hour into this process.

10:43 AM, I’m reminded that if I want to make a payment, review my account, etc., I can do so from the web.

For your viewing pleasure, a snapshot from my Mac that shows that I cannot make a payment, review my account, etc., from their horribly crafted website,

This snapshot was taken after about 30 minutes of trying to "trick" them into letting me view my mortgage balance
This snapshot was taken after about 30 minutes of trying to "trick" them into letting me view my mortgage balance and make a payment

10:44 AM:  I’m reminded that my call will be answered in the order that it was received.

10:49 AM:  Back to wanna-be Kenny G music.

This phone system is about as random as it gets.

10:56 AM:  Music stops, The Voice pops in to reaffirm everything all over again:  They’re busy, I can use their website, etc.”, then puts me back to that horrible music.

11:04 AM:  A snapshot from my phone while waiting…

Still waiting...
Still waiting...

We’re almost at 1 and a half hours, still trying to get in touch with TB&W.

11:08 AM:  I make a bowl of cereal, because I think that I’d starve before they’d get to me.

11:12 AM:  Eat my cereal and try to remember what a human voice sounds like.

11:13 AM:  Continue to work, because while employees at TB&W aren’t required to pick up the phone, I am.

11:14 AM:  Turn down the hold music, which is on speakerphone, a little, since I don’t want their crappy saxophonist to blow out a tiny iPhone speaker.

11:15 AM:  Played a little game, wherein I hold my breath until someone comes on the line.

11:16 AM:  Almost died.  No more games.  I have children to raise.

11:23 AM:  I get someone named Linda answers the phone!!!

Verified my Social, home phone, etc.

Find out my loan was transferred to Ocwen!!!!!!

800-74-ocwen is the number.

Apparently, it transferred on August 5th.

I hate the no-longer existant TB&W
I hate the no-longer existant TB&W

Taylor Bean and Whittaker is dead.  They are no more.  Linda tells me that we didn’t pay last months’ payment (which we did) and we argue.  In the process she tells me that she is getting her paycheck from the Federal Government, because she is no longer employed by TB&W.

We argue about whether or not TB&W’s website should have a notice that they’ve closed shop, etc.

I tell her I’m sorry that she lost her job, but give her an earful because this is not the first time that an employee of TB&W has been unhelpful.  Then I feel bad because she lost her job.

Installing PFSense 1.2.2 on a PDS-2300 Instrusion box

My friend from work gave me a PDS-2300 Intrusion box.  He told me that he had gotten M0n0wall to run on it, but that there might be a little bit of a kernel recompile to make it output to serial (so we can use Hyperterm to configure it).  It would be ideal to be able to use this PDS box, because the PFSense box that I’m using at home is 5 times as big and a little loud.

I’d been working on that for a few days, but to no avail.  I just can’t seem to get the image to copy properly to the CF card and also can’t seem to get it to pop up in Hyperterm.
So, for kicks, I decided I’d try to image my CF card with PFSense (which is what I’m currently using at home, anyway).  I chose the 1.2.2 Embedded image.  Here is a rundown of what it takes to get PFSense on the PDS (I did some of this from a Mac, so you might have to adjust some of this):

1.  Download the PFSense Embedded image from to your Mac.

2.  Image the CF Card with that image.

From my Mac, I identified the CF card reader by popping it into a USB slot on my Mac, going into Disk Utility, selecting the reader from the left menu, right-clicking, choosing “Information”, and took note of the “Disk Identifier”.

3.  From a Terminal prompt on your Mac, run:  gzcat /path/to/downloaded/image/pfSense-1.2.2-Embedded.img.gz | dd of=/dev/nameofdisk (where nameofdisk is the disk name that we retrieved from Disk Identifier.  This should flash the drive with the PFSense image to your CF card.

4.  When it’s done, eject that CF card properly and install it in the PDS-2300.  In my configuration, there is no hard drive installed- only the CF card.

<At this point, I switched to a Windows laptop, since my Mac doesn’t have a serial port.>

5.  Connect a null modem cable between the PDS and your Windows laptop.  Launch Hyperterm with these settings (I used COM1):

Bits per second:  9600
Data bits:  8
Stop bits:  1
Flow control:  Hardware

6.  Boot up the PDS and configure.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at:

nathan at nelsonshack dot com