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Country Wide Loans - Countrywide Home Loans - Countrywide Home Loans: Do They Really Suck?

Do They Really Suck?

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The American financial system is making our whole country nervous. You can see it most vividly in the outbursts—massive protests led by people who, despite their fervor, seem to know just as little about how it all works as the rest of us do.

Take, for example, Countrywide Home Loans. If you type it into Google, you start out with a few hits from Bank of America who—thanks to optimized use of keywords and advertising agreements with Google—is guaranteed the first couple hits. Scroll down to the bottom of page one and top of page two, though, and you’ll see some unnerving consumer sites, the loudest of which is named Country Wide Home Loan Sucks.

I wonder how much this site has cost Countrywide. How many people clicked that URL, read the introduction, and then moved on to another home loan lender? How many people got wrapped up in the site’s numerous stories like little episodes of Dateline? Moreover, how does this combine with people’s general anziety about financial matters in the wake of Enron, Bernie Madoff, the housing crisis and the recession? Has Bank of America lost millions of dollars? Billions?

Ultimately, do they deserve to?

Countrywide Home Loan Sucks (CHLS) is not an attractive site. The owner’s personal story reads like a pop-up window, with bold, oversized, red-and-black fonts which all insist that Countrywide Home Loans are an affront to the American way of life—punctuated by the waving American flag on their start page. The bias is constant: Countrywide doesn’t have managers, it has “so-called managers”; they don’t just make mistakes, “their employees lack integrity.” You can even “file your complaint for JUSTICE” sic by clicking on links to reputable law firms like BigClassAction.com and MyClassActionLawsuit.com.

CHLS features a collection of stories from several people who’ve had trouble with Countrywide Home Loans. In reading these emails, I find myself thinking of my co-workers, all of whom seem to have a story about how they were cheated by this or that financial institution. Yet, these same co-workers cannot tell me what the letters “APR” mean, much less articulate their long term financial goals. When it is so much easier to blame a faceless corporation than lay claim to one’s own mistakes, copies of emails do little to convince of an institution’s merits.

There’s money to be made in sites like CHLS, as well. The Ripoff Report offers a guide to making them, as well as a FAQ which has advice for setting up your own class action lawsuits and making a little money on the side. “Your Ripoff Report,” they write, “will be discovered by millions of consumers… within just a few days or weeks, your report may be found on search engines when consumers search, using key words related to your Ripoff Report.” With over 500,000 reports filed and two advertising windows on each screen, this translates into big bucks for those in the business of archiving complaints.

Consider also the name My Class Action Lawsuit dot Com. Adding “My” to topics is a naming trope so old that’s it’s starting to become cliché, beginning with “My Computer” and continuing all the way to “Myspace.” The idea was trendy once, as it represented the joy of owning a first personal computer and a first website. But there is a line to self-indulgence, and though I’m not sure exactly where it is, I’m pretty sure it’s a few steps behind mass legal action.

Even if these are scams, though, Countrywide has earned a dubious reputation in the past five years. In the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis, Bank of America purchased Countrywide for four billion dollars. Rather than leaving Countrywide and its numerous debtors to fend for themselves, it took over and is seeking to correct a damaged system rather than scrapping a ruined one. Whether Bank of America will deliver on their promises has yet to be determined, but sites like CHLS certainly aren’t making their job any easier.

Anxiety over financial scandals has made us hypersensitive to consumer whistle-blowing. Though class-action lawsuits and consumer reports are important parts of American capitalism, they too are not without corruption. Sites like Countrywide Home Loans Suck, My Class Action Lawsuit, and Ripoff Report tempt consumers with a way to avoid personal responsibility while making money in the process. They are appealing to the least common denominators of an overly litigious culture, the kind of culture that has spawned such embarrassments as suing McDonald’s over not explaining that coffee is hot. Winning a case against a major corporation has become like winning the lottery, and it is a lottery which Countrywide Home Loans Suck has won.

Countrywide Home Loans are not the strongest name in the market right now, and consumers would be smart to approach them with a degree of skepticism. They should not, however, let themselves be manipulated by another big business, one which is similarly lucrative and twice as slimy—the business of consumer complaint.

Do Countrywide Home Loans really Suck? No. They might not be good for your needs, or you might reject them out of principle for their involvement in the mortgage crisis, but they are not staffed by Third Reich. They are a business identity like any other.

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