My bank is terrible at online banking. I've been trying to make my mortgage payments online, and it has been nothing but a headache. My checking, savings, and mortgage are all through the same bank, so I thought this would be a simple matter. Oh no. I was so wrong. My normal mortgage payment is close to $1100. I normally like to pay $1450 so that I can pay down the principal faster. During the first month of our mortgage, I sent a physical check to my bank for $1450. This worked great. I saw online that my account was credited with a payment for that month, and that the extra was against the principal. Perfect! Later that same month, we received our escrow balance from our previous lender, and decided to apply all of it to the principal of our mortgage. I went online and did the balance transfer: $1800 from checking to mortgage. I thought, "Yeah, our principal is going to go down a lot!" Wrong! Instead of applying $1800 to the principal, $1100 was credited as the following month's payment, and the rest went to the principal. I though, "Well, that is close, and now we can skip a month's payment." I would really have liked to have the principal paid down, but I really wasn't too concerned.
So two months later, we decided to make a large payment so that the principal would get paid down again. We paid $2400 this time, online yet again. A week later I checked our mortgage info. Grrrr!!! They had counted that as TWO payments, and only applied $200 to the principal. I was pretty irate with that, so I called the bank. The operator had no idea why that happened, but suggested that in the future I pay less than two months payments in a single payment, and that it would get creditied properly. This meant making two payments a month, but since it was online, that would be easy enough. He backed out the transaction and gave us our single month's payment, and then $1300 against the principal. Okay, so now we should have our normal monthly principal payments, plus the $2350 of extra principal we had paid for the year.
So now it is December, and we have a January payment coming up. I go online, yet again, and make a payment of $1450. This should be no problem, right? The payment amount is less than two months of payments, and I have not yet made another payment this month. So this should go through just fine. Today I checked our mortgage info. Next payment due: January 1, 2004!!! What!!! That can't be right. So I check the transaction history for the mortgage. All of the $1450 that I paid was put towards principal. What the hell is going on?!?! So I call the bank again. The operator is just as confused as I am. I asked her if there was any way I could specify if I was making a principal payment or a normal payment, and she went to talk to her supervisor. The answer: no. Evidently the transactions are entered online, but then are processed by hand by someone at the bank. That doesn't seem efficient at all! So each person who processes the payment has to make a judgement call on what you wanted to do with your payment. This person saw my payment, and decided that, since I had already paid my December mortgage, that this payment must be principal only. Grr!!! The operator suggested that I wait until the payment due date to make my online payment. My concern there is that 1) I'm going to incur a late fee, and 2) my credit rating is going to get smashed. She eased my mind a bit by telling me that I had a 15 day grace period to make a payment, and if it is done within that time, no mark will be placed on my credit. She also said that credit reporting is not done until the following month, so if there is a problem, I can always call back.
I really wish these folks would get their system in order. They need to clean up the interface so that I can specify how much is principal, if it is a normal payment, and how many payments to spread it across. It is ridiculous that this is not automated. The bank should not be making a best guess each time I make a payment. And I definitely should not have to call the bank every month to straighten out their errors!