CitiMortgage Complaint - CitiMortgage can be sued in Small Claims Court
How to bring small claims actions against corporations.
With apparent impunity, many large corporations (including financial institutions, computer manufactures, and others) in recent years have blatantly defrauded and cheated consumers. Although not widely recognized, claims against these corporations can be expediently and inexpensively executed in local small claims courts.
I have successfully filed and prevailed in small claims against two corporations: (1) Hewlett-Packard, and (2) CitiMortgage. The Hewlett-Packard case involved a defective laptop computer and is reported in http://www.my3cents.com/showReview.cgi?id=29499. The essence of the CitiMortgage case (completed Oct 2011) was as follows: CitiMortgage (1) promised a refinance loan, but subsequently defaulted on delivering the loan, claiming that the promises of their sales agent were not binding, and (2) attempted to direct me to a more expensive loan using a bait-and-switch tactic. Repeated complaints to them of their illegal acts were to no avail. I filed a small claims action against them for the present value of the difference between the promised refinance loan and the original loan.
The process of filing a small claims court action is quite simple and is generally explained in consumer-friendly brochures that are available at your local court house. In California, small claims can be made for up to $7500. The claims process is as follows:
• First, make all reasonable attempts to resolve the matter with the defendant.
• If the above fails, send the defendant a written letter via certified, return receipt, mail making your demand for payment. State in the letter that should you not get a response within 7 days, you will file suit against them. Send the letter to the “Agent for Service of Process.” In order to do business in a state, a corporation must have on file with the secretary of state, the address to which legal notices must be sent. It is important to get this address. In California, it can be determined quickly from the secretary of state web site.
• Absent a response in the specified time, fill out a claim form (provided by your small claims office). Take the form to the court, pay the filing fee (about $50 in California, depending on the amount of your claim), and summit it. The court will provide a summons and schedule a hearing date. You will need to have the summons delivered to the Agent for Service. In California, this can be easily done by paying the court a fee of $10 to take care of the delivery. This fee and the filing fee are recovered when you Win the case.
• Appear on the day of the hearing prepared to present your case to the Judge.
A week or so before the scheduled hearing the defendant will probably contact you and try to reach a settlement. In the case of my above-mention suit against Hewlett-Packard, they quickly agreed to pay my requested damages without going to court. In the case of my suit against CitiMortgage, they called nearly every day and essentially tried to bluff me into giving up and accepting less that I requested. The day before the hearing, they offered to pay the full amount, but wanted me to agree that they were not at fault (making their payment a taxable income event to me). I refused this. We proceeded with the court hearing and the Judge ruled that they were at fault and must pay in full my requested amount.
Although in past decades Government consumer protection agencies looked after the little guy against the large corporations, today there is virtually no such protection. Fortunately, the small claims route offers a means of obtaining justice, for claims up to $7500 (in California). As a matter of principal, more consumers should exercise their rights using this vehicle to fend off the abusive behavior of corporations. Also, please note that the small claims process works for internet purchases and other transactions that a consumer executes from his/her home city. Assuming that the defended is registered to do business in the state, the local small claims court has jurisdiction.