By Willy Staley  Sun Jan 1, 2012

Make a Viral Video, Get Your Loan Approved

YouTube is a great resource for videos of stupid kittens and stupider people, and everything in between. It has made stars out of weirdos, misguided teenagers, and literally dozens of cats just for the fact that it’s a great way to waste time. But it’s not completely useless. A Georgia couple recently made a music video beseeching Bank of America to close on their mortgage so they could move into their home — and it actually worked!

In the future, will we all have to degrade ourselves to get a loan? Hopefully not. (And in this couple’s defense, the song isn’t too bad.) It isn’t promising that the bank chose to close the loan after their social media team got hold of the video, not after the couple’s repeated attempts to contact their branch through traditional customer service pathways.

The couple, Ken and Meredith Williams, had applied for a 203k FHA loan, so they may finance necessary repairs to the home. According to the video, and the website the couple made to accompany it — Close Our Loan — the house is “cheap” and the couple’s credit score is 798, well above average. And still, Bank of America kept pushing back their closing date, putting their deal at risk for a variety of reasons, and often offered lame excuses for not returning phone calls.

The Williams were pre-approved for their loan in July of this year, according to a timeline posted on their site, and were initially offered an October 7th closing date. Then the delays began. So they made a website and posted the accompanying music video on December 11th, after waiting for more than two months and facing fees stemming from the bank’s delays.

“Why can’t a house go fast when a buyer’s got cash, pre-approval and two cats?” croons Ken in the video, playing to YouTube’s strengths, before getting into the bridge: “Bank, you’ve got to close this loan…”

According to the timeline the Williams posted on their website, Bank of America’s social media team contacted them the following day, and their loan closed by the 16th of this month. Leading up to the release of the music video, the Williams’ dealings with Bank of America’s loan officers had been getting increasingly confusing and Kafkaesque. They had no idea what was going on.

They got their loan eventually, but this doesn’t mark a victory for the Williams or consumers or Bank of America. Traditional methods of dealing with loan origination and customer service completely broke down, and this couple had to make a cheesy YouTube video to get corporate higher-ups’ attention. A social media component of customer service is important for a bank to have, but not at the expense of treating their customers fairly at every other point of interaction.

But that will be the Williams’ problem from here on out, as they acknowledge in the song: “We can sign the papers and grab a beer, then you take my money for 30 years.”

Will Bank of America even be around long enough to transfer title to the Williams when they finally pay off their loan?

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