The Los Angeles Times dug up a story that we at the Wonk Room think is worth highlighting for our readers about Countrywide Financial CEO, Angelo Mozilo. Making the classic email blunder, Mozilo accidentally hit reply instead of forward in response to a message sent by a Countrywide customer seeking adjustment in the terms of his mortgage. Mozilo replied to the customer by saying:
This is unbelievable [...] Most of these letters now have the same wording. Obviously they are being counseled by some other person or by the Internet. Disgusting.
Dan Bailey, the homeowner who sent the email to Mozilo, didn’t take this response sitting down. Bailey posted Mozilo’s reply, which was reportedly intended as a forwarded to a Countrywide colleague rather than an email to Bailey, on the site that provided Bailey with the email template. He then had this to say:
To have received the e-mail that I did, stating by one of your employees, that what I did was ‘disgusting’ and ‘unbelievable’ has been just about the final straw. I am trying to do the right thing, I am trying with every ounce of what I have left in me not to blow my brains out over losing the home I have been in for 16 years. The only hope I had left was that perhaps the countrywide company did want to help the people it is servicing [...] then I receive that response to my letter. Just great. Now I know, that it is all a nice fat laughing matter to those who are supposed to help.
Mozilo, who collected $132 million in earnings last year amidst a tumbling mortgage market, thousands of monthly foreclosures and record low home prices, apparently sees websites like loansafe.org, whose mission is to offer “free foreclosure help that is based on a support community” as a personal annoyance, rather than a tool to help struggling homeowners. It’s not like Mozilo is offering any alternative, however — the Wonk Room’s examination of Countrywide’s site reveals a glaring lack of advice, or even a system, for borrowers looking to adjust the terms of their loans. It’s too bad that President Bush’s belief is that lenders should work voluntarily with homeowners, because with attitudes like Mozilo’s, it’ll be a while before we see relief to this crisis.
If Mozilo has such a visceral reaction to emails like Bailey’s, then we’d love to see how he’d react to something that is actually “unbelievable” or “disgusting” — like hearing his home was being seized by the bank.