Small Business Owner; "Chase Forced us Out of Business!"

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By all accounts, big banks continue to be the target of growing public outrage. They keep pitting Main Street against Wall Street and alienating the public in the process. It is easy to find current examples of this outrage against the financial sector.  Complaints from the public  range from lenders and mortgage servicing companies who won't process loan modifications, to credit cardholders fighting for reasonable interest rates and credit limits, to retailers seeking fair swipe fees, to business owners begging for small credit extensions.  Much of the anger is coming from Americans who feel they are being kicked when they're down--by the very people they bailed out with their taxpayer dollars.

The following entry is offered by a small business owner who shares their personal experiences in hopes of finding an end to their current nightmare. If anyone can help them, please leave a comment or email me, and I will put you in touch...  

Guest Blogger: Small Business Owner based in Ohio
Open Plea to Chase Bank: When is enough -enough?
It cannot have escaped any of us that we are living through an extraordinary period in American history --- indeed, world history.  The confluence of economic factors that has brought the entire world to the precipice was unforeseen and unexpected and will be extremely painful to rectify.  At the nexus of this torrent of economic calamity is the subprime mess that we are caught up in.  JP Morgan Chase could have taken the initiative as many large institutions (Bank of America, Wachovia) have in the past few months to retain valuable customers and allow loan income to flow unimpeded by applying a few common sense principles.  Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures and innovative and out-of-the-box solutions, especially for small business who are not receiving a piece of the BAILOUT pie as are the big name banks with the iron fist.

We were small business owners in Ohio.  We had been in business for over 11 years.  During the inception of the business we took out a small loan for $50K from Bank One who later was purchased by JP Morgan Chase, NA.  Our previous loan was paid in full prior to our taking a Line of Credit ("LOC"). Around April of 09 our previous Account Manager ("AM") from Chase started calling, stopping by unexpectedly, and then requesting a meeting.  After 10 years of religious payment on this continuing LOC, we were one day late making our payment and Chase started this fiasco of calling the note that eventually FORCED US OUT OF BUSINESS.

Now comes before us a need to locate an attorney who will fight for our rights and help guide us through this awful mess that Chase is putting us through?  We have been adamantly seeking an attorney who can practice in Ohio.  Who has experience in the following areas: Bankruptcy, litigation, and business?  To no avail we have not been able to locate the "Right" attorney.  We have an urgent need prior to next week.  Please read and respond if interested in legally representing us.

We made the arrangement, per their request, to go to the headquarters and meet with the Account Manager.  At the meeting we discussed several things including that the note would not mature until 2011, that we foreseen that as economic conditions stabilized we would inevitably return to a rosier financial position and our business would again be able to generate revenues that we historically enjoyed. 

And that as a small business, we contributed to the tax base in Ohio and provided jobs for several employees, however, the severe nationwide economic contraction and adverse business conditions in Ohio were impeding our business, and then the BIG WOPPER of a SURPRISE.  The AM said that the instructions were to speed up the note.  Make larger payments.  Be more aggressive in collecting.  We were in shock.  Did he not just hear us explain how difficult the economy's current status had made our revenue stream? 

Even at a time when we've been buffeted by a significant economic downturn, we had maintained our perfect payment history. But that was not enough he continued with explaining that Chase wanted us to quadruple our payments. Unbelievable.
We were not a bad bet.  Before we embarked on the subprime path in order to satisfy a business debt and immense burden imposed by a previous partner, we had a high credit rating (723+).  As small business owners, we knew the value of hard work, prudent risk-taking and ethical conduct.  We were not asking for a handout - simply fair terms. 

We have the know-how, resolve and work ethic to have climbed out of this financial depression.  We had only ask CHASE to extend the good faith that we had extended to them these past few years by continuing with terms that are fair and sustainable.  They could have chosen to do their part to help America retain its leadership position as the engine of economic opportunity and economic optimism, just as America has supported them with the bailout.

INSTEAD, this is what has happened in ONE WEEKS TIME.  The push from CHASE came.  The account was sent to the Loss Mitigation department who quickly suggested litigation for the entire balance. We contacted several attorneys and all 6 attorneys came back with this answer, "In this economy and with your current situation, just file bankruptcy and start over, Chase will be relentless".  They were right.  Wait till you hear later in this article just how relentless they are.

So, we had no choice but to seek out a bankruptcy attorney and start the proceedings.  While this article may be lengthy, it will provide you with a lot of information and hopefully some assistance in making a decision to survive this economic down-turn.  In return for my voice being heard, and hopefully some attorney taking on this case, I would be glad to share the research that I have conducted (approximately 2 months time worth) with those that may be going through the same thing as unfortunate as it is, IT IS.

Having said all of this, the jest of the need is as follows.  We have closed the business in bankruptcy.  CHASE did nothing with the business bankruptcy. No motions, no contesting, NO NOTHING. On the last day available for any objections to the personal bankruptcy (yes, this domino'd into a personal bankruptcy for the owners), an hour and a half (1 ½) before the court closes, CHASE filed two motions. 

All hell broke loose and our seeking "relief" was now turning into what looked like continued harassment on the part of Chase.  It wasn't good enough that they forced us out of business, but now they want to torture us with the broadness of a "Fishing Expedition" as is currently allowed by our justice system.

After reviewing their motions we were stunned. We now realized they were coming after us PERSONALLY -on what they had previously claimed was strictly a business loan. It now appeared that they extended their harassment to us by sending the same correspondence with the motions to three (3) other creditors for which they have no transactions related to the business owners jointly.  Nor did they cc any of the other creditors subject to the personal bankruptcy.  With these tactics they may have jeopardized a work out as allowed by the judge.  I now fear that at least one of the three notified, who were working things out with us, may consider waiting on Chase's efforts to succeed in their objection to our discharge.  Everything we we're working on has come to a halt while we wait to hear if the motion is granted.

We believe it was Chase's aggressive, threatening and intimidating actions and statements that forced us into bankruptcy as it appears they have done to so many other small business owners across America. 

Just look at the Business Week article that talks about a task force that Chase started in March to call in credit lines of businesses whether they were delinquent or not , and /or termed or matured.  This was just before they began calling our note.

With the tactics that they have used during these proceedings, I now question the veracity of the personal guaranty they produced. I have read personal testimonials from people who have worked in banking and have heard the many news reports of the immoral and unethical practices that are routinely committed by banks --and this one is at the bottom of the pile as far as banks go for me.

In addition to my current bankruptcy attorney I now need to engage a litigation attorney to help defend us against these corporate Goliath's. Is someone willing to defend us on these issues?  Why are they allowed to use a personal bankruptcy and a 2004 exam to request all of the business documents when they could have done so during the business bankruptcy?
It is an unenviable feedback loop - we couldn't refinance because our credit rating is so low, but the reason our credit rating is low is because our disposable income is crushed under the weight of an exorbitantly high mortgage rate because of paying a business loan.
Our education, our experience and our capabilities placed us among the work sector that is relatively immune to severe economic slides and we would have been positioned to take advantage of opportunities once the economy recovers.  A cushion of time is all that we needed to continue to make monthly payments to Chase as we worked through this difficult period. That was really all that we were asking for. After all,  they received 40 billion dollars of tax-payer money and their top execs are now about to receive additional fat bonuses for themselves ... awe... let me guess... because of the incredible competence they've displayed for the past several years they deserve bonuses, or because Chase just reported 3.6 Billion in quarterly profits!!!!

We had never missed a payment in 10 years.  The note was not due until 2011.  We could have stayed afloat and continued to make payments to Chase had they not harassed us and forced us into bankruptcy due to a ONE day late payment.

We had every intention to pay Chase back in full but it appears that's not what they wanted. It looks like they wanted us pushed into bankruptcy and then out of business. We just wanted fair play and instead it appears we've been played. I am asking Chase to step up and do the right thing.

When is enough --enough?

It's a sad commentary when a small business asks for a just a little time, and is callously denied. But a mega bank asks taxpayers for billions in bailout funds -and gets it.  We are exhausted -and the clock is ticking until our deadline of next week. We've lost our business and now we are only asking for a fresh start -please give us that.  
Business owners speak out about their own demise at the hand of Chase;

Our Small Business Owner Story - Bank Experience

JP Morgan Chase and WAMU Face More Lawsuits over Freezing Home Equity Loans without Basis

Chase - Credit Line Termination

Chase Manhattan Bank Complaint

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I have been going through a loan modification run around with this bank for months now. I have called over and over and nobody helps my family. They don't care about any of their customers. I was amazed to see the number of complaints out there. We should turn to community banks or credit unions. Anyone old enough will remember that back in the early 80's we were human beings that went directly to our loan officers who knew us. We are only numbers now. We need to go back to the good old days.

I agree and do remember those days! Neither the credit unions or community banks needed taxpayer bailouts either.

Just a couple earlier blogs; As Credit Card Interest Rates and Bank Fees Rise Consumers turn to Credit Unions for Help

And why turning to Credit Unions may be a wise move!

Its hard to believe that they can't find an attorney in Ohio willing to be hired for this matter. Unless it would be a conflict of interest since Chase is also a client?

If you would like to work with Denise on making your story fit on one page, I can include your story in my book (one page for the story, one page for photos of your business including a picture after you shut it down.)

Denise, I hope you don't mind me volunteering you, but I don't want to solicit people who tell their story on your blog by going around you, to be in my book.

In addition, if you want two pages for yourself let me know.

I have called so many attorney's this past week. And right you are. None of them can represent us because Chase is also their client in this area of practice. What are we going to do if we can't find someone to represent us against these giants. We need a tenacious litigator who has experience with bankruptcy and business. PLEASE someone has to be out there that can do this???????????

Allessandro -Thanks much. Never feel that by offering to help people here, that you are soliciting. In fact, the reason I publish their stories is to help raise awareness to these injustices in hopes others will come forward to help them and hopefully work toward solutions.

Feel free to email me and let me know more about your book and what types of stories you are interested in...

The Judge has ruled in favor of Chase to allow their motions without a hearing. ATTORNEY'S in Ohio please contact Denise if you are interested in representing us. We have not heard from anyone as of yet? The time frame has been changed and now we have less than 10 days to prepare. PLEASE, I implore you to respond.

Thanks for sharing with us .Your blog is Very informative...Keep posting

Chase Bank Customer Service complaint RKT
The economy hits hard. I lost work, I was afraid of loosing my home and every else.Got behind in payments.couldnt pay minimum payment of $2860.00 a month.Tried to reason with Chase Cust.Service. CCS.was playing a video game while I was trying to get they’re attention. How did I know they’re were playing a video game? I heard phaser fire into they’re microphone. I had to keep asking CCS. Are you there?,are you there?.When I tried to reason with CCS, they were more interested in playing head games now that I got them off their video game and actually toying with my fears of loosing everything I worked so hard for. I tried to reason with them, My girlfriend tried to reason with them,and American Debt Councelling tried to reason with them to work out a payment plan, not gonna happen. On top of that, I received three different money figures from CCS and from three different CCS representitives. Finally, I told them that they are simply unwilling to cooperate and give me exact money figures on what i owe, and to work with me, so told them that I’ll let the courts make the decision on how much I owe and I can begin payments. This was 4 years ago,I didnt hear a peep out of them for two years, and now, they're collection agency offered three more different money figures to settle in December 2009, depending on how much money I can come up with in one payment ,two payments and three payments. I didnt accept since I am so lost and rreally dont know what I owe. I know that i was paying minimum payment for three years before this. The others worked with me and are taking payments and are being paid. If Chase chose not to screw around, they would have been getting paid as well and all of this trouble would have been avoided. I go to court to go up against Chases attorney alone. May 18,2010

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