Sunday, January 31, 2010

Claws of The Tiger

Born in the year of the ferocious tiger I am but it does not mean I am immuned from the 'Claws of the Tiger', so says the subject heading.

The 'Tiger' I am referring is the financial institutions, the banks that will resort to anything to make sure their borrowers make good their loan payments. Granted, they have to make sure every step taken is as legal as possible but the immense pressure lashed on borrowers who have inevitably fallen on bad time & struggled to meet payment schedule makes no difference to a typical Ah Long's modus operandi. The only distant difference is banks won't throw paint & write graffiti on wall unlike Ah Long. However, their (the banks) soft approach is equally, if not more deadly. This will inevitably drive desperate one to do the unthinkable, sigh!

Naive enough to trust a friend of mine, I agreed to stand as his guarantor for a S$40,000 loan taken with a co-operative in 1999. This friend used to work for a catering & restaurant company as its GM but he got a tad too ambitious and started to venture on own. Almost everything did not go his way from start, and when it dawned upon me, I found myself entangled in this saga that lasted more than 10 years.

Boy, I was mad...really mad at him for subjecting me into this mess of his and thousand of apologies from him can't change the fact that we, the borrowers and guarantors were at the mercy of the financial institution. Not that I did not have enough problems to settle on my own, I was saddled with another big one due to the good faith for acting as his damned guarantor.

Remainder letter came one after another and then demand letter issued by their legal counsel and finally, the court action when this idiotic friend finally stood us up. I had then moved house, didn't get to receive all these remainders and court documents and court judgment was made without anyone of us making presence. That was too easy for the financial institution, whatever costs they had claimed from us...penalty fee, admin fee, legal fee, court fee, compounded interest and what not, these costs simply added up to unbelievable sum.

I was in dire financial situation, my own travel business failed in 2004 and I was already struggling to meet my own financial obligations, let alone worrying for this idiotic friend of mine. I was prepared to be sued bankrupt but I could not stomach the fact that I was to be made bankrupt by the doing of my idiotic friend who did almost nothing to meet his obligations with the financial institution. Then, I felt like 'killing' him and that hatred for him was too much for me to bear at times.

Common sense prevailed...we began to cool down, met up and re-organised in order to meet our financial obligations to keep these predators at bay, at the very least. Back in Nov 2006, we realised we still owed the financial institution more than S$58,000 despite already paid more than S$42,000 though haphazardly. The original loan sum taken by my idiotic friend was only S$40,000 in 1999.

Monthly payment continued and finally, in Nov 2009, the financial institution decided to up our monthly instalment from S$600 to S$1,000 without giving any valid reason. We decided enough is enough, we will 'beg, steal or borrow' to pay this blood-sucking organisation and wanted nothing to do with them, henceforth.

We did our last computation again and on record, we were owing them about S$42,000. We proposed to their management for a lumpsum payment but 'greed' is probably in their blood, they wanted S$39,000 to close this outstanding. Yes, a meagre S$3,000 'so called' goodwill discount after slowly sucking us dry for more than 10 years. Few appeals were made but each time, it was fallen on deaf ear. In my final resort, I issued a challenge to their management that I will take them to court and to make an issue with MAS and I will fight them to the end. They finally agreed to a full & final settlement of S$37,000 which was reluctantly accepted by us. The money came from me, not my idiotic friend or the other two guarantors who were mere spectators while I sparred with this 'ever-hungry' tiger.

For the record and at last count, we had paid the financial institution a total of S$96,092.35 for an original principal sum of S$40,000 taken in 1999. Finally, on 27 Jan 2010, I am just glad and totally relieved this decade-old matter is finally done and over with. This damned financial institution is Telecoms Credit Co-Operative Ltd, an organisation that sucks to the core. Don't expect me to sing praises for this co-operative, I had enough of their legal threats over the years. Facing them or Ah Long, the pressure was just the same except, one is legal and the other is not. Last but not the least, never never agree to act as guarantor...it is not worth the trouble at all.

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