Santander ‘s Open Letter to the Repossession and Recovery Industry

computr_ltrGuest Editorial

Santander Consumer USA sent an Open Letter to everyone in the Repossession and Recovery Industry yesterday on March 26th.

Read Here!

While the basis of the letter seemed to be more of a justification of recent changes made by Santander and the negative responses it had received by the Repossession and Recovery Industry, Santander went in to great detail of its relationship and commitment to be compliant with Federal regulations and the CFPB (Consumer Finance Protection Bureau).

Santander did acknowledge that as a financial institution it is ultimately held responsible for the actions of both its aggregators (forwarders) and the recovery agents in the field.  Santander further acknowledged that the costs associated with becoming complaint with the new federal regulations were staggeringly high for both them and the recovery agents.

Santander announced starting April 01, 2013, they would increase their commission/fees to the recovery agent in specific selected services.  While no mention was made by Santander to the amount of increase or to the definition of “specific selected services”; Primeritus Financial Services (who recently came under scrutiny over its new service agreement) announced a $15.00 increase per assignment for Santander accounts to their network of recovery agents. By no means is Primeritus stating this reflects the entire amount being offered by Santander, but simply what they are willing to pass along to the recovery agent.

One of the most contended changes made by Santander in recent months was its capping of consumer redemption fees nationwide to a maximum of $150.00 including vehicle storage, personal property, and administrations fees by recovery agents.

Santander addresses this issue in its open letter citing the Dodd-Frank legislation as its justification and the need in becoming complaint with it.  While the Dodd-Frank Act does mention many of the items cited in the Santander Open Letter, one omitted item from the Dodd-Frank Act is fees for personal property.

While it is true that both the Dodd-Frank Act and the CFPB want standardized fees for redemption’s, Private Property fees are not included.  Actually, the CFPB, siding with recent case law, wants creditors (lien holders) to stay out of the Private Property issue all together. It would seem by getting involved in any manner (including fees or copies of inventory lists, etc.) would not only fall under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, it would also constitute a 3rd party disclosure violation, this time with the creditor/lien holder being the 3rd party. Personal Property is outside the scope of the security agreement between the creditor and consumer. Both the courts and CFPB have kept that the Personal Property has come in to the possession of the repossessor, not as that of a “Bailee” as some might assume, but by default of the process.  Many States have enacted laws governing Personal Property that holds the Repossessor as the responsible prevailing party.

Disclosing Private Property inventory to the creditor, or its aggregators, may open a liability risk beyond measure. What consumer wants their financial institution to have knowledge of their unmentionables left in their car?  What if those unmentionables are not that of the consumers, but the consumers’ friend, relative, or spouse?

Additionally, by dictating Personal Property fees, regardless of amount, creditors and their aggregators will once again step outside of the security agreement, which in turn could constitute a 3rd party debit collection and be in direct violation of the Fair Debit Collection Practices Act.  Unless the repossessor is billing the Personal Property fees directly to the creditor or its aggregate, it would seem much wiser, and less liable,  to stay out such process and allow the court drawn relationship between consumer and recovery agent to continue un-interfered with.

Santander ends its Open Letter acknowledging prior communication barriers with their recovery agents in receiving critical information from Santander.  Recognizing that direct communication between creditor and agent as vital, Santander will be working to streamline its information channels.

While the Santander Open Letter may be criticized by some, at minimum it represents a willingness to communicate with those that serve them and an acknowledgement by a major lender of the importance in strengthening its relationship with the Repossession and Recovery industry.

Alex1

Alex Allen,

General Manager

Anytime Recovery

Lake Worth, Florida

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2 thoughts on “Santander ‘s Open Letter to the Repossession and Recovery Industry

  1. Alex, this is a very important message and you delivered it perfectly.

    Santander’s willingness to communicate with those that serve them is the only way we can all get past the “JUST SAY NO” answer we continue to hear over and over. They are a major lender of importance so by strengthening our relationship with them it will go along way for all of us in the Repossession and Recovery industry.

    A few years ago we invited Santander to NARS and they came. We may not have liked their message, and we may not agree with their open letter to our industry either, but they continue to leave the door open. Just saying NO is not the answer to our problem. This is why we invite everyone to come to NARS, where together we can send a reply that will speak to these important issues of our time. Thanks again Alex, your letter was timely and well done…

    Art Christensen

  2. We work for two Santander branches, one direct and the other indirect. The direct one are cars, trucks and vans and the indirect are buses, motorhomes or large size or commercial collateral. They have never asked us to cut our bills and it is greatly appreciated. We do provide top-notch service by answering the phone M -F (9 AM to 5PM,) reports are sent in a timely manner and we actually have some personal relationship with the collectors. Recently one of the collectors (direct) moved to another department and she introduced us to the new collector and it was a very smooth transaction.
    As many people know when there are changes the new person may have a relationship with another repo company and out the door goes your business with them. So, I can only hope our good standing continues.
    Thanks Alex for a good editorial.

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