Student Loan Collector v Larissa (showdown no 2)

So, about a week ago, I had quite the back-and-forth communication with one of my student loan collection agencies (the one to whom I owe the most money). Basically, they have all these neat ways for American students living in the United States to pay back their loans. They can sign up for direct debit programmes and get .15% of their debt erased. They can go online and make individual payments. They can send e-cheques. It’s all very convenient for them.

But me?

I get nothing. Apparently, the American banking system is so VASTLY different to the British system that the poor student loan companies simply cannot handle it.

I called them up to describe the issues I was having making an online payment.

“I cannot make an online payment because your website isn’t recognising my sort code.”
“I don’t know what a sort code is.”
“It’s like a routing number, but it doesn’t have as many digits because, well, it’s not American.”
“I’m sorry, you can only make online payments from an American bank account. You’ll have to get a money order every month and send it in the mail to us.”

Now, I wasn’t happy with this. Because, as I’m sure you know, money orders are hugely expensive. Since I owe something obscene like $70,000 to these people, there’s no way I’m going to make that, oh, $75,000 over the life of repayments in the cost of money orders alone.

I sent some obstinate emails.

I received some useless replies.

I got as far as being told that I could send my UK cheque in the post to them every month but that they would cash it at the going exchange rate at the time of its receipt.

Oh, thank you! How gracious of you!

So I am now starting the same process with my other student loan company (no, I haven’t consolidated). But instead of going through the whole song-and-dance a second time, I have just sent an email, pointing out my inability to make online payments and its unacceptability.

I appended the following to my enquiry:

“I would appreciate being given the ability to make online payments, as I plan to avoid sending a cheque overseas in the post to you every month. It is grossly inefficient, cost-ineffective and wasteful of natural resources. Thank you.”

I received an email back immediately… telling me that they’d get back to me in five days. I guess efficiency isn’t something that student loan companies value highly.



  1. buonocibo · March 17, 2010

    Have you looked into a HSBC account in the US that you can transfer money to (from your UK HSBC account)? I am pretty sure my wife did that while she was living in the UK.

    Good luck, and that totally sucks!!

  2. heather · April 23, 2010

    wow, i think we owe the same amount of money and after interest, it’s going to be something like 140,000. i can’t wait. i’m going to also write to my loan companies because i live in south america and it’s a MASSIVE pain in the hole getting money over to the states without paying a fortune. maybe if more of us keep writing letters to the companies they will get something figured out. thanks!

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