Archive for December, 2011

MetLife Home Loans: BAD IDEA

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

I recently worked with an independent broker to refinance my condo’s mortgage. The broker had locked me in to a good rate with MetLife.

During the refi process, I was notified that I would have to increase the insurance on my condo to 20% of its appraised value. This was due to one line of wording in our condo association’s documents that stated that the master insurance policy was “all-in, minus betterments and improvements.” I was told that because the policy wasn’t “all-in [period],” I’d have to take out this extra insurance.

This didn’t make any sense because, barring some wood floors that were refinished by a previous owner, there had been absolutely no betterments and improvements on my condo since construction. So what exactly was I being asked to insure? Nothing, but I was told that this was non-negotiable, even after getting a letter from my condo policy insurer that there was absolutely no question of coverage of my personal belongings and the aforementioned floors.

I talked to a lawyer who informed me that MetLife’s practice is actually illegal. You cannot ask someone to insure something that does not exist or double-insure the same property. If you do, then this is an incentive to – as crazy as it sounds – burn down your house for insurance. Still, MetLife would not budge. With the prospect of having to pay hundreds in unnecessary insurance indefinitely, I had to stop the refi process, losing out on hundreds in fees.

This ended up being a blessing in disguise because I immediately started the process over again with a local bank. For them, there was no question: “There are no uninsured betterments and improvements? Then your insurance is perfectly adequate.” After my experience with MetLife, it was a relief to work with someone who was logical and reasonable!

Nigerian spammers’ next target: artists?

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

I recently received an inquiry about some artwork on my online portfolio. The email was very specific, listing individual pieces, and stating that they were for a new library in Lichtenstein (street address and all). I traded emails with “Shan Oakes” and when it came time to ship the work, he suggested I contact a shipping company he trusted. Something was off, so I did some digging and figured out that the email did not come from Lichtenstein but from Nigeria.

I’ve receive tons of these scam letters, but this is the first time someone sought me out personally and with such great detail. If this actually played out, I’m sure this shipping company would’ve asked me for an advance, etc. etc. Luckily it didn’t reach that point. And I still have my artwork!

Full thread:

From: Shan Oakes
Subject: Purchase of Art

Good day,
I am a librarian in a private library here in Liechtenstein and we are looking at equipping and beautifying our Library with artworks of diverse artist in order to lecture and broaden our students horizon on art and culture when they come to the library to study and read books on art and culture.
We will be glad if you can assist us with how to purchase the artworks from your website and we shall make payment immediately with charge card (Visa or Master card)either one you prefer for the purchase before you send the artwork to us.
We anticipate your kindness in assisting us with the purchase.
Sincerely
Shan Oakes

To: Shan Oakes <shanoakes@rocketmail.com>
Subject: Re: Purchase of Art

Hello Shan,
Thank you for contacting me about my artwork. Which were you interested? I’d be happy to speak with you in greater detail about any piece.

From: Shan Oakes
Subject: Re: Purchase of Art

Great hearing from you, I want you to get back to me with the cost of each and shipping cost of the below:

(List of Sculptures)

I want you to get back to me with the cost and shipping of the above so that you can have the credit card to run for the payment.
I will be looking forward to hear from you asap.
Thanks
Shipping Address
Shan Oakes
Gerberweg 10
FL-9490 Vaduz
Liechtenstein

To: Shan Oakes <shanoakes@rocketmail.com>
Subject: Re: Purchase of Art

Hello Shan,
I will have to inquire at UPS and other carriers regarding crating, shipping, and insurance to Lichtenstein. In the meantime, I wanted to give you some other details to help in your decision. Sculpture 1 is approximately 10 lbs (4.5 kgs). Sculpture 2 is approximately 30 lbs (13.5 kgs). I’ve attached some higher resolution photos for your review.
I will get back to you with a more complete quote after I contact some shippers.
Thank you again for your interest, Shan!

From: Shan Oakes
Subject: Re: Purchase of Art

Hi,
How are you doing today,your family and business?
I am okay with the cost of the painting therefore i want you to get them packed.On the shipping,one will have to pay additional fee at the delivery point here in Liechtenstein because they will never bring to ones address. courier like Fedex, UPS are not worth it here especially USPS all of them are not rendering good service here probably because they already known very well.
You can contact this courier Hush Delivery Service (hushdelivery@hush.com) as well with the weight and cost of the artwork for the shipping and insurance to my address because they ship and deliver safely without one paying any other money before collecting the goods unlike some other courier where it will not be delivered to your address rather you will have to go to their office to pick it up and when you get there you will be told to pay other money before collecting it.
I will be looking forward to hearing from you asap.
Thanks
Shipping Address
Shan Oakes
Gerberweg 10
FL-9490 Vaduz
Liechtenstein

To: Shan Oakes
Subject: Re: Purchase of Art

Hello Shan,
Thank you for asking about my family and business. To be honest, not so well. My wife is in the hospital. That is where I was most of today, so I could not respond earlier. Her illness has been a drain on my business so I’m very thankful for your order. It could not have come at a better time.
I wish I’d received your email earlier because I actually took my sculptures to a local shipping company this morning and they said it’d be no problem to ship them to your address. They are packing them and shipping them now through a company called Unishipper and will arrive to you in about 2 weeks. The shipping cost was less than expected, only $100. So as a thank you for purchasing TWO of my pieces, I will cover that cost. Thank you! When you receive them, we can exchange credit card information for the total.
I hope you will take a photo of them in your library for my portfolio since I will probably never see them again in person! Thanks again!
All the best to you.

To: Shan Oakes
Subject: Re: Purchase of Art

Hello Shan,
I just received a notice from Unishipper that my artwork has been delivered. Have you had a chance to inspect it? I hope nothing broke in transit. I have the paperwork ready once you’re ready to settle up our credit card charges.
Nice doing business with you! Again, please take a photo of my sculptures on display so that I can put them in my portfolio.
Thanks.