Thursday, August 27, 2009


Woodbridge sauvignon blanc in a Riedel stemless wineglass, "City of Immigrants" by Steve Earle on iTunes. It is 7:30, dinner is over and the kitchen is clean. J is playing a little WebKinz world on the office Mac while I post. Today was as full as yesterday (and the two days before) with two major differences: I am not feeding my child at 9:00 (tonight by 9:00 we'll both be asleep), and I am no longer exhilarated by how many balls I can juggle at a time and how much I am getting done. I'm just tired. Tomorrow I get to see the Niche pieces and take them in to have them photographed, I have a big glass delivery and a small packing supplies delivery scheduled, and I have the two big kiln loads to get in that have been scheduled and slipped off the plate every day since Tuesday. But that's tomorrow. I feel like being Annie and singing about it.

Tonight, however, after a few hours of chasing the ARC loan, I just feel dirty. Why is it that some people react to any situation presented by life with a "what can I get out of this" attitude instead of a "what can I do to help"? People of like minds form groups, communities, organizations and businesses, and the worst of them (let's just say Wells Fargo Bank and appropriately preface the rest of my rant) are always on the look out for way's to turn someone else's misfortune into their gain.

The ARC loan program is a Small Business Administration-backed interest-free loan program to help small businesses which have been profitable in the past couple of years but are now struggling with the downturn in the economy. The SBA has a list of preferred lenders (they sent it to me back in March when I first started looking into the program) and Wells Fargo is one of them. I figured I would call them as they recently acquired my bank, Wachovia, so I have an existing professional relationship with them. The nice young man I spoke to this afternoon asked me some qualifying questions to make sure I was a fit for the program, and said he would have the application emailed to me (and it could take a day as it had to be forwarded). Then after I filled out the application it would take 45 days to process. Wow. The wheels turn more slowly than I would have thought, but okay. I was pleasantly surprised to get the app tonight and I started reading it as I ate my dinner. It's a 25 page document. I didn't get further than the first page as I stopped as soon as I hit the following paragraph:

In addition, Wells Fargo ARC loans cannot be used to pay-down non-
Wells Fargo business lines of credit and business credit cards. (formatting all theirs.)

So here's the deal. Wells Fargo gets a loan guaranteed by the federal government. They get to collect interest on the loan for five years. It's a win-win for them, but they had to go and be greedy and not only get to make money off the government, but they had to keep all the money they get in-house to further secure their existing business debt. In essence the government is bailing out yet another large bank--this time under the auspices of helping out small businesses! It should be illegal for lenders to put this kind of restriction on a government-backed loan (and a preferred lender at that!). I wish I knew someone to call about this in the SBA or *anywhere* who would not only care but be able to do something about it. All I can do is vow never to deal with Wells Fargo again.

Even though they are not a preferred lender for the program, I thought I would give Chase bank a try. I have my business and personal-used-for-business credit cards through them (the same ones I want to pay down with the ARC loan) so maybe they'd work with me. My experience (so far) has been vastly different and I am guardedly optimistic about the possibility of working with them. Their application process is done over the phone whenever I am ready, they don't have restrictions on who the debt is to (outside the basic restrictions of the ARC program--existing business debt only), and it was my impression that it would be handled pretty quickly. We'll see when I get all my paperwork together tomorrow and call them back to actually do it.

Now a shower for me and the Sprout, another chapter of The Dark Hills Divide, and then a long, close look at the inside of my eyelids.


Cynthia Morgan said...

I agree--Wells Fargo is prolly within the letter of the law but doing the skunk-at-a-picnic thing. (And how exactly do they know you paid down anything with THAT money? Does that mean that if you accept the loan you're not allowed to pay your credit card bills? I'd doubt it...)

OTOH, I wouldn't assume that no one would care if you complained. State/local prosecutors are often just dying to get a piece of the financial debacle to show voters how effectively righteous they are (or something). If one of your representatives, governor, etc., has been making noises about punishing banks, you might actually get some action.

Sigh. Ain't the world fun?

Bill said...

I'd complain to your congressperson, and both of your state's Senators; absolutely. Unless those restrictions are part and parcel of the constraints of the law, they shouldn't be able to put any further restrictions on the moneys disbursed.

OTOH, if you can get the loan from a source that you already have a long-time relationship with, then I'd go that route.