The homeowner presented them a bill of 18K for her loss and they are now trying to hondel her, demanding receipts and not so subtly accusing her of all sorts of nefarious behavior.
They say that they acted in good faith. Why, the grass at the home was overgrown, the door was unlocked and the utilities were turned off. Officials said they simply discarded what was assumed to be trash and abandoned items. You call that crap possessions? Show us receipts for the stuff and we can talk but we are not about to pay retail.
The homeowner, a nurse with children named Katie Barnett, might even be (shudder) a divorcée. Town chief of police doesn't want to get involved, says the case is closed, not smart to go up against the big local bank if you live in a little town. This incident strikes deeply in an american psyche that has long held that the family home is inviolate.
The bank put out this statement on its website today:
A message from Tony Thorne regarding current news stories about our bank
July 25, 2013
The First National Bank of Wellston is a 127-year-old locally owned independent bank serving Jackson and Vinton Counties in Ohio. With two banking offices and 36 employees, our mission is to serve the banking needs of the people and businesses in our local communities.On June 18, 2013, two representatives of the First National Bank of Wellston were assigned to clean and refurbish a bank-owned residential property. Regrettably, the GPS locator they used to find the property led them to the wrong home, which was located on the same street as the target property (we have since retraced their route using the same GPS, and it again took us to the same wrong location). As we discovered later, the property to which they were directed actually belonged to another individual.When our representatives arrived, they noted that the grass was overgrown, the door was unlocked, and the utilities had been turned off. The home was also nearly empty, with two dressers being the only furniture inside the premises, and a neighbor indicated that the home had been vacant for some time. Therefore, not knowing that the GPS was incorrect, our employees had no reason to doubt that they were at the right location, and they proceeded to change the door locks, clean the property, and discard what they assumed to be trash and abandoned items. Unfortunately, we did not discover our error until the clean-up process was nearly complete.This situation was a mistake on the part of our bank and – as we have done previously – we sincerely apologize to the homeowner for the inconvenience and concern it may have caused.In addition, we communicated to the homeowner our desire to compensate her fairly and equitably for her inconvenience and loss. However, the written list of items that she provided to us – and the value she assigned to those items – is inconsistent with the list and descriptions of items removed that was prepared by the employees who did the work, and with the list and values of missing items provided by the homeowner herself as recorded in an earlier telephone conversation with one of our representatives.In a meeting with me in my office, I indicated to the homeowner that we wanted to compensate her but would have to look further into the differences in the lists. We heard nothing more from her or otherwise about this situation until being contacted by a local television station, which subsequently broadcast a story that, from our perspective, did not accurately reflect the facts or the good faith actions of the First National Bank to resolve the situation. Nearly all of the news stories that you may have seen – regardless of whether on television or the internet – appear to have been taken directly from the local television report. Other than CNN, no news media that has rebroadcast or reprinted this story has contacted us to get our side of the story or to verify the claims made on the local station.Nothing like this has ever happened to our bank before, and we have instituted additional internal controls to ensure that it will not happen again. Anthony S. Thorne President & CEOTony, you haven't asked me for my advice but you are making a big mistake here. Pay her the money. It's about to get a whole lot more expensive. You couldn't buy this much bad publicity if you tried and now you look really cheap. You probably are demanding that she shut up if she takes the measly settlement that you are undoubtably offering but she would be a fool to.
You overplayed your hand and she now has all the bullets. You have basically called the woman a no good liar. Doesn't look good for your bank. I notice that your troubled asset ratio is already borderline. Americans get pissed off at bankers that treat people this way. Right now there are undoubtably flotillas of attorneys beating their way to this woman's door at this very moment so that they can try to get a piece of you. Reap the whirlwind.