First of all, I'd like to ask how many of you got mortgages with Option One while it was owned by H&R Block. I'm one of those very unlucky borrowers; I refinanced my house in December 2006 and defaulted on the mortgage less than a year later. Although H&R Block cut Option One loose in May '08, it has never, ever once taken responsibility for its role in the subprime mortgage meltdown that brought the entire U.S. financial system down like a house of cards. I still hold HR Block responsible for my own situation and for others' as well.
There is a strange irony in my situation and that is, my younger brother's architectural firm (he's one of the founding principals) designed H&R Block's new world headquarters in downtown Kansas City, not far from where I live. On H&R Block's website, they say "they care" about making communities better places to live through corporate giving. Blah, blah, blah.
I thought I'd appeal to that sense of caring especially since my brother's firm designed their corporate headquarters, and wrote a letter asking the CEO, Russ Smyth, for help with my situation. I told him that I have a children's book coming out this spring (hayseed.caballopress.com) and asked if they would be willing to pre-order xxxx number of copies of my book and then donate them to public schools and libraries everywhere in the country. I explained that it would be a win-win all around; not only would my home be saved from foreclosure, but school children all over the country would benefit, and the company would have done a very good deed and gotten a pretty nice tax break too.
I sent the email to Mr. Smyth last week. Wanna know what his reaction was?? Without ever addressing my situation directly, he chose to forward my email to Sand Canyon Corporation's (formerly Option One) senior vice president and general counsel, William S. Smith. What cowardice!!! I wrote back to this Mr. Smith asking him if H&R Block's CEO had put him up to this. No answer. A classic case of passing the buck, if you ask me. It made me so mad, I decided to fire off another email to Russ Smyth raking him over the coals. This is what I had to say:
Thanks a lot for being so magnanimous in passing the buck on to Sand Canyon Corporation, the entity formerly known as Option One Mortgage Corporation and ducking any and all responsibility for H&R Block's role in the subprime mortgage meltdown. You've proven by your actions that H&R Block does NOT care about the pain, anguish and misery it inflicted on thousands, if not millions, of Option One borrowers and their families who simply wanted their own version of the American Dream. By allowing Option One to behave like an unruly, rebellious and out-of-control delinquent child, your company turned the American Dream into the American Nightmare for those people and for me as well. All I wanted to do was refinance the home I inherited from my mother into a much more affordable mortgage and make the hopes and dreams we had for it a reality in her memory. No thanks to your company's refusal to rein in its wild child and make things right for me (and for thousands of others), I most likely will be thrown out into the street in a few months along with my pets with no place to go.
H&R Block is just like a lot of parents in real life who refuse to accept responsibility for their children's actions, even if those actions result in grave injury or death to innocent people. How about all those parents who not only turn a blind eye to their kids' serving hard liquor, for example, to their friends and classmates at parties, but also willingly procure that alcohol for them, in an effort to come across as "cool". Well let me tell you, Mister Smyth, it's so NOT cool when one of those kids gets behind the wheel falling-down drunk and kills or maims innocent drivers out there. Ditto for H&R Block, the irresponsible parent, and Option One, the out-of-control child. It's so NOT cool when sheriff's deputies come out and rip entire families from their homes and toss them out along with their belongings onto the street with no place to go.
YOUR company is totally and completely responsible for these people's lives being callously torn apart. You think you've washed your hands of the whole sordid mess when H&R Block sold Option One off to Wilbur Ross & Co.?? Think again. Just because you cut your wild child loose doesn't mean the end of responsibility or liability for its actions, not by a long shot. What H&R Block did in the past will always be there to haunt you. You will be reminded every single day that you walk into the building that my brother's company, 360 Architecture, designed how you coldly turned your back on me, his sister, as well as all those families you threw out into the streets without shame or remorse. You are no better than the greedy, blood****ing leeches on Wall Street that are shamelessly continuing to rape, pillage and plunder Main Street even as they're being grilled on Capitol Hill this week. Really, what makes you think that you're not responsible for all of us Option One borrowers suffering immeasurable pain and anguish, many sleepless nights and days of feeling trapped with no escape in sight anywhere? Not to mention the numerous broken marriages, lost jobs and traumatized children and senior citizens... are you not responsible for any of that as well??
The hell you aren't. I lost my job last year because of YOU and Option One, and I am losing my home because of you and Option One. You can deny and duck and lie through your teeth all you want and pass the buck on to what's left of Option One, but it won't do any good because your company's past misdeeds will come back to bite you. It's just like Mark McGwire's past steroid abuse coming back to haunt him, or Tiger Woods' marital infidelities surfacing all because of a late-night car crash... or David Letterman's dalliances with his staffers. The truth ALWAYS comes out sooner or later, Mr. Smyth. It's karma, and there is absolutely no way you can escape it, no matter how hard you try to cover it up.
I'll have you know I created a 19-minute documentary short film, "Predator", an expose on H&R Block and Option One's misdeeds, with stories by Option One customers gleaned from Ripoffreport.com, as well as my own personal story. It's out there on the Internet for all to see at http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-15905 ; . Quite a few prominent people have seen the film, the most notable one being Governor Charlie Crist of Florida, one of the hardest-hit states in the subprime mortgage meltdown. It speaks nothing but the whole truth about what H&R Block and your former subsidiary did. If you can't own up to the truth, Mr. Smyth, then you have absolutely no business being CEO of H&R Block. The good companies are quick to own up to mistakes, misdeeds and what have you, and to make things right in a timely fashion. Case in point: Apple. Apple has a sterling reputation for exemplary customer service, great products and so forth. Apple isn't perfect, but the times they've put out products that were defective or whatever, they've always acted quickly to solve the problem because they care about its customers' satisfaction and good will. Because of Apple's high standards, I will never buy anything but Apple products, and I have the greatest respect and affection for Steve Jobs. He has earned that respect and affection because he CARES, and he's worked extremely hard to maintain it over the years. Because of all of that, Apple has the staunchest and most loyal customer base of any company that I'm aware of.
H&R Block on the other hand...... forget it. There was a time when I would go to an H&R Block outlet to have my taxes done every year, but that time is gone forever because of what has happened, and is happening, with my mortgage with Option One. NEVER again. You do not have my goodwill or respect. Your passing my email on to Sand Canyon Corporation without directly addressing my situation speaks volumes about your cowardice. The man upstairs doesn't look kindly upon fools and cowards such as you. Why should he, when you've caused so much irreparable harm to innocent people on Main Street?
If you want a fight, Mister Smyth, bring it on. Just remember, it's not wise to disturb a hornet's nest. I'm not afraid in the least because there are hundreds of other victims who are itching for a chance to sting back for all the pain, anguish, sleepless nights and broken dreams you've inflicted on us. There's strength in numbers. We WILL win.
Sarah P. Schrock
If you folks want to vent your grievances with Russ Smyth, his email address is email@example.com, and tell them that Sally Schrock sent you. Go nail that bastard, and post any responses you might get from him here in this thread. Also tell him you're boycotting them this tax prep season and taking your business elsewhere!
I sent that email to all the major local news stations, the Wall Street Journal, Moe and Evan Bedard, my Congressman's office and the Kansas City Star's business editor.
Frankly, I don't care if he sends his legal eagles after me. It's high time to expose HR Block for what it really is, an irresponsible parent!