ING Direct

307 ratings (249 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating: Very Good
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A revised review... all around great rates, lousy mortgage service

Jan 22, 2004 (Updated Sep 7, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:GREAT rates! GREAT website!

Cons:LOUSY mortgage service

The Bottom Line: GREAT rates all around, LOUSY service on the mortgage side. Follow the bucks, but be diligent or they'll screw it up. 3 stars & a recommend for RATES only.


I discovered ING through a banner ad in my MS Money software last year when I was shopping for a re-fi on my mortgage. Since then I have opened a savings account with them, re-fi'd one mortgage, and then taken out a new mortgage when my family relocated. Here is what you need to know.

One of the reasons ING can offer great rates on mortgages and savings is because they seem to specialize in low-touch accounts. ING Direct offers:

* 3/1 and 5/1 variable rate mortgages (they discontinued their 10/1 and 7/1 programs due to lack of interest)
* Orange savings accounts
* CDs (one, two, three, four, and five year)
* Mutual funds (I think 6 or 7)
* HELOCs

You always have complete access to all your accounts over the web.

Here's what we love about ING:

* Savings and mortgage rates are *great!* My savings account is easily earning 4-5 times the national average. My mortgage rate is very low.
* Website is VERY easy to navigate. Also features a rotating security question with login, which is nice added security.
* You can choose to have statements mailed to you by mail monthly, or simply have them delivered online.
* You can set up automatic withdrawals from your 'linked' checking account.
* No points, no closing costs. EVER. All they charge are statutory (ie taxes) and third party (ie appraiser) fees.
* NO ESCROW REQUIRED on mortgages! ING Direct trusts you to pay your own taxes and insurance. So you can put that money to work for you each month in savings instead of letting a bank make money off interest from your escrow account.
* You can make your mortgage payment from your savings account instantly (or set it up on a recurring basis, like I have now). You can also make transfers of additional principal from your savings to your mortgage at any time, or set up automatic debits from a non-ING account.
* It was relatively easy to open the savings account. I don't remember exactly what was involved, but I did everything over the phone and then I think I mailed them a check for a dollar from my main checking account.
* Pre-qualifying for the mortgage (both times) was very easy. Just about 15-20 minutes on the phone.
* They are currently servicing their own mortgages (more about that later). No third party/communications issues to deal with. (Their original servicing agency was lousy, so this is a great improvement.)
* They will never SELL your mortgage.
* If you have 10% to put down, they will piggyback you a HELOC. Never any PMI.

Things that aren't great:
* Since they do low-volume stuff, no checking accounts:(. They also don't do fixed-rate mortgages:(
* It does take awhile to move money from your ING account to your 'linked' checking account. So I keep the bulk of my liquid savings with ING and then keep a slush fund in a money market account at my 'regular' bank.
* You do have to pay for it a bit in customer service. Never had a problem with the savings account, but when we relocated from one state to another and bought our new home, it was like dealing with the peanut gallery. I think I spent an hour on the phone with ING every other day trying to straighten something or other out, or explain to them the bank's role in the mortgage process. (Ie, hiring the title company is the *bank's* job.) They also screwed up the good faith estimate they gave me by simply not bothering to find out the transfer tax rate in the county where I bought the house. This isn't exactly rocket science. However, I realize that this was taking place at the same time when they were changing to doing all the servicing on their own mortgages. I am willing to concede benefit of the doubt due to ramping up their staff, but I think anyone who gets a mortgage with them should be sure to follow up on EVERYTHING. Once my mortgage was set up, everything has run like clockwork.
* There is a minimum amount of time a deposit must 'wait' before it is available for withdrawal. That doesn't freeze your whole account, but if you have $500 in there today and make a $10K deposit, don't even try to touch that $10K for at least a week.

****** UPDATE ******

OK, so here's why I'm revising.... a narrative on the lousy service on my mortgage....

ING offers a one-time rate rolldown on its ARM products. Once you have had the mortgage for 6 months, you can pay them $300 to roll down to 1/8 above their current rate. I took advantage of this to drop my rate by almost a point. Sounds great, right? That's what I thought, so I took them up on it.

For the next month after the rate change took effect, I think I did nothing but argue with ING reps over the phone. They re-amortized my loan incorrectly after the rate change went into effect. They dropped the payment, but did not allocate the payments properly between interest and principal. The result was they were charging me an additional 20% in interest.

I spoke with numerous reps, supervisors, and researchers who all couldn't even bother to run a simple amortization schedule to verify my complaint. The problem was painfully apparent to anyone with a basic understanding of math. Every single person I spoke with just told me I was wrong and treated me like an idiot. Heck, they even called me back to tell me I was wrong, after not doing any research. (I resorted to writing to their consumer ombudsman about the problem. I ultimately got a promise that they would train their reps better.)

After a week in which I logged over 8 HOURS of phone calls with ING, I finally got someone to listen to me - by literally yelling at him after calmly explaining the situation failed to get through. Suddenly he was willing to use an independent amortization calculator to verify whether my payments were being credited properly. Lo and behold, I got a very fast apology from this man for his lack of faith in my mathematical ability.

Over the course of the next week, I received multiple conflicting stories blaming everything from a data entry person screwing up the files, to computer systems that failed to integrate properly. I was repeatedly promised that the problem would be fixed the next day - that part went on for a week.

They ultimately fixed the problem. I never got a real explanation from them about what went wrong, and more importantly I never got a human apology for how they handled the error. Easily a dozen people touched my account and either disregarded my concerns or flat out lied to me. I got a voicemail apology from a sales rep for "the trouble", and a note from the ombudsman promising to train people better.

Moral of the story, epinions readers: ING offers fantastic mortgage rates, but you and you alone shoulder the responsibility for ING servicing your mortgage correctly. The mortgage service reps sure aren't doing that.


Recommend this product? Yes

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