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Big business reaches out to help customers impacted by Oso mudslide

Toyota Financial Services has 100 employees dedicated to calling their customers in Snohomish County who might be affected by the landslide in Oso. Vice President Al Smith says other creditors might not be placing calls, but they would probably be willing to work with customers as well.

From government leaders to local non-profits, there have been a lot of folks reaching out to help the people of Snohomish County following last month’s massive landslide.

Even major corporations are also now stepping up to help, to the surprise of their customers.

Tammi Fattal lives in Snohomish County and says she got a call at home on Wednesday from the company who holds her car loan, Toyota Financial Services.

“The first thing I’m thinking is, did I send in my payment? And, they just said they were calling because they realized I was in the affected area of the landslide and is there anything they can do for me” says Tammi. “I was kind of blown away. I thought, are they calling everybody in Snohomish County?”

Not everyone, but Toyota Financial Vice President Al Smith says they are calling about 9,400 of their customers who live in the Oso zip code.

“We have roughly a hundred people in a loyalty team, that we call them, and we’ve asked them to reach out to each customer with an outbound phone call to try to determine if there’s any assistance that’s needed,” Smith says. “There’s not guarantee that we’ll reach all 9,400, but we’ll reach as many as we can.”

Whether a customer has a lease or a car loan, Smith says they’re ready to work with anyone who has been affected by the disaster, even those whose homes are not directly affected.

“The policy is somewhat loosely defined because we try to look each customer’s situation” says Smith.

They might give customers a 30 or 60 day extension on their car loan, forgive late fees, or make sure long term credit reports aren’t affected by current circumstances.

While most creditors probably don’t go to the extent of calling each and every one of their customers in this kind of situation, Smith says if you initiate the call there’s a good chance other companies will be willing to work with you as well.

Tammi says the call she got was a very a nice surprise.

“I just thought it was great they were doing that and making the effort” says Tammi.

Two people are still missing in the “pile” in Oso. The hundreds of people searching the debris field after last month’s landslide has now dwindled to a few dozen.

41 bodies have been recovered, and searchers have already covered most of the area where people were believed to be when the slide hit. But, it could take years for the survivors and the community to recover.

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