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I was intrigued by a new iPhone app, Confession: A Roman Catholic App. It’s for Catholics who want to go through the confession process on their iPhones instead of in front of their priest in a confessional. This raises the possibility of confessing while you are in the act of sinning.

However, a Vatican spokesman issued this statement:

“I must stress to avoid all ambiguity, under no circumstance is it possible to ‘confess by iPhone’.”

[Related: Why the Home Loan Mod Program is Failing]

What does this have to do with mortgages? I believe that borrowers are best served if they have personal attention from a knowledgeable person. I know I have saved people tens of millions of dollars over my career compared with what they would have gotten had they dealt with agents at an 800 number. This has been reinforced recently by questions I get from various people across the country who tell me about their bad experiences they received from what I will call “anonymous lenders.”

The fact is that when you call an 800 number and get put through, the only thing you know for sure about their competence is that they know how to answer the phone. That is perfectly OK for many small commercial transactions like ordering a shirt from a website or checking your credit card balance. But it is a stupid way to do something complicated, like getting a mortgage or investing your 401(k).

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When I started my business career just after the last ice age, we did business with people in person. You went to your bank where you knew your banker’s name and the tellers were always the same. You had a stockbroker and an insurance agent and a lawyer. As the world got more complicated, some of these people even specialized so that you needed two or three, like a life insurance agent and a home insurance agent and maybe a long-term care insurance agent. It’s the same for the other specialties.

Too big to fail, too big to care »

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