Q: We are currently refinancing our home, and have already signed the good-faith agreement with the broker.

We were told at the time we should sign soon to lock in the interest rate.

Now they are telling us our interest rate will be slightly higher and they never locked in the rate when we thought they did. Can they do this?

A: I’m a little confused by your letter. Did you lock in the rate or not? If you gave the mortgage company the go ahead to lock in the rate and the mortgage company never locked it in for you, then you may have a valid complaint against the mortgage company.

If, however, you never gave them the authorization to officially lock in the rate on a specific day, then you get whatever the rate is on the day the loan was locked.

Still, it sounds to me like you’re getting the “bait and switch.” Your lender promised you a particular rate if you signed on a particular day. You signed, but didn’t get the rate. That’s baiting you with the promise of a better rate, but switching the rate on your when the lender perceives it’s too late for you to shop around to find another deal.

Another possibility is that the lender has been gambling with your interest rate (and you lost). Instead of locking in the rate, the lender is betting that rates will go down further. So, the lender waits. If the rate drops, the lender pockets more profit from the end lender who will ultimately buy your loan because it will be an “above market” rate. But if the interest rate goes up on your loan, the lender would be stuck paying out of pocket to make good on the rate.

Unless the lender can figure out a way to make you accept a higher rate.

Interest rates have gone down in the past few weeks, and at press time the official 30-year interest rate was below 6 percent.

You should also consider filing a complaint with the Attorney General’s office and the state office that regulates mortgage lenders in your state. If you copy the loan officer as well as the president of the company on your letter to these regulatory bodies, you may find that he "suddenly" has changed his tune.

But I would be wary about doing business with a shoddy lender that says one thing and delivers another. If I were you, I’d ask for the return of any cash that you paid upfront (hopefully it wasn’t much), and start shopping around for another lender. Check out current rates that are being offered by other lenders in your area at www.bankrate.com.