Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why I Hate Wells Fargo

Or, as we call it around here, Wells Farto. Once when I set up an electronic transfer from another bank account into a Wells Fargo account, the other bank got the name wrong. After furnishing much jocularity around the house, we adopted the name as only appropriate.

Once, about 8 years ago, we did our business and personal banking at Wells Farto. It was the bank my husband had when we married, and for a long time, it was just fine.

But then I started noticing something. WF never missed an opportunity to impose another fee, for anything imaginable, even for so-called "free" checking.   Then, I started seeing fees on my free checking that were just simply wrong. I called the first month, and got the fee reversed. No problem. The people at WF were always very helpful and courteous, I never had a problem with them. It was the system that drove me nuts.

Then, the second month, the fee reappeared. I called and had it reversed, and then spoke to someone the next time I was in the bank. They fiddled with their computer for a bit, said "Hmmmm" and told me they would look into it. So the third month, when the fee appeared again, I called customer service.

Turned out that "their computer system just wouldn't accept the command" not to charge us that fee. All I had to do each month was call and they would reverse the charge. I sat there stunned. I was supposed to call twelve times a year for them to correct their mistake?

Yep. They were embarrassed and apologetic, but that was the best resolution they came up with.

So I went through all the hassle and inconvenience of changing both business & personal accounts to a small, local bank named Western Financial. They had great service, free checking that was actually free (except for fees where you screwed up, like overdrafts) and a very close branch. We actually asked, in a joking kind of way, "now you're not going to get bought up by any other bank, are you?" when we opened the accounts. They assured us that no, they were well funded and they wouldn't be bought out.

All went along well for more than 3 years. I was very satisfied at Western Financial.

Then, they were bought out. By Wachovia. But really, it was about the most painless transfer ever. I didn't even have to change checks. Wachovia service remained great, and the primary change was that there were many more branches I could use. My free checking terms remained unchanged. I gave it a chance and it worked out well.

You can see where this is going, don't you? Yep. Last year, Wachovia itself was bought out by...wait for it...Wells Farto.

When I found out they were in negotiation, I emailed them and said, "don't do it. You'll be sorry. I'll leave if you do!"  But oddly, they didn't listen. They went ahead and made the deal.

So I made arrangements before the finalized conversion of the branches to WF, to move my business checking to Chase and my personal checking to USAA. And last Saturday, I went into the nearest WF branch and closed my accounts there.

I was carrying with me the final statements from both accounts. They were the first statements issued by WF instead of Wachovia's system. On each of them was a long paragraph delineating all the new fees that WF was imposing on my formerly free checking account. This particular leopard hasn't changed it's spots in any particular. They're still the Bank of the Fee. None of the staff that came over from Wachovia seemed happy to be there, though. Some of them seemed desolate. Happy to have a job, sad that it wasn't with their old bank.

So adios, Wells Farto.  Don't let the door hit you on the way out.  I hope all the Wachovia clients leave you in droves. If they have any self-respect, or clue about fee-charging bandits like you, they will.

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