Wells Fargo: More From the Seamy Underbelly of Banking


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In a couple of past posts, I’ve detailed Wells Fargo’s finely honed skill at keeping customers from their own money. We left WF banking after twenty or so years as Private Banking customers, partly because WF persisted in vioating Reg CC, a Federal Reserve regulation that governs how long banks can take to release funds deposited after clearing them. But now WF has crossed yet another threshold of sleaziness.

My last writing on this unpleasant topic (October 08)described the bank’s clever way of deposting your insurance money from a major property damage claim, and ever so slowly and parsimoniously parceling out less than contractors’ bills, long after they’re due. But now WF has borrowed a technique from the insurance industry by refusing to pay anything, claiming they don’t have all our paperwork.

My wife, who’s a private practice psychologist, gets this treatment routinely from the likes of Blue Cross Blue Shield as well as for-profit carriers. They just keep asking her for the same forms over and over again, hoping she’ll either go away or become a Blue Cross provider and accept fifty-cents on the dollar. Eventually, she gets paid, but these are relatively small amounts compared to two new roofs, window element replacement and even gutter damage (we get nasty high winds, including tornadoes, out here in Minnesota).

So here we sit without a dollar released, sixty days ago we sent down a signed contract and lien waiver, but without our signatures (we don’t usually sign our own copies of contracts). No one called to tell us they needed these signatures, but they held up payment nonetheless. So when we called to find out where our check was, someone cheerfully informed us that we hadn’t signed documents as WF requires. Really? Stupid us. We should have ESP. So we signed and refaxed, this time to a purported supervisor who would expedite processing – who we’ve now discovered is not a supervisor and who processed nothing.

After a couple more weeks, we received a form from WF saying they still needed our signatures. Oh, we get it now. Same old WF. So I called and got another supposed supervisor, who told me to refax them to her directly. So I sent them again. Oh, and part of this conversation was hearing we’d only be receiving two-thirds of the settlement instead of 80%, despite their inspector inspecting and declaring the work 80% done (we can’t finish until Spring without turning the house into an igloo). Turns out WF “only pays in thirds.” When I asked how to get this fixed, supposed supervisor #2 promised to have someone from another department call me. No one did. Nor has she returned my calls. Surprised?

Really wanting to pay the contractors, I gritted my teeth and called yet again today. Guess what? You don’t have to. So person #78 went looking through their fax records, and you won’t believe this, but she told me their fax machines were unrelaible. She did find one fax the right length (8 pages) from me, but the pages were supposedly all blank.

[By the bye, everything I’ve written so far I’ve done while on hold, while this last woman searched files and records. She offered to call me back. Guess what I said?]

So I’ve now faxed everything yet one more time. The woman agreed to call me when she received the fax. Guess what? She actually called. Maybe because I told her I’d name her and everyone else involved from WF in the blog I was writing while she was looking (which is against Customer Think protocol, but it may have sparked a little fear of god).

Oh, and before we hung up, I related my to her my background consulting in financial services, including direct knowledge of how wily WF plays the customer float. She proclaimed that no one there would do anything like this intentionally, to which I replied back with the, “walks like a duck, talks like a duck…” line. And then said, “Quack.” She diapprovingly said, “This isn’t funny.”

Guess what, sister, I know.

Stay tuned, there may be more. And knowing WF, there will be.


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