In 2015 I wrote my book Hell’s Bank, an in depth look into the billions of dollars in mismanagement and fraud under the horrific leadership of its then CEO John G. Stumpf. I concluded that to survive Wells Fargo Bank needed to dump Stumpf and clean up its act. That book is available here and it is an excellent read because as it turned out a few months later in 2016 Wells Fargo Bank did indeed dump Stumpf. In his place they installed a man whose resume would suggest that he was just the right man at the right time, but is Wells Fargo Bank indeed better off under their new CEO Timothy J. Sloan?
Well Sloan’s resume is very strong and he did immediately pledge major and much needed reforms. Yet here we are in 2017 and on March 1st Reuters issued a report claiming more than 2.1 million Wells Fargo Bank customers have been hurt by the latest Wells Fargo bank scandal involving phony accounts established without the customer’s knowledge and solely to generate more fees for the bank. But as awful as the major scandals truly are I found something arguably even worse and that is new growing trend to provide no effective customer service on the retail level where most of us experience what a bank is all about.
Late last year my wife I visited our local Wells Fargo branch to inquire as when we might receive our lien free car title because we were of the opinion that the loan had finally been paid off. After several phone calls by the “banker” at the branch we were eventually told that there was still one final payment due. We did not think that was true and the “banker” promised to check into it and let us know what he could discover. Nothing happened.
Then on April 3rd 2017 we received a harsh collection letter demanding immediate payment of slightly more than what would have been our last car payment. Tired of the game I went back to my local branch the morning of April 4th with the sole intent to pay off the last payment in the amount claimed. I was beaten down and tired of the fight. Maybe they were right and maybe not but either way I just wanted it done and then move on.
The first problem I was told was that the loan was only in my wife’s name and so they could not deal with me. I then asked that if I laid the full amount on the banker’s desk would she take the money and apply it to the loan? That resulted in a visit to the manager. Next came a convoluted phone call by the banker to the Wells Fargo car loan department. That resulted in a firm demand that the ONLY means by which they would accept payment was by a Cashier’s Check sent to a specific post office box. What!?! It was a Wells Fargo loan, I was in a Wells Fargo Bank branch and tendered a Wells Fargo credit card but that was unacceptable.
Frustrated and tired I simply asked, “And how much is the fee for the Cashier’s check?” to which the banker responded that the fee would be waived. So we went over to a teller’s window and I tendered my Wells Fargo Bank credit card and I.D. Do recall I was first told that nothing could be done because my wife wasn’t there. Yet there I was about to pay for a Well’s Fargo Cashier’s check with my Well’s Fargo credit card and then it happened. A little message came on a small computer screen requiring me to either click on YES and accept the FEE, or NO and terminate the transaction. When I mentioned that we had all agreed there would be no fee the banker, the teller and the manager all agreed that was true but they also said that if I did NOT agree to pay the fee they said I didn’t have to pay then they could not proceed with the transaction. That was simple enough, the bank simply refused to allow me to pay the debt in the manner we had all agreed to use; a perfect example of a real life catch 22. Why?
They only thing I could think of was the sad reality is that Wells Fargo really doesn’t want to accept a final payment. They would much prefer to repossess the relatively low mileage car worth several times the amount of the final payment. Yep! Wells Fargo bank has hit upon yet one more way to keep on screwing it’s customers. Well I’d like to think I had some tiny part in getting the bank to finally dump Stumpf, now it seems that it is time to refocus on vanquishing the Sloan moan.
Top photo made from a Wikipedia photo