Shalom's Cottage Home Blog

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Rock Island, IL, United States
Hi, I'm Shalom. Artist, crafter, gardener, flea market enthusiast, bargain hunter, and lover of flavor. Welcome to my journey!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wells Fargo: the perfect example of how NOT to run your business

Ever heard of the phrase, "You're getting too big for your britches"? Well, that's what Wells Fargo has become. An over-inflated, self-important and self-serving excuse for a bank that has removed itself so far from the actual wants and needs of it's customers that it has failed to realize OTHER OPTIONS are popping up like weeds, all around them.

While, I speak only for myself and my personal experience, it certainly didn't take me long to find others who felt similarly about the banking giant as I do. In fact, I haven't yet heard or read anything POSITIVE about this bank. But I digress...

I've had my beefs with Wells Fargo, ever since I started banking with them, nearly 10 years ago, as my husband and I embarked on our new married life together. But this one finally takes the cake. Yesterday, I received an email (an EMAIL, not a formal letter or a phone call, but an EMAIL that could easily have been dismissed for spam), advising me to log into my account to view new changes to the terms of my free checking account. I'm just glad I didn't ignore it, thinking it was an updated privacy policy or something irrelevant to my daily life. What I discovered, conveniently hidden in tiny text on page 2 of the document, was that beginning September 12, 2011, my two free checking accounts were going to each be charged a $7 monthly fee unless I took advantage of 2 "convenient" options (or so the representative on the phone tried to sell it to me, when I called to demand an explanation):

Option 1: maintain a minimum DAILY balance of $1500. Um, sorry, but what is the POINT of having a checking account if you're not allowed to spend any of the money in it??? Balances like that belong in SAVINGS accounts, which I already have.

Option 2: Set up a monthly direct deposit of $500. Sorry, not going to happen. I only use these 2 checking accounts to keep money separate, as needed, from my main 'Complete Advantage' checking account, into which most of my money flows and goes.

When I called to ask why all of the sudden, after years and years, I was being charged for the use of these 2 additional accounts, I was given a sob story about how the government was limiting fees on what the bank could charge elsewhere and so they had no choice but to make up for it by charging fees on formerly free checking accounts. I countered that that was ridiculous and that I was sure I could find plenty of other banks willing to offer me free checking if Wells Fargo no longer wanted to. The lady on the phone practically laughed in my face and said that she was sure all the other banks out there were eliminating free checking to make up for the 'hardships' imposed by the government.

So, I put out a call for help on Facebook: 'Need a new bank that offers free checking' (summary). In less than an hour, I had 6 (WAIT! Make that 7) different suggestions from trusted friends. Not so difficult as you thought, Wells Fargo. Did you forget that your customers can read, write and know how to use the internet?

I also asked them, why I was NOT being charged for my main checking account. Their response was that I had a credit line, a savings account and a mortgage attached to it, which enabled them to waive the monthly fee. So, instead of realizing that I am a customer who does A LOT of business with them, and should be allowed to keep the 2 extra checking accounts for free, as a convenience, they have decided that it makes more business sense to risk losing it all over a mere $14 a month? I don't know what business school the person in charge of this sound financial decision went to, but I'm willing to bet he passed with Cs and Ds.

With SO many other options out there, I REFUSE to pay even $1 a month in extra fees because I DON'T HAVE TO! Wells Fargo has absolutely NO hold over me. There is NO incentive to stick with them for ANY of my financial transactions, when I can get so many better deals elsewhere.

When I called them back to tell them just how many other options I had come up with in less than an hour, the representative was speechless. What was I looking for?

-Free Checking (check)
-Online Banking (check)

Not so hard to find after all, Wells Fargo. I'll have you know that I am a business person too, and although I may operate on a significantly smaller scale than you do, I at least know how to KEEP my customers. It's really not hard:

-Don't charge ridiculous fees for things customers can get elsewhere for free.

-Don't forget you have to WORK for customer loyalty. People aren't stupid. Why should they PAY to stick with you and be treated as inferior idiots when other institutions are falling over themselves to take their business away from you?

I swear, every time I turn around, there is a new bank popping up on a street corner somewhere in my city. I see ads on TV all the time, offering FREE checking (imagine that). But, I guess when your head gets THAT big, Wells Fargo, it starts to affect your vision. And I, for one, have no more desire to do business with a financial institution that doesn't appreciate me and to whom, I appear merely as an annoying little ant way down below whom you will deign to continue to do business with for an extra fee. No thanks and good riddance.