sarah_sensei: Midna: LoZ Twilight Princess (Default)
Well, we finally closed our Wells Fargo account today. My husband (who hates to do the talking because he's foreign and is worried about discrimination) left me in charge of the conversation.

This probably wasn't the smartest idea, considering my tendency to rant and be blunt about things -- fine qualities that I got from both my mother and father which, when used in combination, make me a pretty irrational, irate customer (though I don't usually bring that side of me out).

I honestly thought I was behaving for the most part -- as he would gently nudge me under the table with his knee, reminding me that whatever I just said was a little mean. He nudged me about 3 times while the lady asked me why we were closing the account.

I warned her after the first question, telling her that she "really didn't want to ask me that" and that it had to do with "certain policies that they were enacting in the next 2 months." She prodded me more so I began to tell her that it was most specifically the checking account changes that targeted poor people who didn't have steady income and the fees to access my own money via debit card. (This was my first knee-nudge).

She puts in our information and comes back with, "Oh what's your address?" and we tell her (she HAD our licenses, so it should have been obvious). But nope, according to her, it turns out that for SOME REASON they thought we still lived in Alabama... Furthermore, the address they seemed to think we lived at is one that is more than 3 years old and wasn't even our last AL address (it was the address that was used to open the account). So she says, "You don't have to pay those fees on your debit card because they think you live in AL and they are only imposing that new fee in GA right now."


I tried SO HARD not to come back with something nasty... I honestly was very nice because I didn't tell her how stupid that logic was. First of all, we did a MORTGAGE inquiry with them THIS SPRING to see how much they would have pre-approved us for. They should have KNOWN at the very least from THAT, that there was a conflict in our address, but it was never brought up. Secondly, my husband is obsessive about finance, I seriously DOUBT that he never changed our address. So instead I told her, "It would only be a matter of time before everyone had to pay these fees."

"Oh but you should have come in earlier, there are still ways to avoid those fees. We could have worked something out! You had options." There is NO WAY a bank is going to pass up $36 worth of fees a year without secretly taking it out of my ass some other way. Like say... you have to keep some crazy amount of money in checking or savings at all times, or possibly sign up for some annual fee laden, super-special-platinum-rewards card that never actually gives you rewards. Please, how stupid do I look? They aren't going to "cut me a deal" unless there is something in it for them.

So, in response to that I say, "I know I had options, that's why I'm closing this account!" (I got a long knee nudge for that one).

"Oh but it will only be a matter of time before all banks charge these fees. It's the Federal Government, they just imposed all those new rules." Yeah I remember when the Fed said, "You can't charge retailers more than X-number of cents for a transaction through your bank system, and you can't impose whatever kinds of fees you want by forcing them to use your routing system. We know what it costs, so stop pretending it costs more." So, now we see this is their secret way to get around that new rule and make some quick cash until the Federal Reserve has to write another new rule that says, "No, you can't do that either..." Way to take advantage of bureaucratic red tape, Wells Fargo! You get the "Scrooge McDuck Award" for being Epic Misers.

I responded with, "That's not the answer I got when I e-mailed Wells Fargo. They told me in the letter that they are doing it 'because everyone else is' and just because everyone else is doing it, it doesn't make it RIGHT!" (I got the third nudge for that one).

See, that IS what they told me in the e-mail. None of this whining about the big bad Federal Government taking their profits for transactions that should cost pennies to make! The e-mail I got from Wells Fargo said some corporate BS like, "Every once in a while we have to analyze the fees and practices of our competitors and make adjustments to our policies in order to stay competitive." That translates to, "We're doing it because Chase thought it was a good way to make some fast cash. We wanted to see how many people will just bend over and take it, and how many people will be smart enough to flee." I don't see anything in there about the Federal Government forcing them to allow retailers to choose who to route money through. (As if overdraft charges and ATM fees when people are on vacation won't make up for it somewhere else).

When the lady went to go get our cash, my husband told me I shouldn't be so hard on her because she just works there. I am well aware of that. I am also aware that she has a script that she is supposed to follow and the company tells her what to say. But I honestly wasn't that mean. I didn't say anything that was "untrue," and I didn't yell at her. I was just a little curt and didn't beat around the bush.

So, we are done with them. As we were leaving she again reminded me that we "had options for our checking account" and "it will only be a matter of time before everyone imposes the fees." Yeah, ok whatever. I belong to a Federal Credit Union now, and they are generally not lumped into the same category as banks. So, I think it will be a while before they get crazy with the fees. Furthermore, the reason why you have a one-time membership fee with Credit Unions is because they "belong" to everyone who is a member you essentially own a piece of their stock.

The Federal Reserve's policy targeted only big banks (those who are worth $10 billion or more) who were taking advantage of retailers and were forcing retailers to route the transaction exclusively through their network thus allowing them to charge whatever they wanted for said transaction -- which was up to 44 cents per transaction before the rules went into effect. Heck the Fed even back paddled on their initial decision and upped the cap banks can impose from 12 cents to 21 cents! No one is hurting here! It doesn't cost you 21-44 cents to move a few bytes around in your server to change the number of dollars in my account, I'm willing to bet it costs less than 3 cents. (And I don't want to hear some BS about fraud protection, because last I checked that was about 1 cent per transaction-- so 4 cents does not explain what the other 17 cents are for!) This nonsense is about pure profit, you got called on it, and now you are looking for more ways to get that profit back. Anyone who is foolish enough to think that the new regulations are some kind of hardship on large banks (especially the revised ones where the Fed gave in, in order to prevent what is currently happening from happening), deserves to pay $36 a year to use their card.
sarah_sensei: Midna: LoZ Twilight Princess (Default)
Let me start off by saying that the ONLY reason I even have an account with Wells Fargo is because of a series of life-changing events:

1) I got married and joined my husband's account.
2) Said account was with Wachovia before they were bought by Wells Fargo.

I was taught a harsh lesson at a young age about the evils of large banks. My parents used to have their money with Mellon Bank. Mellon decided somewhere along the way that they no longer cared about the little guy, and wanted to focus on their larger, corporate accounts. So, they began instituting policies that were a hardship on working middle-class families. The policy that did my parents in was that the bank would not recognize their deposited paychecks until a full week after they cleared. As a result, bills were coming, the money WAS there but the bank was artificially creating a situation where they were overdrawn nearly every week. My parents looked for a solution and found one in Tri-Point Federal Credit Union through my father's previous employer.

I remember my parents fighting about the money that WAS there but inaccessible with Mellon. They told me that banks didn't care about regular people. Tri-Point was good to them and had no such policies. When I got my first job, they became my very first financial institution.

When I graduated college and moved overseas, I needed something that I would have better access to. At the time, Pentagon Federal Credit Union had a branch on the base I worked at. I still was wary of banks, and I immediately joined them instead. I still have an account with them (for emergency funds only) and they have mostly been good to me over the years. They have only instituted one policy that I wasn't fond of, but it was nothing like what Wells Fargo has done in the last month.

In the last 30 days they have announced two policies that I feel are a direct attack on the middle class. First, they decided to change a policy in our "Essential Checking" account. The policy from their website reads as follows:

"Effective September 12, 2011, a $7 monthly service fee will apply, which can be waived with the following:

- Maintain a $1,500 minimum daily balance, or
- The total amount of qualifying direct deposits each statement cycle into this account must be $500 or more"

The first option is ridiculous. Keeping large sums of money in checking at all times becomes more of a liability when it comes to loss of your card or theft. On any given day we are likely to have about $500-$700 in our checking account, but rarely do we have over $1,000 unless it is payday or we are paying rent. Who has $1,500 to leave in their checking account at all times? Any normal person would put that in savings so they can receive that paltry .05% Wells Fargo calls interest.

The second option actually makes us exempt from this fee. Basically, as long as our direct deposit checks from our employers are greater than $500 a month, the fee is waived. But what I find insulting about this policy is how it negatively affects those who do not have regular income, are working part-time, working minimum wage, or are currently out of work. Any working person could lose their job at any given moment due to layoffs, illness, injury or other misfortunes. This could be you, me, or anyone, and just because it does not affect me directly, it does not mean that I am "ok" with it.

The straw that broke the proverbial camel's back came today when I heard on the news that Wells Fargo is planning on "testing" a new fee for the use of your debit or ATM card for purchases. Essentially, they are going to charge me $3 a month, so I can access my OWN MONEY.


So, let's do a little 3rd grade math: $3 x 12 months = $36 a year.

Wells Fargo just created an annual fee for my ATM/Debit card.

Do I seriously look stupid? I know for a FACT that I don't have to take this kind of abuse from them. If this is an attempt to force out all of Wachovia's former, working class customers so that they can focus on big money and corporate accounts, it sure is an efficient way of doing it! After hearing that I was living in one of the states that will be part of the test group in October, I set straight to work on voicing my displeasure with them. I promptly wrote them an e-mail through my account, and I composed a letter that I sent to their corporate headquarters announcing my intent to take my money elsewhere if this policy is to go into effect.

Although I made it sound like I might reconsider in the letter, I already know my mind is made up. I want out. I want out NOW before I give them any more opportunities to screw me. They ruined this business relationship by instituting too many ridiculous polices in a short period of time. There is no loyalty or trust here.

It took me less than an hour to find TWO viable alternatives in the area. There are at least TWO credit unions that I qualify for within the city. One has a worldwide presence and offers .30% dividends on savings.

That's not an error in the placement of the decimal:
Wells Fargo: .05% interest, Federal Credit Union equivalent: .30% dividends

Gee, I wonder which number is bigger?

Wells Fargo not only will lose our checking, savings and credit card business, but I will also not use them as a mortgage broker when I go to buy a home. I'm fairly certain that I will get better rates from a Federal Credit Union anyhow.

If there are any Wells Fargo customers out there reading this, I strongly suggest that you tell them where to stick it and seek a different financial institution with which to do your business. Just a couple years ago, we Americans bailed their sorry asses out. It seems that they have not learned from this and are continuing their poor business practices. I say they are undeserving of the second chance we gave them and I have no reason to continue doing business with them.


sarah_sensei: Midna: LoZ Twilight Princess (Default)

January 2015

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