Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Evils of Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Cancels Credit Card of Responsible Citizen who Pays Bills on Time and Doesn’t Carry Debt

I’ve always loved Wells Fargo.

The glory of the red and yellow beacon of kiosk-light shining out in the dark, beckoning me to its wondrous ATM convenience.

Wells Fargo had been there for me for ten years providing reasonably priced business banking, and their delightful customer service phone center always helpful: until now. I just found out, while on the road as a musician, via my online banking, that they cancelled my business credit card. I have used this particular card since 2002 for business travel, business emergencies and overdraft protection of my business checking account. I always pay it on time, barring once over a year ago, when I did not see a two-dollar finance charge on a checking overdraft fee (a fee on a fee, yes they can do that!) and I missed that it was due. But they took care of it. I paid it, everything was cool.

So let me run down the score: My credit rating is over 800 (!), I have made a decent living as a musician and even currently while being a student, I pay my bills on time. And they cancel me. For not using the credit card enough.

When it seems all we hear is the bad news of the economy, about the troubles of people mired in debt they can’t pay, all while banks are taking large payouts from the government. (According to my search of the news, Wells Fargo has taken $25 Billion in TARP “investments” that they have not paid back.) And what do these banks do? CANCEL THE PEOPLE WHO ARE PAYING THEIR BILLS!?

I’ve made the phone calls to Wells Fargo, all very nice, well-spoken gentlemen who were not at all helpful. Jose, Marco, and Scott: You guys are great at phone service, delightful people. Just powerless employees protecting the real decision makers from any direct contact with customers. In fact: You cannot speak to a person with true power at Wells Fargo on the phone. You cannot email a person with true power at Wells Fargo. I asked, and they told me, "you have to write a letter." A letter?

I was able to find out that, according to the gentlemen on the Wells Fargo phone service, there are six people working the credit card cancellation lines at the center I called, each handling around thirty calls a day. Approximately 180 upset cancelled customers a day, and again according to my source, this line was set up one year ago. That is a lot of unhappy customers being cancelled because of “risk assessment” which seems to include, in my case, not using my card enough. So let’s presume that some of these people are delinquent with their accounts, maybe even most, but what about the rest of us swept up in this frenzy of Wells Fargo’s attempt to clean up their house, we all need credit as a backup for unseen emergencies. Why not just lower my card limit if you wanted to decrease exposure to debt? (Which is, I mean was, very generous, due to my high credit rating.)

The continued hypocrisy of the banking system, and the gross support of this hypocrisy by our elected officials is really getting old. Why am I upset? Because I did what I thought was responsible, what people in power tell us to do (limit debt, only use when necessary!) and my credit card was cancelled for it.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I’m going to go write a “letter” to Wells Fargo. If I can only find a pen. I’ll keep you posted.

And please, if you’ve experienced similar treatment by a bank, don’t let them get away with it. Keep on them, call them, email them, and even write letters.

Responsible banks should keep and nurture responsible customers.


Jeff Kaiser said...

Just my little personal credit card story, nothing really tragic. But this in addition to denying credit for people and small businesses in need, the horrible way they are going about foreclosures of people in trouble, all while enjoying a profitable quarter AND 25 billion in TARP investments. (I just saw on the WSJ that this quarter had record earnings. )

betty said...

Good rant! Everyone knows this whole banking scene is ridiculous. So don't even get me started on the banks quadrupling interests on credit cards just because they can! I wonder what would happen if we all stopped using plastic and paid cash or bartered! Anyway, we can't stop complaining or they'll just get worse. Write on ...