Wells Fargo: the EVILEST bank out there

I don't like to rant. In fact, I go out of my way to be understanding of all possible circumstances, and to let go of grievances whenever possible. Wells Fargo bank made this impossible. Here's why.

I went on a business trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia. I taught a crash course on Bayesian statistics for 2 weeks at the University of Ljubljana. It was fun, I seem to have convinced the PhD students there that probabilistic statistics is the way to go in astronomy. I felt particularly accomplished and fulfilled, and particularly forgiving about any complications or setbacks during this trip. Such a slight setback was a miniscule reimbursement, but hey, I was in my home country, got to see my family and friends, so I had no issues with being paid for just the airfare and subsistence, 570€ total. I was one happy camper all around.

Except for this one colossal hurdle: the effing Wells Fargo bank.

The University had my account with Wells Fargo on file, so they had the information on where to send the reimbursement to. In the mean time, however, I was told by Wells Fargo that I'll be hit with a monthly service fee if I keep two accounts with them. This was no negligible fee either, and I shouldn't forget to mention that the fee was expressedly in contrast to what I have been told in person by two of their employees, one at Villanova University and the other at my local branch in East Norriton. Ignoring that, I shrugged and closed one of my accounts. As you might have guessed, this was the account that was on file with the University's accounting services.

A month after my visit to Slovenia, I got a notification that the wire went out. Looking at my account I saw it never got in, so I figured something went wrong. Little did I know how HORRIBLY wrong it went...

Let's try and follow a logical person's perspective: a wire is sent to a closed account in a person's name. What should happen? The receiving bank should say "Sorry, no account with that name associated on this end!". What did Wells Fargo do? "Thanks, we'll deposit this money to a commercial account in somebody else's name for you, since clearly this is what you wanted us to do!".

So let me get this right: even though my name is on the wire, the money goes off to a commercial account in someone else's name just because Wells Fargo recycled the account number and neglected to verify the name on the wire?

Fine. It happens. After all, it's my fault for not alerting the University of my account change. Let's just deal with that.

So I call Wells Fargo and explain the situation. They were kind and told me that the wire indeed went to this account (that's how I found out that it's a commercial account) but that (obviously) they cannot share any details about the account with me. I asked how come that the money was deposited if the names mismatch, and I was told that whoever was dealing with the wire must have been sloppy and didn't check if the names match, and that the error was definitely on Wells Fargo's side.

Ok, so let's fix it. Ya right...

"No go", they said. Even though they messed up, it is the originating bank that needs to send a "trace" to see where the money had gone.

So far so good -- still feeling guilty and stupid for not updating the account information, I call the originating bank. Guess what? There can't be a trace issued if the wire transfer was successful. In the case of a problem, the receiving bank should inform the originating bank that something went awry with the wire.

So I call Wells Fargo again. I must have spoken to 10 different people, and got nothing but pointing fingers and laying off blame. My favorite was the last person I talked to; whoever knows me knows that I will not lose my temper and I will not take my frustration out on CSRs -- ultimately it's not their personal fault, even though the level of incompetence of Wells Fargo CSRs is downright remarkable. After explaining my issue, I got the polite but all-around useless "we don't blame you, but there's nothing we can do". When I tried to remind them that it is Wells Fargo's fault, what did the guy do? He hung up on me. Lovely. I prefer to think that the call just dropped. Makes me sleep better at night.

Ultimately I reached the wire department and they again admitted that Wells Fargo screwed up, but that there's nothing that can be done and that I need to understand that this is not just my own inconvenience but the inconvenience to the poor bank as well. WTF?!? It's YOUR effing error, why don't you just rectify it? How about picking up the phone and calling the owner of the commercial account, asking about the wire and any objections for that to be sorted out, etc etc -- we're all people, can't we just talk it out and figure out a way to deal with it?

No. Impossible.

The only thing to do is for the University to issue a recall with the originating bank, collect the money back (against a nominal fee of 16€ for the originating bank and 100€ for the poor Wells Fargo bank) and then send the wire again, with another nominal fee of $25 by Wells Fargo.

Two words, Wells Fargo: F*CK YOU!

Completely disheartened by the treatment I got from this evil bank, I committed to this wire recall, but rerouted the wire to my other bank, Ally. My experience with Ally has been nothing but great, and guess how much they charge me for an incoming wire: $0. I just hope that Wells Fargo crashes and burns. I do not wish anything bad to anyone, especially not to the unsuspecting employees of the bank, but the business strategy of Wells Fargo leaves me as their client at loss for words to describe this complete lack of sense. My wish is to share this story and hope that it dissuades you from ever dealing with Wells Fargo, or if you are unfortunate enough to deal with them, to find better alternatives because they are out there. No one should be sentenced to deal with these money-grabbing scoundrels.

If you think that the wire recall went smoothly, you're gravely mistaken. The originating bank had to send four (4!) requests for an update over the course of 2 months before the funds got returned to them. Why, you wonder? Because Wells Fargo was "investigating". Sheesh.

That's it. Rant over. Over and out.