I Went to a Wells Fargo Branch, this is What Happened Next

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They have learned nothing.

I walked into my Wells Fargo branch to put my data backup into my safe deposit box, as I’ve been doing for a decade. This routine business turned into a wake-up call about safe deposit boxes and churned up insights into how Wells Fargo conducts to this day its cross-selling efforts: the algo makes them do it!

To clarify, I’m a happy customer. Wells Fargo handles day-to-day banking for me and my vast WOLF STREET media-mogul-empire corporation. The people are nice, and I have not yet noticed any fraudulent accounts in my name.

It doesn’t bother me that every time I call one of the national numbers with a problem or question, I have to swat away their offers of “pre-approved” credit cards, lines of credit, or other high-margin products. Having run a car dealership earlier in my life, I appreciate the art of aggressive cross-selling. However, we never-ever did it over the phone! We waited till we saw the whites of their eyes.

Yet at the counter for safe deposit boxes, I was in for a surprise. The young man – a 30-year-old employee would have looked suspiciously over-age at that branch – checked the computer for my box number. There was a problem. He asked for my driver’s license. He rummaged through a file cabinet, found the signature cards. He conferred with another kid. He came back, embarrassed. Turns out, the fact that I’ve been renting the box for a decade wasn’t in their computer system. So no-go.

I thought: That’s how easy it is to block you from getting into your safe deposit box.

He called over a “personal banker” – a young woman – to “fix” the problem. We trotted off to her desk. She said the bank had “updated” its computer system. My box rental hadn’t made it into the new version. So she got busy on her computer. Took a while. She had to set it up. There were fees and discounts to discuss. There were things I had to read, agree to, and sign. She was just about finished, when she suddenly did a mini double-take of her screen. Everything came to a halt.

“I don’t mean to sell you anything,” she said after a long pause, with an embarrassed smile, “but….”

She could see the whites of my eyes! She turned her computer screen. It was filled with a Wells Fargo credit card promo. You’ve been pre-approved for this great offer, she said. “Your credit must be really good. Not many people get this offer.”

An algorithm had decided it was time to cross-sell; and she had to cross-sell to finish her job. That credit card promo was the next step in the procedure.



The algo that forces employees at the branch and at call centers to cross-sell was designed by humans, after strategic decisions had been made and funded, under the direction of top management at headquarters, such as current CEO Timothy Sloan and former CEO John Stumpf.

This cross-selling push is embedded in the software, is algorithm-driven, and kicks in at the most effective moment.

Even the recent disclosures, settlements, the keel-hauling in California and other states, and further investigations have not motivated Wells Fargo to strip these algos out of its computer system. They’re still there, working hard for your own good.

After she got rid of that promo page, and elegantly handled another topic she wanted to cover, I was finally allowed to get into my safe deposit box.

The next day, I received an email from Wells Fargo and Gallup. It asked for “feedback” on my “recent Wells Fargo visit” and offered me a chance to win $1,000.

Now I was curious. Though I never fill out surveys, I decided to check this out.

Up front, it asked if I spoke “to a banker about opening a NEW account or product,” or about one of my “CURRENT Wells Fargo accounts or products.” Was Wells Fargo trying to figure out if the “banker” did her job and pitched a new account?

After it asked me to rate my “overall satisfaction” with the visit, it listed a series of questions about the employee, whether they did things right the first time, etc. etc. It never once asked about the bank, how it screwed up with the safe deposit box.

And this: “The employee asked questions to identify options for meeting your financial needs.” Should I check “strongly agree” to help the employee out? She deserved it. She was nice. Clearly, the survey is checking on her to see if she did her job and tried to sell me something I didn’t need or want.

Remember, I’d gone to the branch to get into my safe deposit box, and not for retirement planning.

“Did you visit the branch to resolve a problem or error?” Nope. A “problem or error” occurred after I got there.

“Did you work with an employee to establish or confirm your financial priorities?” And “The employee provided products or services that aligned with your current financial needs.”

Again and again, each time couched in slightly different terms, the survey checked on the employee to see if she had been sufficiently aggressive in cross-selling.

The fact that surveys check to see if employees did their job in cross-selling tells me how big the pressure on them still is, even after all the revelations.

These survey results are used to manage employees. They probably get them rubbed in their faces during sales meetings and in performance evaluations. They know they’re being evaluated, not only by the algo-driven computer system at the bank, but also via customer responses, to make sure they push new accounts, credit cards, credit lines, brokerage accounts, and other products.

This is inbred into the bank. It’s part of its management doctrine and computer system. It’s partnering with Gallup to accomplish this. A contract with Gallup isn’t set up at the lower levels. And a few slaps on the wrist aren’t going to change a whole lot. It’s not just Wells Fargo. It’s the industry. It puts banks into the same category as car dealers. So steel yourself when you deal with them (just like you would walking into a dealership).

No bank is “so powerful as to be untouchable,” explained California State Treasurer John Chiang. Read…  Wells Fargo Getting Clocked by California: What, No Perp-Walk?



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  140 comments for “I Went to a Wells Fargo Branch, this is What Happened Next

  1. Ptb
    October 23, 2016 at 12:52 am

    I went into Wells today to access my safety deposit box. What a coincidence! They let me in without checking my ID!! I called them on this and they said my signature and having the key were enough. They’d never done this before….I emptied it out immediately. It was close to closing time and i think they were not focused on their job. My level of distrust with them is now quite high.

    • Handy Dandy
      October 23, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      They do that on purpose so you’ll contact the bank to complain. The contact is another opportunity to cross sell. If the bank did everything right, you’d never make contact with them.

  2. Justme
    October 23, 2016 at 1:16 am

    I guess I am not the only one that has noticed that all the questions on customer satisfaction surveys measure other things than customer satisfaction. And that there is no way to enter what the real problem was, if there was one.

    • SD
      October 23, 2016 at 5:46 am

      The surveys are used to measure the employee’s performance. If you don’t give them the highest scores across the board–even if the questions do not directly relate to the employee’s performance, it impacts negatively on them, limits their career opportunities as well as wage growth within the organization. This type of stuff has been going on for over a decade in various industries.

      • October 23, 2016 at 10:42 am

        Correct. In the car business, we used surveys starting in the late 1980s. They’re important. You DO want to know if customers are happy or unhappy.

        And we also used them in sales meetings and performance reviews. That’s why I can imagine what these branch employees have to go through.

        • Ivy
          October 23, 2016 at 12:51 pm

          Some car salesmen, such as at BMW dealers, would tell you that anything less than the top score was going to reflect negatively on them personally. There was a type of desperation signaling that they would try to camouflage as buyer virtue signaling to get buy-in to their situation. Perhaps that was my anti-neoliberal bias showing.

          As I read through the article, I visualized decision trees and fault trees, and how the Wells process design could have been changed at various points to extract some observations about the system.

        • EVENT HORIZON
          October 24, 2016 at 3:34 pm

          That is why they are called “Floor Whores”.

          I’m taking my youngest son, age 13, with me since I’m buying a new car. I am going to show him the nasty game. This is going to be fun for me (but as you Mr. Wolf know from my comments) it will be HELL for the Salesperson.

          I NEVER buy from the first 2 dealers, regardless of the deal. I usually spend 3 or 4 weeks in buying a car so the Dealership HATES my guts. Then you know you have a good “deal”.

          But, always remember, if the Dealership sells you the car, you still paid too much.

        • robert
          October 25, 2016 at 1:20 pm

          I’m not looking forward to the day when a emergency room visit or hospital stay is the perfect opportunity to cross-sell. My personal mortgage with Wells Fargo led to this: I had been paying off a 15 year loan on a investment property, always on time and paying extra principle, when I allowed Wells Fargo to pay the real estate taxes for the last 6 months. Each statement that was electronically sent had a bold amount due on a certain date. Fine, I thought so I paid that plus extra to make up for the taxes paid by W.F.. Soon after I checked my credit score and found a non-payment, behind ninety days noted from W.F.. Called the customer service to find out all my payments were credited to the escrow balance owed, nothing went to pay the loan bslance. Policy and the fine print in mortgage, I was told. Three months of phone calls going up the food chain to the executive loan dept. went no where, even after the loan and escrow were paid off. No one could explain to me why the Bold type with amount due on the statement each month was not enough to prevent the foreclosure process. There was a sentence in smaller print that said “You can call this # to contact our loan department”. When my wife went to the branch office at times, no one said there was actions being taken that were adverse to us. Another 2 months after no response, we recieved a letter stating that our credit was restored because of unfortunate circumstances. Watch your statements and read the fine print is my advise.

        • October 25, 2016 at 2:46 pm

          Robert, I too have a horror story about my mortgage (80% paid down) – back in the 1990s.

          It was sold from one bank to another. It was set up on automatic payment. “You don’t have to do anything,” the letter said; the automatic payments would be redirected automatically. I was traveling overseas, so this was hard to follow up at the time. Suddenly I realized the mortgage payments weren’t being taken out of my bank account (took two months), and so I tried to figure out what was going on, from Africa! One day, the person who checked on my place once a month called my lawyer friend in panic: there had been a foreclosure notice taped to the door.

          It took a long time and us threatening them with a malicious foreclosure lawsuit to get this untangled, and to keep my credit history clean. None of the banks involved exist anymore — got bought out by I can’t remember who.

        • Paul simpson
          November 2, 2016 at 7:40 pm

          I had a similar nightmare experience in the 1990s after my mortgage was sold… To Wells Fargo!

    • Ta Da!
      October 23, 2016 at 8:44 am

      What gets me a lot about these surveys is that I will call about a problem to some company but quite often the nature of the problem is such that I don’t immediately know if the issue actually got fixed (have to wait for something in the mail, the next billing cycle, etc. to see if it really got fixed). Of course a few minutes later I get a follow up survey call which is completely useless in evaluating my satisfaction since I can’t confirm the CSR, however nice he or she may have been, actually resolved my problem. This is the Achilles heel of these instant surveys.

    • Nik
      October 23, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      Aloha…the Questions on Feedback Surveys are almost Always Slanted toward a specific Agenda or Conformations of a Company’s ‘Correctness’….rarely is there any Space/Opportunity to Give Personal FEEDBACK….lolol

    • Mike G
      October 23, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      These surveys are tightly worded for you to pass judgement on the designated scapegoat employee and how well they are adhering to the corporation’s policies that dictate their every move. They don’t want feedback that would reflect badly on management decisions, it’s all about clubs to browbeat the powerless employees. Which is why the “service” you get from large corporations is so often garbage.

      • robert
        October 25, 2016 at 1:36 pm

        Recently we had Dish Network installed in our house. The service tech was new and had to call in his boss to complete the install. The boss gave us the upgrade, better cables sales pitch and left. The new installer asked us to be kind in our follow-up survey. He explained that he was making $65.00 for our service call as a independent contractor and had traveled some 50 miles to get here. He had just finished his 4 week training (without pay) and was told that if his satisfaction survey was below a 5 on a 1to5 scale or there was a call-back his contract with Dish Network would be terminated shortly. He gave us his personal phone number to avoid us calling Dish Network if there was a problem later. It is a dog eats dog world out there.

  3. d
    October 23, 2016 at 1:35 am

    Wolf.

    I have written here before.

    A “Safe Deposit Box” controlled by a bank, is no more yours, than the money in your saving’s account, you have lent to the Bank. (although in the US there is some FDIC protection)

    This incident may prompt you to think on, is it time to find a good local safe depository my man.

    And yes the pressure to cross sell on bank front line staff, is unacceptable.

    The bank’s doing this, will keep doing this until they are replaced. It is now in their Organizational Culture.

    Organizational Culture, is extremely difficult to change.

    Think policemen and corruption, Organizational Culture.

    The only way to eliminate it, is to replace the organization. A very expensive and time consuming thing to do, with a Police force.

    Wells Fargo, much easier, get the fed’s to wind the SOB up, moving all accounts to whoever, just as they would in an FDIC operation.

    Was it not the FDIC that put you in wells in the first place??.

    • October 23, 2016 at 10:52 am

      I need convenient off-site data backup storage that is NOT in the cloud. That’s the only thing I use the box for.

      I’d never put cash into it. That would be silly. I’d rather have it in an account. Either way, the bank controls the cash, but in an account, it’s more convenient.

      If I need cash outside the banking system, I’d rather stuff my mattress with it… :-)

      • robt
        October 23, 2016 at 11:30 am

        I don’t know about the States, but in Canada it’s illegal to put cash in your safety deposit box, other than collector’s coins or bills.

        • leafme
          October 24, 2016 at 6:55 pm

          robt, what’s the penalty for putting cash in your box? How do they know it’s in there (they look over your shoulder?!?).

      • Nicholas Scholten
        October 23, 2016 at 4:13 pm

        Why do enable the banking system by utilizing their services? The system would have to reset if w all pulled or money (that we have voluntarily loaned) out of the system. Wells Fargo of all places….

        • October 23, 2016 at 4:57 pm

          It’s unrealistic to think that I and my little corporation could do without convenient ATMs and other standard banking services, such as payment processing and having accounts with enough money that allow me and my company to operate, plus wire transfer services to foreign countries, payroll processing for my company, a place to store my data backups off site, etc. all in one place.

          Banking is like electricity. You can live without it. But….

        • economicminor
          October 23, 2016 at 7:43 pm

          thumb drives come in 256gb. You can’t need more than that. And most decent safes are fire proof.. And there are smaller banks in SF like the Bank of SF.. and some credit unions.. As for ATM cards and vendor processing, even my small local Umpqua Bank can provide all that. I have used my Umpqua Bank card all in many places around the world with no issues.. I am going to open an account at Banner Bank based in Walla Walla Washington though because they have no ATM charges even international.. I like that.. I quit my Wells Fargo account after 2009.

      • Quade
        October 23, 2016 at 6:31 pm

        I keep encrypted backups in my cars and in one of my out buildings as well as in a safe deposit box. Any single point of failure will eventually fail. Every now and then I cycle the backups in and out of the different locations. I never swap them all out in one go in case I get a bad backup.

        I’ve used the cloud too. Encrypt twice with different tools and then upload.

        Unless you have an inordinate amount of data to back up. Older SSD’s make good backup devices too. Everything I do is digital and I simply can’t afford to lose it. Old laptop drives work well for it too. I never let a hard disk go without crushing it so, the old drives tend to collect.

      • d
        October 23, 2016 at 8:13 pm

        “I need convenient off-site data backup storage that is NOT in the cloud. That’s the only thing I use the box for.”

        In which case a box facility, not controlled by a bank would not have to be that high security.

        A lead lined box with some silicone jell bags, inside and old freezer. In any good storage complex above the flood plain would be adequate.

        only needs a small unit when the electricity fails, they put security guards on the key pad entry’s to those places at least ours do.

        I haven’t been to the US for years It is not on my list of things to do again. They pointed gun’s at me for nothing. And the whole customs and immigration staff and experience at LAX are simply very unpleasant. Even if you only go into transit area.

        Private security box facility’s used to be popular inn the US, are they no longer aprofitable enterprise.??

  4. October 23, 2016 at 1:45 am

    I bank with Wells by default. I’m a First Union turned Wachovia customer and here we are. I’ve been mostly happy. But about 8 months ago I logged into my Citibank Visa to find a balance due of $9000. Since I pay my card in full every month and don’t charge more than I can pay, I can promise $9000 is panic-inducing.

    I noticed several charges that said “WFB Opening Balance – Checking” or “WFB Opening Balance – Savings” all to the tune of $500 each. It was an act of God to get Citibank to believe this wasn’t me. After several months of fighting to get the charges wiped, they disappeared and I never thought of it again. But once this account-gate unfolded, I wondered if the two were somehow related.

    Anyway, this is like Wall Street and Real Estate – no one ever learns. It’s actually ridiculous.

    • walter map
      October 23, 2016 at 9:09 am

      “Anyway, this is like Wall Street and Real Estate – no one ever learns.”

      Do tell. You continue to allow yourself to be at the mercy of banksters, despite their criminal histories, and despite your own experience.

  5. October 23, 2016 at 2:36 am

    My wife uses Chase and Wells Fargo and is in constant turmoil.. I use a credit union and sleep like a baby.. Every Friday someone puts out a spread of cookies and cakes and every Friday my diet goes to heck but never my account..

  6. Lee
    October 23, 2016 at 2:39 am

    Smile at the customer, say hi, and it doesn’t matter if the wheels fall off the car after a service…………………

    Same with a bank!

  7. wkevinw
    October 23, 2016 at 3:17 am

    I was a WF customer decades ago until I had a customer service problem. That was the last of it.

    I had a friend who was a teller decades ago too. Nice person. I’m sure she is making lots of money somewhere else these days.

    They also ended up with one of my mortgages.

    I have never been impressed with their customer service for us regular folks.

  8. Flying Monkey
    October 23, 2016 at 3:19 am

    Great observation. Thanks taking the effort to post it.

  9. October 23, 2016 at 4:12 am

    I am a loyal and reasonably happy BOA customer – – they only screwed with me once during my divorce, but that was long ago and due to a badly interpreted and official policy. Persistence paid off and I came out OK post divorce. The issue can never happen again.

    Here is my standard and automatic mechanism, that I use to shut down cross selling :

    I ALWAYS LIE !

    Can we refinance your car loan? I own my car outright !

    Can we refinance your mortgage ? I have bad credit post divorce OR I have no mortgage OR I am unemployed and do not qualify.

    Asking me to sign up for a new Credit Card – – answers above apply also. Truth is I had 9 or 10 Credit Cards post divorce, and am down to one with no balance ever.

    At Home Depot, if they want to sell me remodeling ? Then I state that I am a renter.

    If they want to sell me solar panels, then I say the house is up for sale.

    Etc.

    My ex objected to lying in ALL circumstances. That was a problem in our marriage. In the cases above, since sales reps have lying as a necessary tool in their sales-tool-kit, lying is de rigueur for their sales pitch targets. That would be my moral defense to my baptist-bible-banger of a wife.

    I hope my small idea here is useful for others to use. I have found that my lies work almost all of the time, except for the one about being unemployed – – they call the manager over to tell me that being unemployed is not a problem for a car loan re-write or whatever. Really ! Who would lend money to a person with no income ?

    Be creative, on the spot lying to intrusive strangers is a skill that I recommend for all people to cultivate.

    SnowieGeorgie

    • Bob
      October 23, 2016 at 8:37 am

      “…on the spot lying to intrusive strangers is a skill that I recommend for all people to cultivate.”

      Especially for those considering running for President of the United States, amply demonstrated by our current major party candidates. We, the electorate, are the “intrusive strangers”.

    • Copernicus
      October 23, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Absolutely right.
      Speak English to English.
      Italian to Italians.
      German to Germans.
      Chinese to Chinese
      And lying to salesmen.

    • kitten lopez
      October 23, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      “My ex objected to lying in ALL circumstances. That was a problem in our marriage….Be creative, on the spot lying to intrusive strangers is a skill that I recommend for all people to cultivate.”

      (????!!!!!)

    • Nik
      October 23, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Aloha Friend…Telling Lies over any extended period..Lessens/weakens your ‘internal-Integrity’….? How about a simple yet Firm “No Thank you” aloha

      • JerryBear
        October 24, 2016 at 10:53 pm

        I find it hard to lie and usually refuse to say anything rather than lie. There are three exceptions though. Lying to a criminal type who is trying to victimize me. A bureaucrat who is exceeding his authority with ill intentions. Protecting an innocent person from injustice. People who have to live in the real world should beware of ivory tower ethics. I think Chaucer disapprovingly spoke of this sort of thing as “having a spiced conscience”.

    • Michael Fiorillo
      October 23, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      I have no moral compunctions about lying to a corporation or its agents, but isn’t it more effective to pointedly interrupt them as they begin their pitch and in an abrupt tone tone say, “Excuse me, I’m here to conduct a transaction/take care of a matter and do not want to be solicited.”

      It’s what I do, and it usually throws them off.

      If they persist, tell them that unless they stop you’ll pull your assets and take them someplace where your wishes are respected.

      Perhaps it’s quaintly optimistic to think, but if enough people did it, maybe the word would percolate up to management, and it would temper this hustle.

      • David G L A
        October 23, 2016 at 3:49 pm

        Bravo

      • October 24, 2016 at 8:41 pm

        Yes . . . . . BUT

        That technique does not work most of the time – – or at least that has been my experience. I spoke of lying to “intrusive strangers”. Emphasis “intrusive” . Emphasis “strangers” .

        Intrusive strangers, ESPECIALLY intrusive salesperson strangers, very often refuse to take NO for an answer.

        THEN WHAT ?

        Than a conversation ensues, that’s what. SO NOW, WE HAVE A SITUATION where an intrusive stranger has intruded my space and my peace of mind, and by forcing an unnecessary conversation, and is also now stealing my precious time .

        Unacceptable.

        At Home Depot when I tell the budding sales representative wandering the plumbing aisle ( trying to sell me a remodeling project, as an example ) with this, “We rent an apartment.” the conversation stops on a thin dime, no conversational volley occurs, my peace is not disturbed, and my time is not wasted beyond that time spent on that four word memorized answer.

        I feel bad for the “sales rep”, I really do. They have a job to do. BUT I AIN’T BUYIN’ . And my number one job to do – – as a short-lived mortal – – is to protect my peace of mind, and spend the very few years I have remaining, wisely. No minutes to waste on intrusive strangers.

        No unnecessary conversational volleys when I’d rather be reflecting on the project I am buying for . . . . right ?

        SnowieGeorgie

        • Graham
          October 25, 2016 at 6:20 am

          The ‘I’m just renting’ line is the best way to get rid of double glazing salesmen.

          Ok, it’s a lie but it’s like a magic spell :D

      • October 24, 2016 at 8:51 pm

        Well, Mr. Fiorillo,

        Your post and the example therein is polite, kind and compassionate. Very humane, and direct and probably as effective as you say it is.

        But it’s a conversation I do not want to have. That’s me, and you may be different, no doubt.

        But my solution is direct, fast and 99% successful. Your’s entails at least 20 words to my four, and the small but very real possibility that a follow-up response may be required depending on the sales reps accepting what you said.

        My way is easier, less confrontational, and more successful, IMO.

        My way is a lie, and I break the 9th commandment every time ! But since I am an atheist ( which breaks the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th, respectively ) I really could not care less about commandment number nine which may have only been added as an afterthought . . . .

        SnowieGeorgie

        • JerryBear
          October 24, 2016 at 11:12 pm

          I am a Buddhist and I follow the 5 Precepts of Buddhism which when broadly interpreted are more comprehensive than the 10 Commandments. Number 4 is “Do not Say What Is Not True” and I respect this. However, the commonplace little social lies we encounter all the time do not involve anything of real substance and they can spare people’s feelings and avoid quarrels. I mean, how many of you guys out there would say “yes” if your wife or lady friend asked you if she was getting fat? How many ladies would say “no” if your man asked if he was satisfactory in bed?
          Our belief in the 5 precepts does not mean that we imagine some deity gazing balefully downward looking for violators, instead we believe that the 5 Precepts are general guidelines for living that if persistently violated would lead to wrecking one’s life and permanent incurable unhappiness. Considering that I have seen people utterly destroy themselves through habitual pathological lying, I have to respect this. Karma basically just means “reaction”.

    • EVENT HORIZON
      October 24, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      To be successful (as I am) in a world of lies, one needs to really know how to lie.

      Lying is the Key to Success.

      • JerryBear
        October 24, 2016 at 11:16 pm

        Yeah, but if you are not careful it will corrupt your character. It can lead eventually to the point that you can no longer tell the difference between truth and falsehood. I kind of feel that Trump has reached this point.

        • d
          October 25, 2016 at 1:09 am

          Trump

          Psychologist who are real, will tell you, a successful liar, convinces him/her self that their statements are the truth.

          Hence they can tell the most horrendous lies with a perfectly straight face.

          Their problems start then as they can not understand why the rest of the world does not believe them.

          When you meet a bad personality like that (Trump Etal) it is time to move away, as they are bad for you, and never will get the message and go elsewhere.

          Their Karma will normally, duly punish them, in the end.

          If there is a reincarnation wheel, trump will probably return, as a female slug. or such/..

  10. Dan Romig
    October 23, 2016 at 6:12 am

    Jon Tevlin of the Minneapolis StarTribune had a great article on John Stumpf published last Saturday, 15 October.

    http://www.startribune.com/wells-fargo-ceo-a-kid-from-minnesota-had-a-pattern-of-feigning-ignorance/397131581/

    But if you’re a ‘farm kid from Minnesota’ you do not bank at Wells Fargo. Bremer Bank is by far the best! As a long time customer of Bremer, I get a couple of credit card offers in the mail a year and that’s it.

    • Dan Romig
      October 24, 2016 at 11:41 am

      On the other side of the Red River there’s the Bank of North Dakota. For the first three quarters of this year, they reported a net income of more than $109 million which is 5.4% above projections. The state-owned bank has posted record profits for 12 straight years. Not bad, eh?

  11. michael
    October 23, 2016 at 6:48 am

    These days everyone is trying to cross sell. For durable goods it is warranties. That is because today’s products are generally inferior to past years which says much about cost pressures.

    One needs to just learn to say no thanks. I bank at Wells Fargo, have had no problem with false accounts or charges.

    • nick kelly
      October 23, 2016 at 11:38 am

      There is also a much better profit margin in the warranty than in the item itself.

      • Realist
        October 23, 2016 at 2:52 pm

        I have always figured that if the warranty was such a great deal for me they would not push it so much. They are obviously the ones who profit which would explain the hard sell to us.

      • EVENT HORIZON
        October 24, 2016 at 3:48 pm

        You are so right about that. Any time I buy an electronic product, the poor cashier has to up-sell me on some worthless warranty.

        Ever try to USE one of these warranties? Good God!…. Pure hell!…….. You have to have the original receipt, original packaging/boxes, all original accessories, etc. and then pay for the shipping TO the designated warranty center……..no thank you.

        When the over-worked, under-paid, cashier asks me if I want the warranty, I just say:

        “No Thank You. When it breaks I’ll toss it into a land fill”.

  12. anonymous
    October 23, 2016 at 6:52 am

    me and my wife decided to open a joint savings account in Wells Fargo some few weeks ago.

    joint savings, right?

    by the end of the information gathering, we ended having a checking account and a savings account. questioned why or if we really need to have the checking, the clerk hesitated and said we don’t really need to. so there.

  13. Paul simpson
    October 23, 2016 at 7:56 am

    You said of the survey, “It never once asked about the bank, how it screwed up with the safe deposit box.”
    What makes you think that was a screw up? Are you sure the “deposit box information loss” episode was not a result if the new algorithm designed to get safe deposit box owners into a lengthy interaction during which bank products could be pressed on them?

    • October 23, 2016 at 9:52 am

      That thought occurred to me too. But I have no evidence to prove it, so I didn’t want to mention it. Also there were signs – the confusion – that this was really a screw-up. But our suspicions could be right.

      • Petunia
        October 23, 2016 at 10:43 am

        I’m pretty sure the screw up was a way to make you sign a new agreement regarding your safe deposit box and bank accounts. You should try to compare the two agreements, old and new, if you can. I’ll bet there are some nice surprises in there.

        As far as them being up to the same old tricks, why should they stop? The consumer protection board is funded by the federal reserve and is there to protect the banks, not the consumers. The congress created the board that way on purpose.

        Vote them all out while you still can.

        • kitten lopez
          October 23, 2016 at 12:59 pm

          it’s so funny that after your post on people never really and truly owning land or their houses, i quietly thought, “well… then are safety deposit boxes still relatively secure from casual governmental seizure?” and then i wake up to this post of Wolf’s and laugh because THIS SITE IS ALL ABOUT THERE NOT BEING ANY SANTA CLAUS ANYMORE ANYWHERE. not even well-tucked away in a safety deposit box.

        • d
          October 23, 2016 at 8:27 pm

          “and then i wake up to this post of Wolf’s and laugh because THIS SITE IS ALL ABOUT THERE NOT BEING ANY SANTA CLAUS ANYMORE ANYWHERE. .”

          This site is mostly about reality have you only just discovered this one “not even well-tucked away in a safety deposit box”..
          Her is another especially in the US if, its yours, and in the hand’s or control of a bank ,you dont own it anymore.

        • Meme Imfurst
          October 23, 2016 at 1:07 pm

          Well Petunia, ain’t gona happen…vote them out or change banks either. Why? Because people are lazy.

          To much trouble to open a new account in a credit union or in a bank that has a better reputation, so if you are still in a bank that has demonstrated CRIMINAL ACTIVITY, you shall get what you deserve and then some. Go on you all ….stay in Wells, get screwed….But stopped bellyaching about!

          Sickening, America fades into blatant corruption with the cooperation and approval of it’s indifferent lazy citizens.

          Warren smiles!

        • d
          October 23, 2016 at 8:01 pm

          “I’m pretty sure the screw up was a way to make you sign a new agreement regarding your safe deposit box and bank accounts. You should try to compare the two agreements, old and new, if you can. I’ll bet there are some nice surprises in there.”

          I hope he already did that.

          $100.00 says you are correct.

          Banks dont have issues like they had with Wolf, unless they need/want to to.

          We both worked in them long enough to know that.

        • EVENT HORIZON
          October 24, 2016 at 3:50 pm

          The Federal Reserve Corporation is privately owned by the stock holding, member banks.

          It exist for the owners.

          Not you. Not America. Do some research.

      • Nonya
        October 24, 2016 at 2:27 am

        Wells Fargo went to a ‘new computer system’ years ago when I had a mortgage there. I work overseas with extremely limited internet connectivity. Long story short, my automatic mortgage payments stopped flowing (I was only checking every 6 months or so), and my home was 15 days away from being foreclosed on. My daughter’s name was on that account, I had another account with twice the money needed to pay off the mortgage, and my daughter even worked FOR Wells Fargo! They told me they couldn’t bring it up to my daughter (privacy issues, you understand) and it didn’t matter about having plenty of money in the other account. The home was being rented out and so I/my family never got any notices from WF until 15 days away from foreclosure being final. Stupid on my part, but way, WAY bad on WF. Would love to switch to another bank, but so few can accommodate ONLY online banking from across an ocean…

        • economicminor
          October 24, 2016 at 9:43 am

          I have done Internet banking with my small bank from Norway. I think most banks use a third party vendor for their on line banking and most are now capable of international transactions. You should check next time you come back to the states.

      • Graham
        October 25, 2016 at 6:23 am

        On the banking floor it could have been a real screw-up. The minions will behave _far_ more genuinely if they are ignorant.

        At some level at Fargo HQ however it could have been a deliberate choice. It also highlights all the rarely used boxes too – including some that may never be claimed – so it’s a win-win at the corporate level.

    • economicminor
      October 23, 2016 at 10:42 am

      or worst, to confiscate boxes that had not had activity. Which didn’t use to be a problem because as long as it was attached to an account they could get paid but once the *NEW* system is installed and everything is de-linked… and after how long before they just confiscate?

      I don’t trust the big banks. I do have a business CC with BOA and they sent me a notice during the summer that I was not in compliance and wanted me to prove who I was and that I was actually in business.. I had had the card for over 10 years and had been in the same business at the same location since 1990. It would have been easy for them to verify that I was in business. They could go to the Sec of State and see on line my assumed business registration. I pay them from a bank account in my business name.. Well, I sent them what they wanted. In a month I got a panic call from them that they needed what I had sent immediately. So I faxed them all the stuff as I had kept copies because I never trust the big institutions.. Then the next month one of my automatic pays from that card called me and said it wouldn’t work.. So I called them.. to find out that I was still out of compliance. They claimed they never received my info.. Even though I had a fax conformation.

      Every time I talk to them it takes an hour or two.. They put me on hold, transfer me to someone who can help, put me on hold.. I was angry and frustrated to say the least. New guy, said he could see I was a long time customer with no credit or non payment issues so he released my card for 10 days while I got this straightened out.. ME! Straightened out!?? So I faxed the info to him again.. to find out it didn’t even go to where he was but a service center in another state. I told him that this was it. I didn’t want to hear from them again about this issue and if they put another hold on my card I would NOT even attempt to resolve their issue and just use another card. That was two months ago and so far the card still works.. But why after 10 years was I in such jeopardy? What a dysfunctional system they have. I am trying to retire from the business or I would have already got a new card from my local bank..

      • kitten lopez
        October 23, 2016 at 1:05 pm

        yup. been there, too. the stress is unbelievable to be put on a panic defensive for stupid technical glitches that they trust over you any day.

  14. Uncle Frank
    October 23, 2016 at 7:59 am

    No thank you. I don’t conduct any business with the largest banks, certainly not with Wells Fargo. Small local banks and credit unions have treated me well for decades and have not opened accounts without my knowledge or permission.

  15. RD Blakeslee
    October 23, 2016 at 8:03 am

    Wolf – Pardon my advocacy of my counter-culture lifestyle, but you removed a post of mine following your article asking for feedback re your emails to us, including possible inclusion of ads. I suggested a voluntary contribution system for us to pay our way, instead.

    Regardless of the arguments on the merits, it’s hard to see how this wasn’t germane to your request.

    I leave it to you to infer the connection between you distaste for the cross-selling you encountered at Wells Fargo and my distaste for the ads you might put in your emails.

    Re bank security boxes: I’ve never used them and never would.

    Simplistic, maybe (but I like to keep things simple, when I can):
    I’m reminded of Clyde Barrow’s response when he was asked why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is”.

    • October 23, 2016 at 9:50 am

      Ha, you have not yet figured out this highfalutin comment system… :-)

      Your comments (2) are still there, including my response to the one you mention (“WOW!!!! Awesome!!!” and the link to the donation page). But there were so many comments on that article that the last batch of comments ended up on the second comments page. Each page is limited to 100 primary comments. So to find your comments, go to the article…

      http://wolfstreet.com/2016/10/08/email-sign-up/

      … go all the way down to the end of the comments, then click on “Newer Comments.” It will take you to the second comments page. Note the URL of that page! You will find a whole bunch of comments there, including some of mine, and the two of yours.

      Thank you again for commenting and for suggesting that you would be willing to donate to WS. Truly awesome.

      • RD Blakeslee
        October 23, 2016 at 10:41 am

        Sorry, wolf!

        Have to admit that my counter-culture lifestyle seriously handicaps my embrace of electro-technico-infostructure.

        But that’s not to excuse the false assertion – sorry, again …

        • October 23, 2016 at 11:12 am

          No problem. No reason to apologize. The comment system we’re using isn’t the most sophisticated and intuitive. You’re NOT the only one who asked about lost comments when they get pushed to the second page. Which tells me that there is a problem in the system: the link is really small – it should be a HUGE button.

        • kitten lopez
          October 23, 2016 at 1:14 pm

          i never knew that “page 2’s” are even POSSIBLE, either. i stopped paying attention to learning how this stuff online technical stuff works about 6 years ago when i committed a living suicide.

          a few times i even tried to even sign up for the notifications of new responses here, but it didn’t work so i said “fuck it.” i’m that way now with any account that makes me even re-do passwords now. i have only so much time online before i get supremely itchy and have to go.

          so now i just re-read lots of comments here when i can anyhow and get into the growth of the conversation and forget where i’ve commented.

          so if anyone asks me anything and i seem to blow ’em off–nah. i’m not. i’m just stuck back in 2010. (in real life i’m back in the 1980s and walk away from anyone who looks at their phone over me. i love getting older and not giving even less of a damn about being liked!)

        • October 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm

          RD, THANK YOU!!!!

          Your donation has arrived!

        • Edward E
          October 23, 2016 at 7:47 pm

          I’m ready to make a sizeable donation if you’ll come and help me with building this pole barn, spreading gravel and brush cutting. You can still go swimming in the Buffalo River it’s that warm…

      • Mike Earussi
        October 23, 2016 at 12:31 pm

        Another thing you could do to raise money is what a lot of other sites do. I’m an amateur photographer and many sites run by individuals make a little money if you buy photographic products through their site. Maybe you could do the same. Make a deal with online magazines like the Wall Street Journal, The Economist or NY Times to provide you a little compensation if people subscribe through your site.

        Just a thought.

  16. No Rush
    October 23, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Banking is based on trust. Credit is simply man’s faith in his fellow man. Once the trust is broken, that relationship will go South as liars never change.

    • walter map
      October 23, 2016 at 8:21 am

      “Banking is based on trust.”

      Misplaced trust is what allows WF, Chase, and Goldman Squid to exist. On the customer side it’s based on ignorance and inertia.

      Handle the banksters for me and I’ll deal with the armies of hell myself.

    • Mike Earussi
      October 23, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      That sounds good in theory, but in this society try to exist without using the banking system in one form or another.

    • EVENT HORIZON
      October 24, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      There was a time when TRUST was based on GOLD.

  17. Gee
    October 23, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Unfortunately, I’m going to have to say that you have learned nothing if after the financial crisis, you still bank with WFC. If you didnt leave the big 4 after that, you are sadly part of the problem.

  18. Unitron
    October 23, 2016 at 8:29 am

    I quit doing customer surveys long ago, because they were becoming so common, even when making the simplest communication with any institution (bank, insurance agent, cable company, phone company, etc) . I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they start checking up on Girl Scouts selling cookies (“Were you given the opportunity to pre-order your cookies?”). If everyone would just stop answering them, the madness would end.

  19. David
    October 23, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Wolf, Liberty makes great safes. I have several for guns, pistols, papers, gold silver coins and external hard drives. If your stuff is important to you it should be under your control.

    • October 23, 2016 at 9:34 am

      I need off-site backup. NOT in the cloud where everyone can hack into it, or just ask for it, if a government.

      • Mike Earussi
        October 23, 2016 at 1:12 pm

        Are there no private storage companies?

  20. walter map
    October 23, 2016 at 9:00 am

    “I thought: That’s how easy it is to block you from getting into your safe deposit box.”

    And if you’re still banking with them, you’re giving them permission to keep doing it. Also to steal your time, jerk you around, and otherwise play you like a rube.

    Reward-free risk is the current vogue. Take up base jumping, it’s safer. It will be too late to ditch them once the bail-ins start.

  21. AlbieOk
    October 23, 2016 at 9:02 am

    And the beatings will continue until morale improves!

  22. Can'tStandTheStench
    October 23, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Several years ago, my mother-in-law took out a reverse mortgage from Wells Fargo in order to live out her final days. Once the papers were signed and she paid gigantic sunk costs, the ripoff began. The misinformation, lies, and forced increases in insurance coverage after the fact were nightmares. I cancelled my own Wells Fargo accounts and won’t even open their mail now. I shutter even hearing their name!

    • October 23, 2016 at 9:32 am

      There are many horror stories about reverse mortgages – and those that sell them – out there. People should consider them toxic. There are a few cases where they might be a good solution, but I can’t think of any at the moment.

      • Ptb
        October 23, 2016 at 10:42 am

        I helped a couple of people with reverse mortgages Back in 2005. They were fine. They Charged a couple of points above normal. That’s about it. I checked with people in the mortgage business that I trusted and used a place with a good reputation. The money was very useful to the people who got them. Also, all the accumulated interest payments that come at the end are immediate deductible for the borrower or the beneficiaries of the estate. Also, since it’s a “loan” it is not a taxed event. having gone through this from inception to closing, I would not characterize this as “toxic” in any way. But, like anything in life, if you don’t do your home work, you can become a victim.

  23. r cohn
    October 23, 2016 at 9:54 am

    What would happen if they noticed that you were placing large amounts of cash in your safety deposit box?

    • Ptb
      October 23, 2016 at 10:53 am

      They have private rooms for you to use when opening the box and doing whatever it is you’ll be doing with it.

      • kitten lopez
        October 23, 2016 at 1:20 pm

        your trust THEIR private rooms when cameras and surveillance is damn near EVERYWHERE now and our emails might as well be public now??? and it takes so little to be considered some kind of “terrorist”???

        no dice. not me.

      • d
        October 23, 2016 at 8:16 pm

        I Greece when the banks reopened no box was allowed to be opened without a state inspector present in the private room.

        If its in the control of a bank

        YOU DONT OWN or control it, Simple.

        • Robert
          October 23, 2016 at 11:53 pm

          That’s interesting. In pursuance of FDR’s notorious 1933 Executive order making gold bullion ownership illegal (when U.S. dollars 20 and up were literally a receipt for gold bullion on demand previously), no one was allowed access to a safe deposit box except in the presence of a federal agent*. FDR, incidentally, had earlier made a loan to the Warm Springs Foundation (the predecessor of the March of Dimes) to whom he owed a debt of gratitude for its outstanding care in physical therapy for his polio.) He made sure to specify in the loan that it was to be repaid…in gold.
          * most interestingly, in Scot Berg’s biography of Charles Lindberg, the author revealed that after receiving a ransom demand for his kidnapped infant in 1932, Lindberg was visited by FBI agents who told him to pay with dollars that were gold certificates- they were wise to what was in store in 1933, and these notes, hidden in Bruno Hauptmann’s attic, helped send him to the electric chair.

  24. Mary
    October 23, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Great post. The algorithm explanation was an eye-opener.

    Almost never do I get beyond my BofA branch ATM, but recently I had to walk in the bank to ask something from a teller. The WF story had just broken, so I was joking around. Automatic smile from the teller, together with a penetrating look at my white hair and high checking account balance.

    Suddenly I was told I needed a savings account. Why? I replied. There is virtually no interest. To keep your money safe was her response. You mean, it’s not safe in my checking account? Sure, but it would be safer in a savings account because no one but you would have access. Huh? The stream of bogus logic followed me out the door.

    • Petunia
      October 23, 2016 at 10:55 am

      The reason you needed a savings account is because Dodd Frank treats balances in savings and checking accounts differently when bailing out the banks. They have more control and access to savings account money. This is all done by design, and yes, congress knew exactly what they were doing.

      Vote them all out while you still can.

      • kitten lopez
        October 23, 2016 at 1:22 pm

        whoa. i had NO idea. there you go again.

      • Mary
        October 23, 2016 at 3:08 pm

        I’m not sure what you are saying–that the bank teller is part of a conspiracy? Seems to me she was just prompted by her screen to try and sign me up for another account that I don’t need.

        And I have to respectfully disagree with the assumption that all politicians are crooks. To me that’s like saying the election is fixed. It encourages people to drop out of the process.

        There are members of Congress who I really believe in, including Sherrod Brown of Ohio (began fighting against free trade deals a decade ago) and Elizabeth Warren (who does everything possible to make the banksters lives a living hell).

        • Petunia
          October 23, 2016 at 3:36 pm

          The bank teller is trying to get you to open more accounts on purpose. The tellers do what they are told to do by management and there is always a good reason that benefits the bank.

          Dodd Frank allows for banks to be “resolved” (avoid bankruptcy) by taking our deposits and converting them to equity in the “resolved” institution. They can take your checking, savings, and safety deposit assets, read your agreements people. The reason the banks want you to have multiple accounts is that they can also assess fees to each account to make themselves whole. The more accounts you have, the more times they can assess you the fees.

          Senator Warren is the biggest fraud in congress. She puts on a good hearing, like Bernie, and then nothing ever comes of it because she is part of the problem. The Consumer Protection board she supported doesn’t protect consumers. It is a creature of the Federal Reserve Bank, which funds them. It is there to protect the banks from consumers. The latest Wells Fargo fine, 185M is part of the proof. Warren went on and on about the fine, which is less then the compensation the WF CEO Stumpf received during the course of the still ongoing scam.

        • Graham
          October 25, 2016 at 6:30 am

          “And I have to respectfully disagree with the assumption that all politicians are crooks. To me that’s like saying the election is fixed.”

          Err.. Google : Project Veritas DNC videos

          and see how they are rigged.
          Also look at the Wikileaks emails that show Bernie being rigged out of his candidacy. Hillary was the distant 3rd favourite – now the (rigged) polls put her first, despite the fact that any local poll or rally puts her a distant 2nd.

        • d
          October 25, 2016 at 7:00 am

          If you insist on playing the rigged card.

          At least play it honestly in a balanced manner.

          The entire US electoral and political system, is rigged.

          No matter which candidates win.

          They are still owned, by the Globalised Vasmpire Corporates allied currently with china.

          To change this, you have to change election campaign funding, in the US. Legislation to do this, will not fly in the current corporate controlled, electoral and political system

          Hence you have to start with term limits, for all elected politicians, in all branches, nationally, with a time out clause, to stop them moving up and down, between the branches.

          After you have achieved that, it may be possible to erode the current funding model, to eliminate the Globalised Vasmpire Corporates allied currently with china, from the system.

        • JMiller
          November 2, 2016 at 4:21 pm

          Petunia,

          You are not correct about bail-ins. Bail-in laws apply only to systemically important banks and only to uninsured deposits. And what is in the safe deposit box that you rent is not part of any bail-in.

          You are certainly unknowledgeable about these things.

        • d
          November 2, 2016 at 8:19 pm

          “And what is in the safe deposit box that you rent is not part of any bail-in.”

          Unless they get “Liquidated”.

          The the liquidator can claim anything and everything including the contents of the boxes.

          In some jurisdictions liquidators can demand all payments made to creditors in the last 2 years be return to them for a prorata % distribution as determined by them.

          If a bank or box company fails the bixholder can loose anything in the box of value and have to buy back their papers.

          Dosent happen every time but it can.

          Telling people it cant, is harmful disinformation.

        • JMiller
          November 5, 2016 at 11:20 pm

          Not true d. What is in the safe deposit box at the bank is your property. When a bank fails and another bank acquires the failed bank, the renter of the safe deposit box will be able to access their box usually next business day. If the failed bank is not acquired, then the renter of the safe deposit box is contacted by the FDIC and arrangements are made for them to get their items from the safe deposit box. This is a fact. Your obviously are ignorant of how it works so please read “When can I have access to my safe deposit box” in the link below.

          https://www.fdic.gov/consumers/banking/facts/payment.html

          I know of no example since the creation of the FDIC that a failed bank was allowed to keep what was in the safe deposit boxes. The bank has to return anything in the box to the renter or if unclaimed, to the state. And once again, safe deposit boxes are not part of bail-ins.

      • Robert
        October 23, 2016 at 11:59 pm

        IMHO, you may be better off with a demand deposit, i.e. checking, account, since as I understand it, the bank can impose a demand that they be given 30 day’s notice before withdrawing funds from a savings, but not checking account. If anyone thinks otherwise, I would be interested to hear what they have to say.

  25. Paulo
    October 23, 2016 at 10:34 am

    There is only one thing to say about your bank stories.

    Credit Union.

    They are fully insured, know who you are, employees are treated well and in our case Unionized, and profits stay in the community.

    I used to deal with a major Canadian Bank many many years ago. (Not much different than any major private bank, including WF). 35 years ago the term was up on my mortgage and they were going to charge me a fee to renew…for the paperwork, etc. It was only after I went a bit nutso on them for trying to squeeze out extra profits they backed down and offered a no fee renewal…simply to retain my business. Imagine that.

    I switched to the local Credit Union and have never looked back. Their ‘salaried’ Financial Advisor always offers me options and I know he receives no kickbacks or commissions for doing so. There is no turnover and the employees know who you are and often ask about family. I have vote on who sits on the Board. It’s a no-brainer.

    • Ptb
      October 23, 2016 at 11:32 am

      Protection from creditors and account attachments are also much more difficult if your account is in a credit union. IMHO, credit unions are better and safer places for the average consumer to keep their money

      • d
        October 23, 2016 at 8:21 pm

        as they are covered by FDIC this is a very true position you take.

    • robt
      October 23, 2016 at 11:45 am

      It’s surprising the number of fees a bank (or others) will waive if you simply ask.
      Nice to see you’re happy with the Credit Union though.

  26. Tom Kauser
    October 23, 2016 at 10:41 am

    The push for AUM is only going to get worst.
    Someday they will send high school students door to door to sign up new account holders!

  27. Ptb
    October 23, 2016 at 10:49 am

    A Quick note on cross selling…..a lot of revenue generation analysis has been done over the years and most of it points out very strongly that it is far easier and more cost effective to increase revenue generation with the existing customer base than it is to get new customers. So cross selling, up selling , etc are proven strategies. This information has been around for years, I’m really surprised it’s taken most industries so long to utilize it. Of course “banking” is about as slow on the uptake as they get.

  28. Lotz
    October 23, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Surveys are also product advertisement in disguise. Were you aware of.. (insert plug)…..

    Another reason is it forces the person to think about the company.

    Eye opener though with the targeted algorithm.

  29. TCG
    October 23, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Funny you mention that. I’ve never had Wells Fargo open fraudulent accounts in my name, but I’m waiting until I’m sure all direct deposit checks and any automatic payments have been successfully moved before closing my account there. It’s too bad since they have by far the most convenient atm network for me.

    I’ve found them a mixed bag. Many of the workers have been quite nice and helpful and I even made some ok interest off cds until that stopped in 2009. Their atms are some of the quickest and easiest to use and they’ve been quick about correcting fraudulent transactions on my account.

    I used to get frequent upselling phone soliciting until I blocked their sales number. It’s funny that they try selling so hard at some times, since a while back they seemed fairly uninterested (based on their slow and noncompetitive actions) in offering us a mortgage which would make them quite a lot of interest over the long term, especially with prices in a city like San Francisco.

    My personal take with upselling is simply to go in with my own robot script which is something like “I’m not interested. No. No.” These poor workers have to follow their script. I’ve been through the other side when I had to work at a phone survey company as a freshman in college and we had to ask people to make a choice at least once after every time they said “I don’t know.” I’m sure they are required to hear “no” at least 2 or 3 times or they get poor performance reviews. Unfortunately, most businesses (phone, cable, banks, electronics sellers, even restaurants) now follow these upselling tactics even if people don’t want their ancillary products. They’ve learned that some unexpectedly high percentage of people can be pushed into buying something they don’t really want if they are forced to say no multiple times.

    They have a script, why shouldn’t individuals have their own to counteract their obnoxious tactics? I often stare off into space and start drumming my fingers while they yammer on after the first “no.” “Oh, are you done yet? The answer is still ‘no’.” Or “if you want a different answer, go ask someone else, the answer is still ‘no’.” :-) Or for the “today only” Comcast deal. “Since you’re trying to make me make an immediate decision, the answer will always be ‘no.’ If your deal is so bad that it can’t hold up to a real comparison then I don’t want it.” Comcast guy wasn’t happy, but there is a special place in hell for door to door salesmen like him and you don’t need to be pals with any of these people who try to pressure you into decisions in their favor.

  30. polistra
    October 23, 2016 at 11:19 am

    It’s not just banks!

    As I read through your experience, it matched step-by-step my recent experience with the Group Health HMO. I’d been dealing with them for 10 years and had been happy until this year. Now that they’ve been bought by Kaiser Permanente, they’re behaving exactly like Wells Fargo. I showed up for a scheduled annual ‘prescription check’ to renew my blood pressure pills.

    Appointment wasn’t in the computer; had to wait for next available doc; doc didn’t seem to have any of my records, and asked all sorts of questions. I kept pushing to focus the encounter on RELEASING THE PILLS FROM CAPTIVITY, and the doc kept trying to find reasons for more tests to justify more medications and more ways to keep me in captivity. My push was hard enough and abrasive enough to win, and I walked out with pills in hand.

    A week later a survey came in the mail, again matching the survey you got from Wells Fargo.

    I assumed the problem was incompetence. Now I can see it’s just another form of cross-selling.

  31. Lolo Gecko
    October 23, 2016 at 11:20 am

    … this is your wake-up call … banks will go the way of the S&L debacle … I stopped dealing with WF many years ago … ditto BoA, etc. … find yourself a good (deserving of your trust) credit union … honest bankers and honest politicians … are right up there with honest used car salesmen … have a great day ….

  32. Ishkabibble
    October 23, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Because nobody from WF went to jail for their recent promotional behavior, the fines are going to be regarded by bank controllers and investors merely as part of the increased cost of doing business.

    Therefore, they’ve got to now, some how, by “whatever it takes”, INCREASE profits in order to cover those additional costs (fines). So employees at all levels are going to have to get even MORE “imaginative” in concocting ways of extracting money from customers.

    Wolf, the fact that you are still uncertain (even with hind-sight reflection on the incident and the fact that you had to endure essentially a sales pitch) about exactly “what was going on” with your safe-deposit box may be an indication, or even proof, of that creativity.

    If I had experienced the same, I would take it as strong evidence of a new-age strategy to separate me from my “wealth”.

    Just exactly WHY did WF “update” its computer system (if it in fact did)? I think it is safe to say that usually banks do these expensive things as “investments” that will somehow generate more profit.

    What would be interesting to know is whether or not this “update” just coincidentally requires ALL box-renters, not just Wolf Richter, to endure the sales pitch. After all, nobody is going to “voluntarily” submit themselves to the bank’s pitch, so the bank employees have to apply their creative imaginations and “invent” a way to “encourage” customers to not only “voluntarily” hear the pitch, but to give responses to it. And how better to accomplish that than to kidnap their customers’ safe-deposit boxes until these box-holders pay the ransom of giving answers to questions that finally allow them access to their boxes ……….and to actually be thankful to the bank for finally granting them that privilege! (For customers it was a lot easier to endure the pitch than hiring a lawyer and suing for access. “Whew! That was a close one!”)

    One last observation. WHO is going to represent WF’s customers’ interest and drive to the bank to find out if there actually WAS an “update” to the bank’s computer system that requires long-term box-holders to endure a sales pitch?

    • TheDona
      October 23, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      It is a classic Long Con. WF sets the stage and the poor naive worker bees follow the false narrative they are given.

  33. walter map
    October 23, 2016 at 11:29 am

    “They have learned nothing.”

    Not true.

    They’ve learned how to lie, cheat, and steal, and get away with it so well the rubes just keep on coming back as if nothing has happened.

    Corporate crimes large and small, ongoing and repeated, are accepted by the general population and their representatives.

    Therefore you will continue to have corporate crimes large and small, ongoing and repeated, until there is nothing left to pillage burn.

    Most people have gotten used to it, including a lot of people who should know better.

    Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.

    – John Maynard Keynes

    • robt
      October 23, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Just substitute ‘Faith in government’ for ‘Capitalism’, and see which most people prefer, remembering that businesses have to earn and keep your business but the government arbitrarily orders it, legislates against any other choice, and punishes you if you attempt to do anything other than what they order.

      BTW, OT, but for an amusing read, try:
      Capitalism, Communism, and Coexistence, by Galbraith and Stanislav Menshikov.
      An astonishing record of a dialogue, or rather a mutual love-in, in which millionaire socialist Galbraith rhapsodizes with Marxist economist Menshikov about Capitalism and Soviet communism and how the systems will merge, to the benefit of both, immediately before the collapse of the Soviet Union, which neither man even suspected was imminent.

      • walter map
        October 23, 2016 at 6:10 pm

        “businesses have to earn and keep your business”

        The object lesson here is precisely the opposite: they do not have to “earn and keep your business”. Quite the contrary: the evidence clearly shows they can get away with massive frauds for years on end and still keep their customer base through sheer inertia.

        ” the government arbitrarily orders it”

        All corporate predators whine like that. Heaven forfend you should get caught signing up your customers for things they don’t want, don’t need, and can’t afford so you can bleed them.

    • Ptb
      October 23, 2016 at 12:34 pm

      Exactly. They’ve learned they can get away with it.

  34. James
    October 23, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I bank online with Wells. For as long as I can remember, the first thing I am created with is a cross sell for credit card, credit line, mortgage etc. The choices to get past it are normally “ask me later”, “no thanks”, or “apply now”. I always answer “no thanks”. It doesn’t matter, they continue to ask. When the scandal broke, the cross sell went away! When I logged in, it went right to my account. I thought this was great, it took a scandal of epic proportions to get rid of this nuisance I have dealt with for years.

    I logged in this morning, to my dismay the vultures are back. Of course I said “no thanks” to their most amazing credit card on earth with interest rates of 18+% when they get money for close to 0%. This time I’m going to track how long it takes them to “ask me later” .

  35. david
    October 23, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    Curious if they have put restrictions on your box? Chase won’t let me keep cash there or coins. It was a year or so ago I got the letter so I don’t remember all the details as I don’t have a box there.

    • October 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      I don’t keep cash in the box, but I’m allowed to. Obviously some items, such as controlled substances and explosives, are off limits. But no one checks what you put in your box.

      I’ve heard about a Chase rule against cash, but that must be bank-set rule rather than a rule set by regulators.

  36. Paul Easton
    October 23, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    In a fit of misplaced idealism couple years ago I open an account with Amalgamated of NY the Labor Bank. They screwed me royally.

    The computer at Tiaa Direct made t mistake and I had to write to CFP board to get it fixed.

    OTOH I have long had account with Chase and no hassles at all. They even forgave a big card debt once.

    Moral is if you got to swim with sharks go with the fattest one.

  37. NotSoSure
    October 23, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Well it depends on what kind of lessons are supposed to be learned here. If it’s about perseverance and getting through tough times, then I suppose Wells Fargo is showing that they are pretty good students :)

    I mean it makes a good story for little kids at night. “Daddy/Mommy got busted opening accounts by the bad regulators. BUT, Daddy/Mommy got up in the morning, shove those annoying rules aside, and do again, and again, and again. Ok, let’s go to church!!!”

    LOL at Western hypocrisy.

  38. tom
    October 23, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    Wonderful post that encapsulates the whole “problem”. Thanks for posting.

  39. Bob
    October 23, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, The Rockefeller Foundation, Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi, 100 Women in Hedgefunds, Nasser Al-Rashid, Banc of California, Barclays Capital, Citi Foundation, Dubai Foundation, Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, Friends Of Saudi Arabia, HSBC Holdings, Inter-American Development Bank, Capital Foundation, State of Qatar, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Bank of America Foundation, Citigroup Inc, Depart of Finance & Admin. – State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Soros Foundation, The Blackstone Group L.P. , Banco Santander Brasil S.A., BMCE Bank, Deutsche Bank AG, Deutsche Bank Americas, Goldman Sachs Philanthropy Fund … Nope, I do not see a Contribution listed from Wells Fargo to the Clinton foundation.

  40. Patrick Wilson
    October 23, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Wells Fargo has been a corrupt anti consumer bank for at least the last 24 years to my knowledge. They tried to charge me a fee to cash a check drawn on a wf account and were startled when I said no and asked for the check back the teller had to call a manager over just to return to me what was mine only an idiot would bank with this group of thieves.

  41. Ham
    October 23, 2016 at 8:11 pm

    Since you seem to be a community minded kind of guy I find it odd you’re using a national bank like Wells Fargo.

    Credit unions are the way to go. Or haven’t you written scores of articles on corruption related to these national banks??

    Close your account and get a real bank that works for you.

  42. ERG
    October 23, 2016 at 10:16 pm
  43. JB
    October 23, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    Do you still have a deposit box with Wells Fargo?

    • October 24, 2016 at 12:17 am

      Moi? Sure. For offsite data backup only.

      • JB
        October 24, 2016 at 10:46 pm

        They wasted your time and harassed you. Wells Fargo doesn’t deserve your business. The best form of protest is to take your business elsewhere.

        I use to bank with Bank of America a long time ago. One day I went to use the ATM machine to get a reading of my account. This was way before smart phone apps. I used an Express button to get my account balance. I did not know the bank charged a $1 to use the button. B of A thought they could use this trick and get away with it. I went to the teller and complained about this fee. A few weeks later I withdrew all of my cash and opened an account down the street with a competitor.

        • October 24, 2016 at 11:27 pm

          Look, every time I go into a business, no matter what business, they’re going to try to sell me something. No sales, no GDP. No sales, no jobs.

          A bank is no different. Like a car dealership, which was one of the points. Just count your fingers after you shakes hands with them.

          WF didn’t “harass” me. They tried to sell me something. And there was a screw-up (box) which they fixed. I wrote the article to show how their system worked. And that these things are decided at the top, despite vigorous denials.

  44. Ohno
    October 23, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Sadly the herds who work for the banks pushing these upsells, get paid poorly for doing so, meanwhile banks making big bucks

  45. Chicken
    October 24, 2016 at 1:16 am

    My bank closed all my accounts and sent me a letter of condolences on my death. Ha! So most everything was screwed up on my vacation, almost didn’t get back home as a result except I took a pile of cash with me.

    So now we will have this post of mine in the bit can stored in their deposit box, I hope it helps their bottom line in some incrementally small way and regret it doesn’t stuff said box full of useless dribble capable of jamming their radar, LOL.

    Well, that was fun……

  46. Bobcat
    October 24, 2016 at 9:55 am

    I highly recommend a good credit union. Which one depends on where you are. In NC, State Employees Credit Union is the best. We got in because my mother in law was a public school teacher. They are old school, no shenanigans.

    As for the major banks, they are all crooked. Fargovia, Bank Robbers of America and Sunbust are all cut from the same cloth. I’m not surprised to hear they are still up to the same old tricks. Smells Fartgo held Wolf’s box hostage in a ruse to collect more info and create opportunities for cross-selling.

  47. Julian the Apostate
    October 24, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Poor Wolf. He scribbles and thinks and analyzes and produces reams of brilliant insight, keeps us updated on all the skullduggery around the world…but rent one little safe deposit box and he’s suddenly (gasp!) a banksters enabler. Shame on the lot of you!

    • October 24, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      You should see the emails I got!!!

      :-]

  48. d
    October 24, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    There is an easier and cheaper way to achieve this, and retain your integrity.

    Simply look you dont have any money, then this problem will only occur in budget stores. Where it is easy to move along the sales staff with a simple, I am just pricing something.

    I never lie, then I dont have to remember exactly what I said/wrote, ever.

  49. Julian the Apostate
    October 25, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I bet Wolf. In some ways you are like “the fighter with wild beasts who begs to be kept over to the following day, where he faces the same claws and bites” (Marcus Aurelius). You are aptly named😏

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