Wells Fargo Bank: In my opinion they must be the Single WORST BANK IN THE WORLD!!!!
Please please please if you are using Wells Fargo. Please switch banks. Do not reward this bank with your patronage. You're only helping an evil empire. Please get out now.
I've been with Wells Fargo bank for 9 years now and I can safely say that nobody in their right mind would bank with them. They are an atrocious bank. Completely and utterly incompetent. I don't understand how they've gotten to the position they are in being this bad. It seems nearly impossible to contemplate.
The following is not the only thing that has happened to me but it is the most recent and so the most clear in my mind.
In August 2000 I decide I'm going to move back to Japan. Knowing how complicated it is to get money to a Japan (as I've lived here before) I call Wells Fargo 24hr hotline and ask them about setting something up for transferring money to Japan.
They say the (1) I can setup something called an "International Re−occurring Wire Transfer" but that (2) they have no idea how to set that up as they, at the hotline center, do not have those forms and so I need to go into a branch. Not only that but I HAVE TO DO IT AT A BRANCH. I can not be sent the forms instead and just do it through mail.
So, a couple of weeks later I go into the Brentwood branch (closest to my apartment at the time) and get the forms. The guy at the bank gives me 3 forms. I take them home and attempt to fill them out but of course there are many banking terms I am unfamiliar with like ABA/routing number etc so I end up going into a branch and asking. I'm told I need the branch name, address, account number and routing number / ABA number.
So I go home and call the bank in Japan and ask for that info (actually, I ask a Japanese friend to do it for me). She says they say they don't know anything about ABA numbers or routing numbers
So I go back to the branch and I ask and then BEG for an example of a Japanese ABA/routing number so that when I call my bank in Japan I can explain what I'm looking for. For example if I told you I need a number that looked like this 542−124−6541 you'd probably know just by looking at it that it's a phone number. 51235 is a zip code as is 65343−1236. 512−12−4552 is a SS# and 6431 1234 6423 9632 is a credit card #. The bank is absolutely no help. The claim they do transfers to Japan often but that they will not even tell me the number of digits as in XXX−XXX−XXX. I do find out one useful piece of information. They claim I don't really need this number. It just might take a few extra days without it.
So I go back home and ask another Japanese friend to call the bank in Japan. I get the same answer, there is no ABA/routing #. Of course like an idiot I believe Wells Fargo Bank instead of my friend and assume that I didn't know how to communicate what I meant to her so she could explain it to the bank in Japan.
So, okay, I decide if they they don't really need this number I'll just fill out the forms without it. So what if it takes an extra few days. So, I go to the Santa Monica branch since I'm familiar with it. It was the closest bank to my old job. I get in line for the tellers and I ask for help with these forms for "Re−occurring international wire transfers" The teller has no clue and after fumbling around for a couple of minutes gets somebody with more experience. That person fumbles around some more, calls somebody and finally hands me 4 forms (2 of which are different than the 3 forms I already have) and she hands me a small note with a phone number and says here are all the forms, and here's the number to call if you have any question.
So, I sit down in the lobby to fill out the forms. I call the number. It's the 24hr hotline number. I get the same answer I got before. The hotline people have no clue about those forms. They don't even have copies they could look at if they wanted to. So now I'm getting pissed off. As I'm on my cell phone and I'm in the lobby of the bank I grab the nearest bank person, and hand them the cell phone and tell them to sort it out. Who the F*CK is supposed to deal with this because the branch just told me to call this number and the people at this number are telling me to talk to the branch.
The guy I gave the phone to tells that guy on the phone that he's a branch manager, he knows what to do and he'll take care of it.
So I wait in the lobby for over an hour while he deals with the 3 people that were in front of me. Finally it's my turn. I sit down at his desk. He hands me 3 bank forms, one of which is different still then the 7 forms I've already been handed. He also pulls out somebody else's forms and says copy these forms and just change parts that you need to change. I do that. He double checks it, says every thing is great and gives me a new number to call which he says is the number I'll call when I need to make a transfer. I thank him and leave
So, 3 weeks later I'm in Japan and I need money ASAP. You are only allowed to take $10000 out of the U.S. More than that and it is considered that you are doing something fishy. Renting an apartment in Japan generally costs 6 months rent. First month's rent, 2 months deposit, 2 months key money, 1 month realtor fee. For a $1200 apartment that's $7200.00 + more for things like manager's fee, insurance etc. I brought $9800 with me to Japan but of course I had things I needed to pay for and so I'm down to $7000.00 So, I call that number. I'm told that they have no paperwork to speak of about me. WHAT!!!!!!! They double−check but no, they have no paperwork and they say I should go into a branch and fill out new forms. Of course I explain to them that I'm in Japan now. I can't just pop over to a branch. Well, they end up giving me the number for the Santa Monica branch.
I call. I don't know the branch manager's name but I do know what he looked like and where he sits. They figure out who it is but he's out until Monday (it's Thursday).
So I call back Monday. He remembers me and says he'll check into it and call me back. I explain I'm in Japan and it's 4am. He says to call him back tomorrow morning and he'll have it all figured out.
I call back the next morning, he's in a meeting. He doesn't get out until 10am (that's 2am here in Japan). Note that these calls aren't cheap. I'm living in a motel trying to rent an apartment.
He says he doesn't know what happened. He sent in the forms and he has no idea where they went. The best he can do is send me new forms. Of course that will take a week or 2 and then more time to send them back. I don't know what else to do so I say okay, hoping that even if I figure out a way around this it will at least be fixed in the future. Note that as I write this (2 months later) those forms HAVE STILL NOT SHOWN UP!!!!!
That's not the end of it. First a more minor one.
In order to get a student visa (a visa is permission from Japan to live in Japan for a specific purpose), I need certain things. One thing I need which wasn't clear before I came here is I need a "balance statement signed by a bank manager" showing that I have enough money to live in Japan without a real job for as long as I plan to be here.
I call Wells Fargo and ask for one. It took a while to get them to do it but eventually I got a supervisor on the 24hr hotline to claim she can take care of it. 10 days later it has not shown up and I'm quickly running out of time. There's a deadline to apply for a student visa.&n bsp; Miss it and you have to wait another 3 months to get one.
So I call again and explain what I need. They tell me that they, the 24hr hotline people, can't do it but that I can call some special department that can handle it. I call that department. They are closed. I call the next day when they are open and am told by that department that they have nothing to do with what I need. Their department deals with businesses. They tell me to call the 24hr hotline again and ask for something specific. I've since forgotten the term but they claim if I say that term, something like "official account history" or something like that they'll get it right this time.
So I call the 24hr hotline again. I use that term. They don't get it. After more run around I get a supervisor again and finally she gets it and after much begging she sends the correct forms. Thank goodness.
So the next problem, Wells Fargo decides to change my routing number in mid November. I don't think about it much until early December. I'm told by my accountant that I need to pay a certain amount of money in taxes before December 31st or I'll be fined $8000.00 in late fees. Yes, that's 8 grand. Pretty important that I get that money in.
So, I'm about to send in a 540ES and a 1040ES until I think, "hey wait a minute, if they changed my routing number that means that the checks I have are no good anymore." I call the 24hr hotline to verify that and I'm correct. WELLS FARGO HAS ARBITRARILY INVALIDATED ALL MY CHECKS!!! What the F*CK is wrong with them!!! You'd think that common sense would suggest that if you are going to invalidate somebody's checks you'd have to issue them new ones BEFORE you invalidate their old ones. It almost seems like there might even be a law against this. Anybody using checks on a regular basis could be really screwed!!!
I ask them about new checks and of course they take a couple of weeks and getting them to Japan is another story all together. I ask about emergency checks and they say "Oh, just pop down to a local branch and..." I'm in JAPAN!!!!! So, the best they can do is put a rush order on the checks. My account is currently registered to my sister's address and the guy on the phone says the checks will be there within 5 business days. I have him read my address. It's WRONG!!! Even though I called Wells Fargo and updated my address with them, which can be verified since the statements have been being delivered to my sister, they didn't update it here. Fortunately I asked him to check it and he claims to have fixed it just before he put in the order. This is Dec 12th.
Dec 22nd comes around and my sister has not received any checks yet. So I call the 24 hour hotline again. After digging around for a while I'm told the checks are at the Newport Beach branch and nobody can explain to me why they went there. My sister lives an hour away (when there's no traffic) from Newport Beach. They give me the phone number to the branch. I call the branch and the lady there offers to send them to my sister. Of course at this point I don't trust Wells Fargo to be able to do anything correctly so I ask if I can have a friend that's close by come pick them up. She says that would be okay and asks for my friend's name. I ask my friend John who works 2 minutes from there to go get the checks. He got'em. Thank goodness. UUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!
It's not over.
So now I'm running out of money again here in Japan and it's time to transfer more money. Before I left for Japan I looked into opening an account at Citibank because Citibank has a special department, Citibank PBOE (Personal Banking for Overseas Employees) That can and does regularly handle transferring money to foreign accounts for people like me. The only bad thing about those accounts (so far) is that they cost $22 a month. ($15 if you keep a $5K balance) Of course Wells Fargo said I could set up the same thing with them but we see how well they did that. But, incase I wanted to switch to Citibank I asked Wells Fargo before I left for Japan about domestic transfers and was told no problem as long as the same name is on both accounts.
So, now it's 12/30 and I want to get some more money over here. I'll probably need it by the end of January. I call Wells Fargo 24hr again thinking everything is going to be fine. Especially since I've had no problems transferring money from E−Trade Broker AND E−Trade Bank over the phone and because Wells Fargo told me it would be fine. NOPE!!! Wells Fargo will not do wire transfers over the phone period. You have to go into a branch!!!! The only kind of transfer Wells Fargo will do is from one Wells Fargo account to another!!! UUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!
Half an hour on the phone trying to get Wells Fargo to take some responsibility for these problems and deal with it but they won't budge.
I really don't get how they stay in business. I'm not a lawyer but it seems to me that I should be able to hold them liable for both the costs getting money here because they lost my "Re−occurring International Wire Transfer" forms. THEY LOST THEM. THEIR MISTAKE. THERE RESPONSIBILITY. Also the whole check issue. Randomly invalidating all my checks. THEIR ACTION. THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. If I do miss the deadline for my taxes (we'll see, it's Dec 30th and no record of the checks having been cashed.) If I do get penalized I will talk to lawyers about recovering the penalty from Wells Fargo.
On top of that they charge me $20.50 a month!!!! They charge me $10.50 a month just to have my account. $2 a month to return my checks. $3 a month called a "Quicken Online Monthly Charge" and $5 a month called "Quicken Bill Payment"
If I'm paying to have my checks returned and I'm paying for online bill payment, what's the $10.50 a month for? What service do I get for that. Clearly they have not provided me with any service. I wonder if there's any legal issues there? I.e., service paid for but service NOT received.
Note: this is far from the first time I've had problems with them. The reason I've kept with them is mostly because it's a pain in the butt for me to switch banks. I use electronic payment though the internet using Quicken (as I have been for 9 years now) and switching banks would mean going without that for a month possibly as well as ATM card issues etc. This is it though. I'm switching. I can't deal with it anymore. They are more then useless and they are actually causing REAL problems for me. Problems that cost ME money and time to fix. Problems that force me to involve and inconvenience family and friends to get fixed.
I remember about 7 years ago being pissed off enough to want to switch. That wasn't the only time either. I actually stormed out of a branch and spent the rest of the day interviewing banks. At the time the best bank appeared to be Fidelity Federal. It's was a smaller bank though and with few branches and a month after that episode I moved to the San Francisco area and so I didn't end up switching at that time.
Now I just can't take it anymore. Anybody know a bank that works? Although I'll be using the Citibank PBOE for transfers and stuff they don't have all the features I want and they are expensive so I'm still looking for another bank for my main bank.
U U U U U U G G G G G G G G H H H H H H H H H H ! ! ! ! !
Please please please if you are using Wells Fargo. Please switch banks. Do not reward this bank with your patronage . You're only helping an evil empire. Please get out now.