The following is the text of a message I sent to Mr. John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo:
Mr. Stumpf, I would normally try to resolve these issues on a more local level, but today, this has been a problem on such a scale that you need to know that you have a serious customer service problem. On Feb 22, $900 was removed from our account. The caption on the withdrawal reads “withdrawal made in a branch/store.” I should point out that any time we’ve taken money out, the location of the bank or ATM are distinctly cited on our online statements. On Feb 24 doing a routine review of our account I noticed that $900 was missing and the “withdrawal,” after speaking with my wife, had not been taken out of the account by either of us. Recognizing that something was amiss, my wife contacted Wells Fargo, via the fraud department to advise that there was money missing from our account. Thus begins the sordid tale of customer service that could only be described as unconscionably poor.
The evening of Feb 24, my wife called the fraud department and was transferred to no fewer than 3 people trying to get the issue resolved. At each stage she had to recite the account number and last 4 digits of her social security number. As an aside, we both understand the need for security, but when you have to repeat the same story multiple times, it suggests that no information is passed along that one would have to repeat it multiple times. My wife spoke with a Jason, Shane and Tom, and while all were pleasant, none seemed capable of resolving the issue. It was, however this point where one of your personnel acknowledged that this was a “clerical error,” and as a result, the money would be reinstated within 24 hours. By the way, it was particularly irritating that your lower level personnel insisted on trying to sell us a fraud prevention product, that we don’t need, as we have such a product from another vendor.
On Friday, Feb 25, we checked the account and the money had not been returned to the account. Now the frustration escalates as we don’t like being lied to. We called in a second time, again go through the multiple levels of voice recognition to get to a human being. On this day, we were informed of a “claim number” (XQR055H193611) assigned to the case. We expressed our disappointment that the aforementioned reinstatement of our missing money would be dealt with and would be returned to the account by midnight.
On Saturday, Feb 26, the money had STILL not been re-deposited. My wife called again and this time was informed that “this is not a fraud issue, but a customer service issue” and that she needed to speak with Customer Service. By now, my wife is exasperated to the point of hysterical laughter and near tears having now learned that TWICE she was told the money would be back in our account and TWICE this did not happen. This, of course, was after the “normal” navigation to reach a human being. My wife was rerouted to three different people and at every stage was made to feel as if this was a problem we created. The final straw was the discovery (at least the issue was finally isolated) that the problem occurred at a bank in Austin, Texas, but WE would have to call the bank in order to get the issue resolved. That was after being told that we would have to go into the bank and speak to someone there. OOPS…Austin, Texas is 1,382 miles away…does that make any sane sense at all?!?! The only good news to this story is that we finally reached a Ms. Jennifer Rodriguez in one of the Austin branches. Jennifer promptly intervened, promised to call back with a resolution–which she did–and reinstated the missing $900 in less than 10 minutes!
So here it is in a nutshell: Anyone can make a mistake. I hold no issue with the teller accidentally transposing two digits on an account number. My wife, by her own admission, is dyslexic and working in customer service herself, must pay close attention to patient record entries. Our issue is with the inept manner in which my wife was given the run around by the call center personnel and the multiple prevarications in being told that the money would be placed back in the account–when it wasn’t. For all the hassle over three days to then resolve it with a simple ten minute transaction with one of the local folks in Austin, tells me that you need to seriously consider remedial training for the people in your call centers. I can assure you that if any one of them had been on our side of these conversations, with a significant amount of money missing from their accounts, they would have had a much different attitude about the situation being resolved–and quickly, too!
Mr. Stumpf, we have our bank accounts and our mortgage with Wells Fargo. You came perilously close to losing both of them today. My wife and I are both customer-facing, professionally, and we certainly know what good customer service is–and isn’t. The purpose of this note isn’t to get anyone punished (which is all too often the knee-jerk reaction), but to cause improvement among your telephone personnel. I leave those endeavors in your capable hands.
Let’s see if we hear back from Wells Fargo. Stay tuned!
UPDATE — 3/4/11: My original message to John Stumpf was bounced back (“address not found”…yeah, right!) so I dug around some more and found a Mr. Mark Oman, Sr. VP of Home and Consumer Finance. That seemed to do the trick because the following Tuesday, we heard from a Ms. Georgie Renshaw, on behalf of John Stumpf. She called to express her concern over the whole episode and showed genuine remorse over the call center folks that behaved so poorly. Georgie spoke with my wife for nearly an hour and at the end, credited our account $100 for the hassle. She also asked if she could use my letter as an example in a training session on how NOT to treat a customer. The good news: The issue was resolved and we actually heard from someone representing the executive level of the bank. The bad news is that it took a letter to the CEO to shake things up. I do still give a shoutout to the bank management in Austin that actually took a little personal initiative and made the problem go away in the first place.