How I Fought Back Against Wells Fargo Fees

Wells Fargo Dumb FeesI am an extremely frustrated Wells Fargo customer. Maybe since I’ve always been a capitalist at heart, I never really was bothered too much by bank fees, because most of the time they seemed, on some level, to make sense. However, earlier this month, I came across a fee at Wells Fargo that really made no sense at all – a bank-to-bank transfer fee from my checking account. Not only did the fee not make sense, Wells Fargo has two levels of the same fee!

Wells Fargo Free ChecksNow, you may ask why it doesn’t make sense? Well, because my account with Wells Fargo is their PMA Package, which, if you maintain certain limits on accounts, you get all sorts of free stuff. Apparently, bank-to-bank transfers are not one of them, but I get free checking, AND free checks. Yes, Wells Fargo will pay to give me free checks, which I could write to myself to transfer money, but they will charge if I do it online and save them money? Makes no sense (and maybe you see where this post is going!).


Customer Service Could Fix This…

Now, being an optimist, I thought a quick phone call to Wells Fargo could resolve the situation. I called the PMA Member hotline (yes, they do try to make you feel warm and fuzzy), and I told the representative my concern. The representative at PMA Checking said “that is online banking, I can’t help you, I don’t know and don’t have access to those systems”. Fair enough, so she transferred me to a representative at online banking. The representative at online banking was even less helpful – it was more of a long pause, some flipping through a manual (I could hear her doing this on the phone), and finally a “Ummm…I don’t really know, you need to speak to someone at PMA Checking…” and then she transferred me back.

So, speaking to the third person, back again at PMA Checking, I told them my concern again, and the gentleman again said he didn’t know, it was an online banking thing. I ask him, as the concierge for PMA Checking, if he could just do the transfer, and he informed me that bankers in his division aren’t allowed to do bank-to-bank transfers (very odd, because that is a pretty common banking request). He said, once again, that I needed to speak to online banking, but he recommended I speak to a supervisor over there, and he transferred me again.

Back at online banking, the fourth person I’ve spoken to at Wells Fargo, I finally spoke to someone who knew a little more. She told me the fee structure was correct, and that it couldn’t be waived. I asked for her supervisor, and she said the only people who could waive the fee were the “executives”. She put me on hold while she asked them, and then came back a few minutes later and told me “No”.

Since Wells Fargo is Dumb, I’m Going Leaving Them, and They Will Pay For It

Ordering Free Checks

I no longer want to be a Wells Fargo customer, and I’m going to get my money out of there – but I’m going to make it costly for Wells Fargo – not just from losing my business (I’m nothing to them), but I’m going to use my PMA “Perks” to rack up some fees.

First, to get my money, I need some checks! Checks are free to the customer with my PMA Package, so no worries! Lot’s of free designs to choose from, and free shipping too!

I wonder how much that cost Wells Fargo? I’m sure Wells Fargo gets a discount for orders, but my guess would be it cost them about $2 for the checks, plus another $1 to ship it to me. Total: $3.

Hey! That’s the same as the bank transfer fee Wells Fargo was trying to charge me!

Maybe Wells Fargo should just have free bank-to-bank transfers instead of offering free checks…it may save them more money!


How This Cost Wells Fargo More Than Any Fee – Step by Step

Step 1. Checks Arrive.

Wells Fargo PMA Checking

Look What Came In The Mail Today

Step 2. Write myself a check and deposit it at home using my scanner at an awesome bank like USAA.

USAA Deposit at Home

Step 3. Shit…this wasn’t supposed to happen…damn accidents.

Wells Fargo Free Checking

Oh No! I Slipped and The Checks Fell Into The Paper Shredder!

Step 4. Order More Checks. Another few charges for Wells Fargo to incur.

Ordering Free Checks

Step 5. Checks arrive.

Wells Fargo Checking Fees

New Box of Checks is Here!

Step 6. Repeat until all my money is out of Wells Fargo!

This is why people hate banks – not because of fees in general, but because their fees make no sense, and their customer service is too ingrained in the company culture to understand that from a customer’s perspective. Wells Fargo’s executive team should have had the common sense to see this wasn’t a wise fee, and could have easily waived it. However, they chose not to.

Let’s see how this business model plays out:

  • Earn $3 fee, customers upset
  • Earn $3 fee, customer upset, customer leaves Wells Fargo, Wells Fargo loses business
  • Earn $3 fee, upset blogger, posts on his site, other customers realize it
  • Earn $3 fee, upset individual who will find ways to not pay fee, end up costing Wells Fargo more than $3 and individual still leaves Wells Fargo
  • Don’t earn $3 fee, I stay as a customer, Wells Fargo uses my money to make loans, Wells Fargo makes money
  • Don’t earn $3 fee, I don’t find ways to leave Wells Fargo, I don’t use my free check perk, Wells Fargo saves expenses

Wells Fargo, when you read this (I’m sure you will), you need to get each division of your company (online, PMA banking, whatever) on the same page, and make a fee structure that makes sense. I cost you more money than you would have ever recouped in fees from me, AND you lost me as a banking customer. Charging dumb fees doesn’t really seem like a good business model now, does it?

Readers, have you experienced anything like this? I would love it if you could help promote and get this story out there!

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  1. says

    Grrrr! I freaking hate the run around. How about trying to solve the issue before transferring me to someone else! I’m not a WF customer but unfortunately, after some conversations with friends who are, I’m not surprised. Who still uses checks anyway?

    • says

      I know! Just solve my problem, and its all good. But no, had to give me the run around, and they want to charge fees that I can easily get out of!

  2. says

    Nicely done. Made me giggle especially when that check slipped into shredder. Oh well things happen as you said. :-)))) Great post. A lot of poeple are leaving banks lately because of their fees that don’t make sense. You don’t use your c/c, you pay a fee. You use it, you pay a fee. So what gives?

  3. says

    I don’t understand some of WF’s practices either. But be prepared for another $75 fee when you move your brokerage account over. Since you are closing your PMA account, I’m assuming you will be moving your brokerage account as well.

  4. says

    Funny, my most recent post was about how I ended up being a member of a giant monster mega bank. Although mine is not Wells Fargo, I can’t wait until I am mistreated. Now that I have this money blog thing going, it will be fun to post about their stupidity and bad customer service the way you did.

    Unrelated to retaliating against bad customer service, I sometimes retaliate against unwanted credit card offers that stream into my mailbox almost daily. I shred the credit card application, then pick the shreddings out of the shredder and return them in the “postage-paid” envelope that is provided. Just like your retaliation, it costs me a little bit of time, but gives me a small sense of satisfaction to know that I got back at the big banks!

  5. says

    I also have business with Wells Fargo on one of my mortgages. So far, I have not had any issues with them, probably because I do not have banking service with them. I used M&T bank for more than 15 years. They are great.

  6. chaimaa says

    i LOVE this post , good job robert ! reading this i wil never use wells fargos bank i mean charging u with fees for a 3$ its just silly ! and innaceptable !

  7. Courtney says

    This is kind of amazing to me. I’m wondering if PMA people still get free checks? Because I’m just a regular Wells Fargo customer and I’ve been trying to order checks online from them for about 2 months (checks that I would pay for) and their site crashes on me every single time. Every time I write to customer service about it, I get a generic “We wish to make banking easy for you and we apologize for your shitty experience but we aren’t going to fix it” or a “Well you could always come to the bank and wait an hour to talk to a rep in that copious time we’re sure you have!” email. Finally I gave up and ordered from some random company. But honestly? Can they not get anything right?

    • says

      No, they can’t seem to get much right – but they also don’t care. They’ve realized they can make more money if they don’t care. The best thing you can do is speak with your money and move to a bank that doesn’t charge for anything! I have a great list of truly free checking accounts listed in my Resources Page.

  8. Kathy says

    I totally dislike Wells Fargo bank. I stay with them only because I don’t have the time or energy to get another business account. They totally frustrate me as I I also get the run around every time I call. I wish the CEO would go on line to try to resolve a problem. I have to say, I have had very few charges except this month I transferred money but in error took it out of the wrong account. BANG. $14.00 fee. I can get by that but I cannot get by the many transfers to get a simple question answered. Might have to find the time and energy to get my business a better more user friendly bank.

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