After a person’s doctor and lawyer, the next most sacred relationship one has in secular life is with a bank. Banks are entrusted with what We the People use as currency, and, at this point in life, are set up as the payment system for almost all expenses.
In other words, customers have to be able to trust their banks.
That is the problem Wells Fargo, one of the nation’s oldest businesses let alone banks, faces after a “glitch” double charged customers for their monthly expenses, thus zeroing out and overdrawing accounts and causing mass panic as their customers scrambled to cover the overages.
Cindy Alexander, a singer-songwriter in Los Angeles, said she had just picked her kids up from school on Wednesday afternoon when an alert popped up on her phone saying her account had been overdrawn by $800.
“I started transferring money out of my children’s savings account to cover it,” she told CNNMoney.
Alexander, a Wells Fargo customer for 30 years, said she waited on hold for 90 minutes and was frustrated by the bank’s initial silence on social media. She vowed to leave Wells Fargo immediately because of the glitch, “random fees” she’s been hit with over the years, and the company’s other recent scandals.
“The money is back, but I’m done with them,” Alexander said. “There’s enough stress in life financially. To have your bank make it harder is inexcusable.”
Inexcusable is right. How a computer “glitch” could have done so much damage is a mystery that computer programmers everywhere really do need to figure out because it really should never be allowed to happen again.
At this point, Wells Fargo is still in damage control mode, but customer accounts have been restored. This is just one more item to add to the pile at the bank that’s had a pretty rough year.
Wells Fargo has admitted that its workers responded to wildly unrealistic sales goals by creating 3.5 million potentially fake accounts. The bank has also said it forced up to 570,000 customers into unneeded auto insurance.
Wells Fargo has repeatedly apologized. It has also replaced its controversial sales goals and installed new management.
Even though Wells Fargo is among the biggest winners from the federal tax overhaul, the bank announced plans last week to close 800 more branches by 2020. Analysts say the branch shutdowns are an effort to cut costs as the bank faces surging legal expenses.
Wells Fargo said closing branches is a logical response to Americans’ increasing preference for online and mobile banking.
And when it comes to customer preferences, there are a lot of alternatives to a big bank like Wells Fargo.
The old lady may see more rough times dead ahead if management doesn’t get a handle on all of this.