A Company With a History of Aggressive Tactics
This Time, it's the "Jewelry Advantage" Program
It's particularly frustrating for me personally, as this is not the first time I have had issues with Wells Fargo. 20 years ago, Wells was treating us badly - so badly that we had to go to court. And we won. it was very stressful for me, as I had never been in such a situation before.
I am getting married. We used their "Jewelry Advantage" service to buy two wedding bands. Jewelry Advantage gives the consumer no-interest payment plans, and standing in the jewelry store it all sounded so good. But this plan has built-in problems - with the end result that the payments run too long, and Wells then collects more interest than it should have. The barriers that are built in to the Wells systems, create a burden on the consumer.
1. BUILT-IN BARRIER RIGHT FROM THE START: We put in our Routing and Account number - after which, Wells takes control. They pull the payment; which ought to have triggered a payment the next business day, you would think - or at least sometime during the current billing period. How hard can it be, for a big bank like Wells Fargo, to do a payment?
But in fact, for Jewelry Advantage, IT TAKES UP TO TWO BILLING CYCLES just for the first payment to happen. Taking 2 billing cycles, makes no sense at all - unless you are designing it, from the start, to have the consumer be burdened with a late payment !!!
Keep in mind, once we put in the Routing & Account number, its out of our hands; Wells does the rest. Its up to them. Two billing cycles??!
This is an example of a predatory practice. The consumer is literally forced, by Wells Fargo, to be late on their very first payment. Government regulators need to take a look at this practice.
2. LACK OF DISCLOSURE: After pressuring them for an explanation, Wells finally admitted to us that it takes up to 2 full billing cycles for the first payment to happen. But Wells Fargo does not tell you this at the start, when you set up the account; you just don't know.
This is what you call a Lack of Disclosure. It is a very real problem and many banks have been faulted for this in the past. That is why we have banking laws in our country, to prevent abuse of consumers.
Lack of disclosure if a form of abuse; and it ends up costing consumers more money. Government regulators should also look at this.
3. INCOMPETENT CUSTOMER SERVICE: Despite the above behaviour of Wells Fargo, we did in fact notice the payments were not happening. We are conscientious; we made an effort, by calling Wells Fargo customer service. We explained the issues.
The Wells Fargo representative said they would fix it; but they did not.
And that is the focal point of our frustration. We made the right effort; we noticed the missing payment, we asked for help - and Wells lied to us.
We trusted Wells; we talked to a real person, and they said it was going to work out so the payments caught up and we would not run late. But the payments still ran over the no-interest period, and Wells charged us interest. Their entire system is obviously rigged for these things to happen.
The conclusions are obvious: Wells Fargo is incompetent, and cannot be trusted.
4. WELLS FARGO DOES NOT CARE ABOUT CONSUMERS: Once we saw that we were being charged interest, despite our best efforts, we raised the issue with Wells Fargo. We have talked to several people actually, including being referred to the 'Presidents Office'.
We posted on Twitter and on Facebook too. Wells responds, says they care - they say the words! - but no one actually helps us.
No one there cares.
5. RUDENESS: When my fiance attempted to explain the above issues, to the person this was escalated to, he refused to even let her tell our side. He said, to her face, that 'No conversation is possible' - because he had issued his ruling.
Yet he had issued that ruling, without talking to her first - meaning, he had incomplete information. Both my fiance and I called him several times, tried to explain and offered to explain in more detail if he would just call us back, but he never returned any of our phone calls. I don't normally name names online but this guy was rude - and once someone is rude, then all bets are off His name is Austin Reeves and he treated us badly. Not allowing my fiance to even tell her side, is just rude - and bad business too.
6. OTHER SOFTWARE BUGS IN JEWELRY ADVANTAGE: We have found some additional problems, beyond the slow payment issue, that are actual software bugs in the Jewelry Advantage program. These 'bugs' will - you guessed it! - also lead to the payments going over the free-interest period, and thus the consumer would again end up paying more interest than they were promised.
It may even be intentional. It's hard to tell but Wells Fargo may have purposely added these bugs. I have told at least 4 people at Wells Fargo we found these bugs but not one person asks us for any details. They just don't care. No curiosity; no interest in pushing for more quality in Wells products.
The main bug is how the payment amount is set. We are not allowed by the software to change the payment amount. That is a big problem. Since the 2nd ring we put on there cost more than the first ring, we need to have a bigger monthly payment - yet Wells Fargo software will not let us change the amount. So that means we once again go over the 6-months no-interest period.
Secondly, we have no way to see if we are on a 6-months or 12-months no-interest program. We need to know. In the store they said our 2nd ring was on a 12-months program. But since we cannot check it (which I consider a bug), it leaves us hanging. And since I no longer trust Wells Fargo, I have no doubt it's yet another way for Wells to trick people into going longer than the no-interest period.
Its very consistent, in all of these, that each issue ends up causing payments to take longer - so the consumer pays more interest. Wells Fargo is relentless, instead of caring - and it is the consumer that suffers.
Wells Fargo offered us a 6-months no-interest plan but then puts up a variety of barriers, that cause payments to take longer than 6 months. This is part of a wider issue where Wells does not care about the consumer.
Therefore, we are going to keep taking this to wider and wider audiences until Wells Fargo addresses all of the issues above. When I started this, all we wanted was our interest money returned; and we tried very hard to resolve this privately. Ironically, it's not even that much money. By treating us badly, it is now being opened up to a much wider audience, and I plan to also notify government regulators. Wells Fargo needs to fix these problems.
This current issue is just so unnecessary. But Wells did something much worse to our family, 20 years ago - that ended up in court. I took them to court - and WON. Wells was preying on an old woman in our family: freezing her assets so she could not pay her bills, her rent, or even buy food. It was an awful situation.
We won in court - but until now, the story story has never been told publicly. That is about to change - her story will be the subject of our next post. It will be a very interesting read because, unlike the above story in this blog, it involves considerably more money.