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I Need Dick Durbin to Reimburse Me For My $15 Wells Fargo Fee

By JLP | June 8, 2012

I was looking at my Wells Fargo account last night and noticed they charged me a $15 (yes, FIFTEEN DOLLARS!) account maintenance fee. I remember getting an email or notice about the new fees but wasn’t concerned because it seemed as though we met their ridiculous criterea necessary to avoid the fee.

I was wrong.

I emailed Wells Fargo and asked them why I was charged a $15 fee. I woke up this morning to this response (or part of it, anyway):

Thank you for contacting Wells Fargo. My name is Felicia, and it is my
pleasure to assist you today.

I understand your concerns about the service fee that was recently
assessed to your account.

The $15.00 monthly fee is waived on the Complete Advantage Checking
account when three or more additional consumer accounts and/or services
from separate account categories are linked to this account, and at
least one of the following conditions is met:

- At least $5,000.00 in combined deposit and select credit balances
(includes credit card balances)
- A $75.00 or more single monthly automatic transfer to a Wells Fargo
Savings account
- A linked Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

To determine whether this balance has been maintained, we look at the
lowest balance in the account during the statement cycle. Accounts
eligible for the combined balance waiver are checking, savings, time
accounts, retirement accounts, and/or outstanding balances in a personal
loan or line of credit, home equity loan, or equity line.

They went on to say that our account had dropped “slightly” below the minimum and that was why we were charged the fee. She did go on to say that she would reimburse the fee this time.

So, here are my options:

1. Meet the bank’s criteria on a monthly basis and not pay the fee. This idea is laughable because of the amount of money the bank requires we keep in our account and the very silly interest they pay (I believe our last interest payment on this account was $.09 (NINE CENTS)). Of course, no one else is paying interest so this is a moot point.

2. Pay the fee ($180 a year).

3. Change banks (Ugh! I hate this idea (and don’t think for a second that banks don’t know this)). We have a credit card, a checking account for us, a checking account for each of our boys (both teens), and three savings accounts with Wells Fargo—not to mention all the payments that are tied to our account. Besides, there’s no guarantee that whatever bank I switched to wouldn’t change their policies in the future.

4. Send in my account information so Dick Durbin can reimburse me. As far as I’m concerned, this is Durbin’s fault. He’s the one who insisted on the law that caps the swipe fees that banks can charge merchants. You take away a revenue stream from banks and they’ll figure out another way to make back that revenue.

We have been with Wells Fargo for a long time. I have never been disappointed with them. But, this $15 fee may change all that.

Topics: Banking | 26 Comments »


26 Responses to “I Need Dick Durbin to Reimburse Me For My $15 Wells Fargo Fee”

  1. Jon Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 10:39 am

    My banks don’t charge me anything. I use ING and a local credit union.

  2. anna Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    So – I prepend this with saying that I agree entirely that these fee structures are horrific, and the general technicalities of a system run by computers makes them even worse. However, as to your point (3), the nominal strength of the system is that you have power more or less *only* in your choice of with whom you do business. If you give up that power, and you claim that you want what you want from *whom* you want, your expectations seems too high. If you want something else, go somewhere else. If one store has prices you don’t like, you go to another store. Yes, the activation barrier here is higher – but the principle is the same. Vote with your dollars. My mainstream bank with whom I keep a checking account keeps asking me why I don’t have a savings account with them, and I continuously laugh in their face. Even with the current historically low interest rates, I can do about 10x better at a mix of my credit union/ING. Anyway, best luck!

  3. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Anna,

    As is usually the case, you make a good point. Actually, I’m trying to raise awareness of these fees in hopes that WF will change their ways. Enough bad publicity might have an effect.

  4. Jason Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Another option is to change the type of checking account you have. I recently changed from the complete advantage checking to the Way2Save checking. Everything is the same except I don’t get free cashier’s checks and the minimum balance is significantly lower.

  5. David Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 11:55 am

    I was hit with a similar charge from Wells Fargo when they changed the rules. I called them up, complained, got the fee waived, and changed my account from “complete advantage” to another (“way2save”? “value”? I forget) which had no such fees. In fact, now I have a lower minimum altogether.

    I, too, use other banks for certain things, but I keep the WF account(s) for several reasons – excellent, in-person customer service, a business savings account, etc. I’d hate to give them up, but you’re right – you have to be vigilant regarding fees.

    Then again, *something* has to pay for the nice local building and friendly local staff’s salaries…

  6. Eugene Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    100% agree with Anna. You’re the customer. If you don’t like the way the business is treating you, move to another business. There _are_ options. Several years ago, I left Wells Fargo after 15 years myself due to the lousy interest rates and nickel-diming on fees. It was simply not worth it. I’ve been with ING since, and am happier (and richer) for my choice.

    My experience came before Durbin’s bill passed, by the way, so I don’t see it being particularly constructive that you’re blaming Durbin for your own problems (choosing and sticking with a bank that cares less about its customers than its bottom line).

  7. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Eugene,

    I did not have the problem until the Durbin Amendment. So, I’m blaming Durbin.

  8. Squeezer @Personal Finance Success Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    My bank started charging fees, so I switched to a fee-free credit union.

  9. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    From Thomas Sowell:

    Economics is more than just a way to see patterns or to unravel puzzling anomalies. Its fundamental concern is with the material standard of living of society as a whole and how that is affected by particular decisions made by individuals and institutions. One of the ways of doing this is to look at economic policies and economic systems in terms of the incentives they create, rather than simply the goals they pursue. This means that consequences matter more than intentions—and not just the immediate consequences, but also the longer run repercussions of decisions, policies, and institutions.

    In other words, Dick Durbin may have had great intentions but his intentions have consequences. So, he makes this rule and then when banks look for ways to replace the billions in lost revenues, he criticizes them.

    I don’t mean to pick on Dick Durbin but he owns this one.

  10. Retiredat40 Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Ha, ha. “Isn’t this partly your fault?” I believe that’s what you asked me concerning my bogus Wells Fargo fees. Sucker.

    At least they gave your money back. That ain’t easy with those shysters.

  11. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Yes. It is. I never said it wasn’t. BUT…this would not be an issue were it not for Durbin and his idiotic Amendment.

  12. Retiredat40 Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    You keep telling yourself that. They are desperate for money because they are insolvent. They are engaging in fraudulent accounting and feeing people as much as possible.

    As someone that has dealt with Wells Fargo extensively, I can tell you that the company is rotten from the head down. To anyone smart enough to listen: GET YOUR MONEY OUT OF WELLS FARGO or you will be sorry. They are crooked.

    Forget about the Wells Fargo of the past. Those days are gone. This one is struggling to survive and they are trying to get money however they can. And once they get it, you will be lucky to get it back.

  13. BG Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Don’t blame Dick Durbin when there are plenty of banks that do NOT charge these fees. If every bank started charging these fees, then the blame would be warranted.

    Retired@40) No point in a bank run since FDIC insurance was created to specifically prevent those Great Depression era events.

  14. Retiredat40 Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    You will get your money back. You will just lose a lot of it to fees. If you want pay fees and fight them for them, more power to you.

  15. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    BG, If one bank does it and gets away with it, they’ll all follow. Trust me. It’ll happen.

  16. BG Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    JLP) Bank Of America tried this too, and there was such a huge backlash that the bank decided it wasn’t worth it.

    You are doing the right thing by publishing this, hopefully you will get enough momentum to get Wells to change their policy.

  17. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    Retired,

    Do you have proof that WF is insolvent? They seemed to be one of the few banks that came through the crisis in fairly good shape.

  18. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Retired,

    You can even write a guest post for AFM if you’d like.

  19. Retiredat40 Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    My Wells Fargo Must Die site has numerous references to Wells Fargo’s insolvency and financial accounting issues. If someone can’t figure it out from there, they are a pretty hopeless case or possibly a Wells Fargo employee.

  20. JLP Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    So you don’t think Bank of America should die too?

  21. Retiredat40 Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Yes, I do. But they have given me almost $1000 instead of ripping me off.

  22. Retiredat40 Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I will say this about B of A. If you close an account with them, they do not charge your zero balance account repeatedly just because it has been written into their customer agreement that they can. They just close your account and that’s it.

  23. BG Says:
    June 8th, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Retired) You need to write a rant against WF and take JLPs offer of publishing it here. I love reading a good rant!

  24. Valkyrie Frost Says:
    June 9th, 2012 at 4:32 am

    As you can see, the $15 fee is not really that much money. The point of the fee is to give the customer (that’s JLP in this case) an incentive to keep well over $5K in the bank at 0% interest. The consequence of this incentive at WF is that some customers will leave and others will deposit more money.

    When banks exist solely for the benefit of their own bottom line, then they no longer provide society with the crucial function of banking. As such, they become parasites to society instead of producers. Yet, only when enough customers balk will the bank executives “listen.”

    I’ve been happily using a local credit union for 12 years. You only true voice with a bank is your money; always has been!

  25. BG Says:
    June 9th, 2012 at 7:43 am

    JLP) If It were me, I’d setup an automatic $75 monthly transfer from checking to savings, as the email suggested. Then automatically transfer that money back out after a few days. That should avoid the minimum balance problem.

  26. Sun Says:
    June 12th, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    No one owes you anything… you are blaming Durbin for your lack of planning. It has been months since Wells Fargo communicated their options to you. My wife and I switched from Advantage to a different checking type MONTHS ago where the only requirement is $75 from checking to savings each month.

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