So better late than never, we have the background behind the mystery I alluded to a couple of weeks back regarding a dispute between me and a financial institution. While the situation was handled properly in the end, that won’t stop me from still ridiculing the two guys who did absolutely nothing to resolve matters for me — the Dumb and Dumber duo of Kyle and Darren: Customer Service representatives for Wells Fargo.
Kyle and Darren at the company Christmas Party
A little bit of background is in order here. My business dealings with Wells Fargo have been limited, but beneficial for both parties. In the process of remodeling my house, I’ve needed to replace furniture in several rooms along the way; in fact, my wife and I had utilized various hand-me-downs and donations from our families over the years, putting off the purchase of new furniture until after the remodeling was actually completed. A little more than a year ago, we had broken down and bought some badly-needed living room furniture to replace our worn-out, twenty-five year old set. We had found a beautiful set we liked at Rooms-To-Go, and what made the purchase and even easier decision to make was that the store was running a promotion at the time we were shopping — no interest and no payments for one year. Simply put, so long as we paid the furniture off before the promotional period expired, we’d have no interest to pay.
Since we were still allotting money to various other stages of renovation around the home, this option made plenty of sense, as it allowed us to get the furniture home immediately, while the plan was to pay in full for it several months later, when our finances would accommodate the large purchase better. And that was exactly what we did, as I made two large payments to zero out the balance two months before the promotional period had ended.
Our financing wasn’t actually with Rooms-To-Go, as it turned out — but with Wells Fargo, who I assume handles all of the financing for the furniture store’s customers. This didn’t present any sort of headache, as I was able to make my payments on line without any issues. So far, so good — right? Well it was — at least until the day I headed out to the mailbox and found a surprise waiting for me.
As it turns out, Wells Fargo had sent me a Visa card with a substantial limit attached to it. Not a offer for a credit line, but an actual pre-approved, ready-to-be-activated card in hand — all I needed to do was to call the number on the back and I was in business. Now I hadn’t actually requested this credit line, and I made a call to Wells Fargo to find out why the card had been shipped to me. It was explained then that the credit line had been given to me because of my excellent standing with Wells Fargo, and that I was under no obligation to activate the account; it was simply there for the taking if I wanted to take advantage of it.
While I wasn’t surprised by their explanation for my receiving it — after all, I did already show the ability to them to make a large purchase (the furniture) with no problem paying it back quickly — I didn’t feel the need to actually open the account. I already had lines of credit that I used, and I didn’t see the need to add another one to them.
Over time, however, I got extremely frustrated with some of the other lending institutions I had business dealings with. Readers of the site from the beginning probably remember my earlier frustrations regarding some shady practices involving APR’s and Bank of America and Chase; in those cases, my wife and I simply paid our balances in full and stopped using the accounts, choosing to opt out of the APR increases. While both accounts have remained open, we had been obviously hesitant to use them, a circumstance that made the idea of opening another account more attractive to me. When I got a second Visa card shipped in the mail to me — and after fielding multiple calls from Wells Fargo customer service representatives attempting to entice me into activating the account — I finally decided to go ahead and do so. I had discovered that the account was already showing up on my credit report anyway, as it turns out, so I had little reason to not take advantage of it at this point.
So a month or so back on a Friday, I went on-line and activated the account successfully. In an incredible coincidence, I got another call from a Wells Fargo representative who was inquiring to me about activating the account no less than five minutes later. She had been making a courtesy call to me, and after I told her I’d just activated the account minutes before, we both had a good laugh about her timing. She thanked me for doing so, we discussed the possibility of using Wells Fargo for the refinancing of my home (something my wife and I had been looking into doing, in order to take advantage of dropping rates), and we went on our ways. Later that day, I used the card for the first time, purchasing a new cell phone for my wife.
Here’s where the fun begins.
I told my wife a diamond-studded phone was going overboard, but she just wouldn't listen
On that Sunday — two days later — my wife attempted to make a purchase at Office Depot totaling under $15 — and she was declined. This completely befuddled us, as the total purchase cost of the phone and these office supplies was nowhere in the vicinity of the credit limit I’d been given on the account.
I made a call to the customer service number on the back of the card, but to no avail, as there was no human to answer questions at that time of day on a weekend. When I checked the account on-line, however, I did discover that the credit limit had been mysteriously lowered to $0. While this didn’t make any sense, I figured there had been some mix-up somewhere that I’d be able to easily fix the next morning.
Wrong. And this is where my real story begins, with a Wells Fargo customer service representative named Kyle.
When I called on Monday morning, Kyle was the first guy I talked to. After getting all of the appropriate information on me and my account, he casually informed me that my account had been closed due to inactivity. Incredulous, I informed Kyle that my account had just been opened on Friday, and that it had been used to make a purchase that same day. Inactive? Did not using it Saturday as well count as inactivity somehow?
Talking to this guy would have been more helpful
Kyle went on to tell me that there was nothing that he could do about the situation, and he tried to use as an explanation that the decision to close my account had been made sometime on Friday after I’d used it. When I told him that my purchase had been made late in the afternoon — past 5:00 Central time — and that it was practically impossible for any decision like that to be made after that time headed into a weekend — was I to believe that there were actually people in that capacity working then? — Kyle changed his story, now claiming that the decision had been made prior to my opening the account on Friday and actually using it.
With this reply, my next question, obviously, was in asking why Wells Fargo had actually allowed me to open the account in the first place if the decision was already in place to close it? And worse yet, if a decision had been made to close my account prior to Friday, why in God’s name was someone from Wells Fargo calling me on Friday to get me to open the account? How, I asked Kyle, did that make any sense? Realizing that his conflicting stories on the chain of events had out him in an impossible situation, Kyle began to dodge my questions entirely, instead repeating over and over that there was nothing he could do to assist me, and telling me that if I wanted to reapply for the credit line, he could do that with me over the phone.
Well, since I hadn’t necessarily even wanted the credit line to begin with, I wasn’t going through the hassle of reapplying for it — but it was a matter of principle for me at this point, and I certainly wanted some sort of explanation for the left-hand-doesn’t-know-what-the-right-hand-is-doing sort of business practices that Wells Fargo was apparently engaged in. So I politely thanked Kyle for — well, for absolutely doing nothing to help me — and got myself transferred to a supervisor — which is where Darren enters our tale.
After a lengthy delay on hold (where I assumed Darren was being filled in on the ludicrous chain of events so far), I got to go to round two of my battle with the ignorant customer service reps. I calmly explained the situation to Darren and told him I just wanted a few simple explanations to my questions:
1) Why were representatives of Wells Fargo calling me — persistently — to open an account if another group of representatives from the company were planning to close it??
2) Why, if the decision was already made to close my account, was I allowed to even open it in the first place after said decision was in place? And if that wasn’t the case, then how could an account open and used within 48 hours be “inactive”?
3) Why had the previous representative I talked to given me conflicting accounts of the decision time-line, and why had he refused to address or answer any of my questions about these conflicting decisions?
Darren’s answer to me? Basically, it was to go fuck myself.
Words for Darren to live by
He may have not said it in so many words, but throughout our conversation, the level of disdain he showed for having to deal with me over the phone, and the pompous attitude he carried throughout our discussion might as well have been the same thing. Darren also refused to address any of the inconsistent or baffling decision-making process that had apparently taken place — except to say that the pleasant young woman I had talked to on Friday (the one who’d called me to activate the account) was clearly an incompetent who didn’t have all of the information or the facts, and that she clearly hadn’t known what she was talking about (a key point to the eventual resolution, so don’t forget this).
Darren also offered no solutions other than allowing me to reapply for the account, and he took the opportunity to chide me for me being unrealistic about my demands, telling me “We are in the business of making money, you know.” I reminded him that, according to what I’ve seen every day in the financial sections, Wells Fargo hasn’t been doing too good of a job at that at all. Needless to say, Darren didn’t like that comment, nor did he like it when I reminded him that idiotic decision-making processes like this one were a large reason why banks like Wells Fargo have been taking a ton of taxpayer money to bail themselves out — and it made practices like this inexcusable. “Well, that’s your opinion,” was his curt response. “No — it’s pretty much everyone’s opinion,” was my answer to him.
I decided not to go over Darren’s head to his supervisor, but instead I tried another tactic: I called back the woman I had talked to on Friday — and boy, was I happy I did. As it turns out, she wasn’t an “incompetent who didn’t have all of the information or the facts” — but rather, she was the Assistant Branch Manager of the local Wells Fargo office. As it turns out, not only had she known what she was talking about, but she was absolutely appalled at the treatment I’d gotten from the two idiots I had talked to already — and she was not surprisingly pissed at having her “ignorance” as the cause for the whole problem. After getting the names and the employee identification numbers of Kyle and Darren from me, she assured me she’d get to the bottom of the problem promptly.
The good news out of all of this? The local Wells Fargo rep turned out to be the hero of the piece, reactivating the account for me with the full credit line and apologizing for the behavior of the two morons I had to deal with. While I never got a complete explanation as to why the misunderstanding had occurred, she agreed with me that Kyle and Darren had handled it completely incorrectly — and that she had reported their actions to the proper people so that it would hopefully never happen again. My business relationship with Wells Fargo was salvaged thanks to her going the extra mile, and while the whole scenario could have ended with me bad-mouthing Wells Fargo to anyone who’d listen, I now can say I’m fine with the way the whole situation was handled in the end.
The moral of the story? When you’re faced with an idiotic situation by a company you’re dealing with, if you have a valid point to contest, then someone with the company should be willing to help you — you just have to find the right person. Think of the most of the first couple of levels of customer service reps as being the pawns on a chessboard — they’re not really powerful pieces, and they can be sacrificed to achieve the ultimate goal if necessary. You need to get to king and the queen if you want to get some results, which will probably result in you spending a lot of wasted time on the phone wading through those people who will be completely unhelpful — but the results will be well worth it, as I can attest.
But what about Kyle and Darren? I don’t know how much trouble they actually got into, and I frankly don’t care — I wasn’t looking to get anyone in hot water, but it was their actions that would have been responsible for that, and nothing I did. While neither of them is likely ever going to be competent enough to be eligible for an Employee of the Month award, they do have this week’s Ro-Sham-Bo Award to split. And I promise, guys — I won’t rescind it in a couple of days either, no matter what anyone else says.