Due to one of the (many!) online security breaches, my Simple bank account numbers became compromised and required me to close-and-reopen my bank account. (Why can’t account numbers be re-generated on-demand?) During the process of closing, and re-opening my Simple account, I opened a backup Wells Fargo account.
I was able to set up my account by walking into an impressive, original Wells Fargo branch building. About sixty minutes later, I was all set up. This was not my first Wells Fargo account. As a child, I opened a savings account with First Union. First Union merged into Wachovia, which merged into Wells Fargo during the recent financial crisis.
However, as a “new customer” Wells Fargo did not have historical purchasing data for me. The bank was terribly nervous letting me spend my money. Instead, quietly block my debit card and let me find out when I tried to buy something next.
Wells isn’t the only bank that proactively deactivates customers cards when they suspect fraud. Anyone can get their card blocked. Just buy two tanks of gas and some shoes. Most financial institutions have evolved to text customers the minute the anti-fraud algorithms raise a flag.
For Wells Fargo customs, you should receive receive a text message or call to confirm your recent purchases. Unfortunately for me, these alerts never came through. Instead, when I swiped, and my purchase was declined, I called the number on the back of your card. Which goes something like this:
Calling is a last-result option. Relied on only when online options for managing my account have been exhausted. If I use a secret trap-door word like ‘agent,’ ‘representative,’ or ‘operator,’ I mean business.
Wells Fargo is always experiencing a huge cal volume, no matter what time of day, day of the week, or financial shitstorm is currently happening.
Companies who state that they are experiencing a higher than usual call volume are unconsciously expressing two things. First, that their products or services are unreliable, confusing, or in some state that requires their customer to regularly call in. And two, that they are chronically understaffed.
Wells Fargo makes an embarrassing, nerve-wracking experience worse by not informing anyone ahead of time that I’m calling about a declined card. They have blocked my card so often; I’m surprised their system doesn’t call to alert you (via text, email or phone call) when it happens. Many Wells Fargo bankers and phone reps have told me that I should receive alerts and ways to allow access without needing to call. Unfortunately, it has never happened.
Forcing customers to wade through 20 minutes hold times to make a purchase is criminal. If you can’t implement an automated system for clearing transactions, have a dedicated queue for those with blocked cards.
Wells Fargo is the largest bank in the world, and with it comes the expectations that they can proactively manage security and fraud concerns. IVR is just as important to design as your online banking experience. It’s another touchpoint, and should be considered carefully.