Wells Fargo pissed off the wrong customer.
Earlier this week, Richard X. 'Dick' Bove, a well-known banking analyst, blasted the bank in a research note entitled "Does Service Mean Anything?"
According to Bove, 71, Wells Fargo royally botched his personal account, charging him mystery fees, bungling his mortgage refinance application and basically blowing him off on the customer service front.
Bove, who had been a Wachovia customer for around 10 years before Wells Fargo took over, said the changes at the Tampa, Fla., branch where he had been banking were considerable. Gone was the greeter at the door, for example. In place of a friendly 'Hello' were sales desks.
He recounts one occasion when he visited his branch to speak with a personal banker but was left waiting in limbo. "The bank officer made me wait a bit; came out of his office and entered a public bathroom; and then left the bank," Bove recounted in his note. "Nothing was solved for me on that visit."
Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia in 2008, and former Wachovia locations in Florida were fully rebranded by July 2011, according to Wells Fargo. Bove said all his experiences took place at the same location on North Florida Avenue in Tampa.
In his note, he assaults Wells Fargo for paying far more attention to profits than people. He concludes that customer service -- the kind of customer service that involves developing a relationship over time -- might actually hurt the bank's business strategy.
"What my Wells Fargo experience suggests is that a succesful bank is one that keeps seeking new customers and selling them more products and not getting bogged down by offering service," he wrote in his note on July 23. Bove said he has since moved his personal bank account to JPMorgan Chase, although he told The Huffington Post his mortgage and several other business accounts are still active with the bank.
Wells Fargo did not comment directly on Bove's note when contacted by HuffPost.
"We...recognize that we're only as good as our last interaction and we remain committed to putting our customers at the center of everything we do," Mary Eshet, a senior spokeswoman for the bank, said in an emailed statement.
Bove's comments come as the disconnect between banks' business strategy and customer experience continues to be an issue for Americans. The banking analyst is not alone in feeling abandoned by bank customer service. A survey released Tuesday from Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, reported that nearly one-fifth of all consumers said they considered switching banks in the last year. The survey participants, like Bove, cited high fees and bad customer service.
However, actually moving from one bank to another is a complicated process. More than half of the people who said they wanted to switch banks in the survey, said the reason they didn't complete the process was because of difficulty in transferring automatic payments. The survey included 1,157 adults and took place in May 2012.
Consumers Union is calling on Congress and the year-old Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to consider reforms that would make it easier for consumers to switch banks.
Suzanne Martindale, staff attorney for Consumers Union, said more consumers want to move their money but feel frustrated at the process.
“Moving your money takes a lot of time and money and some bank policies make it harder than it should be," she said in a statement released with the poll results. "We need to make it easier for consumers to switch banks so they have a real choice when it comes to where to keep their money.”
Bove is known for his independent voice, which has occasionally gotten him into trouble, as The New York Times pointed out in a 2010 story detailing a lawsuit he faced over some of his analysis.
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