Wells Fargo takes your money

If it had just been happening to us, I’d say it could be attributed to poor bookkeeping. But several Wells Fargo customers I’ve talked to recently have told me the same thing — they’ve started holding deposits for several days, often as long as a week, waiting until you have enough charges to overdraw your previous balance so they can charge you $34 overdraft fees.

For example, let’s say on Monday, you have $200 in your account, but then you deposit $500 that afternoon. They’ll wait until after $200 worth of checks have gone through, charge you the $34 overdraft fee, and THEN let the $500 go into your account.

I used to always make my deposits in person until a teller recommended using the ATM. When you deposit in person, she said, it can take several days for the money to show up in your account. When you deposit at an ATM, it goes in immediately.

That’s clearly not the case anymore. What is also no longer the case is that you have until 5pm to bring your account positive.

My wife and I both have individual accounts and then we share a joint account. Both of us just use our individual accounts for little things. For example, I use mine mainly for comic books and trips to McDonald’s. When we set up our joint account, our banker made it very clear to us that we could monitor our personal accounts online, and if we ever saw an account slip under zero, as long as we caught it that same day, we could transfer funds from our joint account (where our paychecks go, for example) before 5pm and all would be well.

That too is clearly no longer the case. We’ve now discovered that, even though these fund transfer transactions occur entirely within Wells Fargo’s online computer system, they too are now held in “pending” status for several days. And forget that 5pm rule.

I went into one of the locations to complain about things that were happening to my account. By my records, I had always maintained a positive balance in my account, yet through Wells Fargo’s tricky timing, they were able to pull out five separate $34 overdraft charges for an account that my personal records had shown was never overdrawn.

I recently had a situation in which I had a deposit for $250 go in on a Thursday afternoon. It was said to be “pending.” I also made three purchases that day. The transactions exceeded the amount that had been in my account before the deposit, but they did not exceed the amount that showed on my available balance through Wells Fargo’s online banking.

So what happened? Well, they let the charges go through, but then they credited me for the deposit. When I checked my balance on Friday, I showed that I was still positive $50. So that afternoon, I bought lunch and got gas, which totaled about $20.

Well here’s where it got fun. Since they don’t apply their overdraft charges until the next day, they hit me for three $34 overdraft fees, which they applied back in time to Thursday’s transactions. I’m sure you can see where this is going — by applying this $102 to Thursday’s business, all of a sudden I was overdrawn all Friday long, even though my personal records and Wells Fargo’s online banking showed that I had been positive the whole time.

So, since according to their records, I was overdrawn all Friday, I got hit with two more $34 overdraft fees for those two purchases that didn’t total more than $20, which I again made while Wells Fargo showed I had an available balance exceeding $50.

This is just one example of how they’ve screwed us over. My wife recently made a $900 deposit to our account on a Friday and I made a separate $500 to my personal account, and in addition to the money that was already in our accounts, she felt it was safe to make a $250 car payment considering we had more than $2000 in our accounts.

So what did Wells Fargo do? They held her $900 deposit in the joint account for five days. When we saw that money wasn’t being released, I tried to transfer money to her account to cover it. They held that transfer — which again takes place through their computer system — as pending, just long enough so that there wasn’t money in the account. More than $2000 in the accounts, and she got hit with a $34 overdraft fee because they literally stopped the money from going to where it needed to be.

I don’t know if this is a Wells Fargo money making scheme, but they’ve taken several hundreds of dollars from us in the past few weeks in overdraft fees. The banker I spoke to snottily said to me, “Well if you just kept track of your spending in a register, you wouldn’t have this problem.”

That is completely, 100% not true. Keeping track of it in a register would show that we have stayed in the black. My checkbook register doesn’t have a way to log the manipulation of the timing of releases of funds and holding in-house money transfers that were sold to the customers as being instantaneous. That has been the key to Wells Fargo taking more than $500 from us over the past few weeks, $34 at a time.

My wife went in to contest the latest fee, when we had more than enough money to cover the car payment, they just wouldn’t clear the deposit nor would they clear in-house transfered money.

The clerk waived the $34 as a “courtesy,” but insisted that the bank did nothing wrong. This clerk told my wife that even if she keeps track of her withdrawals and deposits in her register, she needs to monitor her online account. This is in direct opposition to what a clerk told me a few days ago — that online banking can be wrong and outdated and the bank is not responsible for any erroneous or misleading information, because ultimately you need to keep a register and rely on that.

The woman also told my wife that each individual branch has different policies when it comes to how long they will hold a check and when they will apply fees, deposits and withdrawals.

My wife asked “Is there some kind of a guide so that customers know when they can use the money they’ve deposited with you?”

The lady laughed, as if the question were a joke.

3 Responses to “Wells Fargo takes your money”

  1. Ryan Says:

    This sort of stuff really pisses me off about banks. I’m at a credit union. If I deposit in person the money is automatically credited in my account and I am fortunate that they have a program to pull any overdrafts from other accounts and only charge a 3 dollar fee, I’m ok with that. But for me, if I deposit in the ATM it takes several days before it becomes available.


  2. j Says:

    If you continue to bank with them, you’re a sucker.
    I hope you contested every single one of those fees.
    This isn;t the first time I’ve heard of Wells Fargo doing shady stuff like this.

  3. cheeksofgod.com » More on Wells Fargo! Says:

    […] wrote a while back about the problems we were having with how Wells Fargo chose to use our money. Well today, we got a […]

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