Can I Survive The Wells Fargo Takeover Of Wachovia With My Account Terms Intact?

Keith has had the same bank account for eight years, but during that time “his” bank has been four different banks thanks to mergers. Ameribank became First Union, which became Wachovia, which in turn was gobbled by Wells Fargo. That’s just how the history of American banking has worked: what’s the big deal? For the first time in all of these mergers, additional fees will be imposed on Keith’s account. He wants to keep things the way they’ve been for the last eight years, and Wells Fargo wants to move on. Well, it wants to move on to taking more money out of Keith’s wallet.

Wells Fargo sent letters, and brochures galore informing us that the
merger with Wachovia was no big deal, and killed even more trees with
large pamphlets explaining the terms of our “new”/old accounts. Now
that Wells Fargo has fully integrated us Wachovia customers they are
trying to now change our terms of account to add additional fees like
they do with all the other accounts they offer.

I feel a little betrayed at this reversal of what was promised. I
tried to call them at their customer service number and speak to
someone to air my grievances, however the CSR couldn’t care less and
parroted the line “Change is inevitable”. He refused to transfer me to
a supervisor, or have anyone call me back to discuss my concerns. He
suggested I go into a bank branch to talk about it. I advised him with
my work hours that was not possible as they open and close while I’m
already at work.

Do I have any recourse to get them to keep me on my grandfathered
account without these new changes?

If at all possible, try to speak with someone in person at the branch. If visiting on your lunch hour isn’t possible, obtain a phone number and see whether you can deal with someone local over the phone during a break from work. Someone who lives in your community and is invested in keeping customers around is always preferable to a powerless, faceless customer service drone.

We know that there are a lot of former Wachovia customers out there in the Consumerist Hive Mind. Did you manage keep your old account terms? How did you do it?

Comments

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  1. Emerson says:

    I have been screwed too many times by Wachovia. I closed my accounts right when they were merging our state into their system. I refuse to have anything to do with Wachovia or Wells Fargo. I would explain the stories behind my hate, but there is not enough space or time.

    Also, I love my credit union!!!

    • TMPinSYR says:

      I have to second Emerson’s support for their credit union. I also switched from a (for-profit) bank a few years ago after a number of mergers to a local credit union. As a non-profit owned by its members, I feel the credit union is a much better choice for my banking needs. The OP should consider checking out any CU’s in the area- they may be surprised by the benefits to joining one!

    • longdvsn says:

      I’m closing my Wells Fargo (previously Wachovia) by the end of this week.

      I had a free student account without maintenance fees (at Wachovia). When the merger happened, they sent me a letter saying that my account was being converted to a different one in the Wells Fargo system that also didn’t have maintenance fees. Then, just a couple months later – BAM – $2000 balance or direct deposit required or you get $15/mo maintenence charge.

      I have direct deposit…but I’d prefer to tell them off and take my business elsewhere on principle. Just had to wait for my last bill pays to clear.

    • I look at both sides of the story says:

      I got free checking for life with my house mortgage. Bank got gobbled up by Wachovia who imposed new fees. I explained that I was promised free checking for life. Wachovia re-implemented the free checking.

      Now Wells-Fargo took over Wachovia and I too received the letter stating that checking isn’t free.
      I haven’t gone into WF to argue the case yet mainly because I receive free checking anyway due to direct deposit, but it’s the principle. I’m tired of banks gobbling up banks and imposing new fees.

      Oh, credit unions aren’t necessarily great either. I had one and I could rarely get a loan out of them despite stellar credit (I’m 800+). Never had a problem getting loans with a real bank.

  2. Blueskylaw says:

    “Can I Survive The Wells Fargo Takeover Of Wachovia With My Account Terms Intact?”

    No. The whole point of a merger is not for your benefit or “synergy” or to save you money, it is strictly to quash the competition, become larger, and charge more fees due to less choices.
    Remember:

    Less competition=less choices=more fees

    This is the only known example in the physical world where two lesses equals a more.

  3. CrazyEyed says:

    Simple solution: Switch Banks. You’ve were forced 3 times before. This time you get to choose. Do a little research and never look back.

  4. Red_Eye says:

    Why bother? Head over to a credit union and get banking that works for its members, not some guy pulling down 17M a year. (source: http://www.equilar.com/ceo-compensation/2011/wells_fargo_john_g._stumpf.php )

  5. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    Start researching local banks and/or credit unions in your area, and find one that meets your needs. Fees will vary greatly. Then choose a new bank.

    Talk to your boss, tell him what you need to do, and ask if you can take time off during the day to take care of your banking issues, and offer to make up the time by coming in early or staying late on other days. Hopefully he/she will be reasonable.

  6. byroan says:

    You won’t have any more luck in a store either (WF calls them stores and not branches). The only thing the employees care about are getting solutions. They’ll talk to you for a few minutes and then bring a worksheet out and try to get you to open more accounts, or switch insurance companies. Wells Fargo is the worst bank to have accounts at.

    Do yourself a favor and switch banks. Either go to a credit union, or an online bank.

  7. Derigiberble says:

    I closed my account after Wells Fargo took over Wachovia and added a bunch of new fees and eliminated a ton of benefits. Additionally (as the OP has noticed) their customer support became horrid and rather condescending.

    There’s no way around it. At most they will waive a fee once or twice but your account terms have already changed and Wells Fargo doesn’t care if you’ve had the account for 8 years or not; they only care about how much money they can extract from you now. If you don’t want to deal with that, switch banks to a credit union.

    • George4478 says:

      Same here. I’ve mentioned this before here, but I was a Wachovia Crown account (Keep a combined $4000 balance across your accounts, get lots of benefits) that saw fee after fee added to the account after the Wells Fargo takeover. The monthly $7 download-to-Quicken fee was the final straw.

      Like I told the branch manager when I closed the 2 accounts, I paid more in fees the last two months than I’d paid in the rest of the 25-year account history.

  8. Marlin says:

    No, me and my wifed closed our Wachovia/WF accounts and went to a Credit Union.

    Better rates and no fees.

  9. Dre' says:

    Join a credit union & dump Wells Fargo like I finally did.

  10. Shorebreak says:

    Why in the world even bother with one of these too big to fail banks (TBTF) that will fee you to death? Immediately close the account and move to a local bank or credit union that treats you like a valued customer.

  11. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Just find a store location and close out your account. You’ve already gotten a taste of their customer service. It’s not worth the hassle. Get them out of your life as early as possible before they ruin your life.

    To avoid the hassle of being convinced that you need to stay, just keep repeating “I want to close my account(s).”

    • George4478 says:

      I have to give WF credit: when I closed my two 25-year old accounts the manager asked me if they had done something to upset me, given the age of the accounts. I explained that I was unhappy with the excessive number of new fees. She said she understood and that was it. She closed the accounts without any issues.

      I had been expecting a dragging of feet or persuasion tactics. Instead, I got good customer service — go figure.

      • Willow16 says:

        I closed our Wachovia account right before they became Wells Fargo and the manager who I worked with understood my concerns and didn’t even try to convince me to stay. We moved everything to USAA. The only thing I have left at that branch is a safety deposit box that costs $55/year and I’ll be moving that as soon as our term is up since the same size box costs $25/year at a local bank down the street.

    • bbb111 says:

      “just keep repeating “I want to close my account(s).””

      Good advice. When they try for the save by changing the topic, bring it back with the phrase “can you change ……? If not, nothing else matters so …”

      As for Credit Unions – shop around. I checked out five on-line, visited three and only found one that had good terms and competent people. Some had surprising fees/restrictions. Some had staff that could only recite scripts to answer questions and didn’t actually understand cashflow and cash strategy.

      I know one person who beat the new fees after a bank acquisition by having the decades old paperwork from when the account was opened that stated “free forever.”

  12. ChairmanMeow says:

    Amazingly, I have been able to keep my account terms from Wachovia with Wells Fargo. However, I can smell blood in the water.

    I do have one question for all you credit union people. The one in my area required direct deposit (1/month) to avoid fees. I was totally ready to do this, but was downsized from my job which offered DD. My new job does not offer it.

    Why are financial institutions so obsessed with direct deposit?

    • longdvsn says:

      Good luck on keeping your account terms. Mine didn’t take long to change. My WF account is getting closed later this week. I don’t have a Credit Union, but Ally bank and even some local banks still have free checking without crazy requirements.

      Institutions like direct deposit because it costs less to process than a check does (no need for tellers, other handlers of the check, etc.) and there aren’t many worries about it being fraudulent (bad check).
      It also probably means you’ll keep more money in your accounts for longer. Instead of going to the bank Friday afternoon to deposit a check and getting $200 cash back immediately…it’s automatically deposited and maybe you don’t visit the ATM until next Tuesday and maybe only take out $40 at a time at the ATM.

    • EarlNowak says:

      There are probably multiple CUs in your area. Look for one that offers free checking. I’m close to a big army base, so there are several that cater to military personnel (you can join as a civilian if you live in the area).

      http://www.asmarterchoice.org/

      http://culookup.com/

      http://www.creditunion.coop/

      http://www.nerdwallet.com/credit-union/

      Community banks are an option too, but the problem is they tend to get bought up by big banks. In my area, Capital One, Red River Bank and Woodforest all offer free checking with no minimum or a $100 minimum.

      Banks love DD because it’s guaranteed cash flow without the worry of a chargeback.

    • peakcomm says:

      To a financial institution, Direct Deposit means income that is predictable, routine and processed at absolute minimal cost. Cashing or depositing a paycheck at a teller window takes staff time, a costly resource. Even an ATM must be serviced regularly, which means a human must be paid. Direct Deposits come in electronically and are processed automatically. No muss, no fuss, no human error, and cost/transaction is fractions of a penny.

      The requirement for DD is a simple exchange — you promise to cost them less, so they promise to charge you less.

  13. oldwiz65 says:

    Find a new bank. Once your bank is gobbled up, it is normal for you to have to pay new fees and find new restrictions. Once the big bank gobbles up a smaller one, they assume the newly acquired people are happy to have been moved to a “better” bank and won’t mind the new fees, new requirements, etc. I used to bank at a wonderful local bank, great service, no fees on the checking account (did have to keep a minimum balance though). They got gobbled up by the Canadian TD BankNorth, and the entire staff of the local branch was fired, there were suddenly fees on the account, and they even refused to let me order new checks to have the right bank name/routing number on it. I left them and wrote them a letter about it.

  14. Costner says:

    It might help to know what additional fees they are attempting to add. Are they fees that will really impact the OP, or are they more along the line of “if you transfer money to Pakistan there is a $10 fee” which would likely never impact him?

    The truth is Wachovia was struggling and was about to go under, so clearly their pricing model was unsustainable. They made a TON of mistakes and were not well managed. Wells Fargo swooped in and gobbled them up, but I doubt they could keep doing things they way Wachovia was doing things… so yes some account terms would need to change.

    Of course a customer doesn’t have to accept the account terms – they can switch banks. That is what makes our nation great… we have choices. For some people a credit union might be a good fit, although for me that isn’t an option since the credit unions in my area don’t have rates or fee schedules any better than my megabank. My bank also offers apps where I can take a picture of a check to deposit it, I can do everything I need to via my phone or an iPad, and the only time I even get near a bank is when I pull up to the ATM. Sadly, no credit union in my area even comes close… plus I don’t pay any fees so I don’t have much room to complain.

    Each situation is unique, but find what works for you and go with it. This really isn’t that hard… but you can’t expect a bank to grandfather your terms in because that would require custom account disclosure forms and it would be a nightmare to manage. I can’t really blame them for not allowing you to keep your old account or fee structure.

  15. MaryE says:

    WF tried to stick me with a stop payment fee after the merger but I called them and it was waived.

  16. henwy says:

    I really don’t understand complaints like the OPs. He claims he got reams of documents after the merger but I can only assume he didn’t read any of them. Mine said that accounts wouldn’t change for at least a year after the merger. Considering it’s now been 3 years, it should have been enough notice.

  17. Hi_Hello says:

    do you really want to stay with a bank where you can’t even walk into the branch?

    “was not possible as they open and close while I’m already at work.”

    12 years, closed it when they sent me a letter saying i have two month before the new fees kicked it. I closed it a head of time to make sure not weird happens with my account after they are closed.

  18. speaky2k says:

    I have had what is now a WF account for over 30 years. It started with a small savings & loan (remember when the S&L scandal happened?) and got merged & bought out so many times I don’t have any idea who I was with some times. My accounts had no issues when converting over since I had more than the minimum in each account and more than the minimum in combined accounts. Recently I closed one account when a CD was due and converted it and the CD to a special account which has a good interest rate if you keep a certain value in it, and has a low minimum for that account (but you don’t get that rate then). That special account value is higher than the combined minimum so at this time I shouldn’t have any issues with the fees. And I did notice the changes to the fees, but I still never got hit since I had enough in my accounts (thankfully).

  19. amuro98 says:

    Had a mortgage with Wachovia.

    Say what you will, at least Wachovia’s website let me pay my mortgage after 5pm PST.

    When Wells finally transferred my mortgage to their website, for some reason, after 5pm, my account – and anyone else who had a Wachovia mortgage – will get odd web errors. Customer support doesn’t know what’s going on. The technical folks (e.g. the developers) know about the problem but don’t know how to fix it.

    At least Wells has left my wacky Wachovia loan terms alone for now…

    Hopefully the refi will go through and it’ll be bye-bye Wells/Wachovia.

  20. NorthAlabama says:

    i left wells fargo/wachovia last week for just this reason.

    after playing the “switch your account type to avoid fees” game ever 4 months or so, i just received an email that disclosed more fees to my account starting in august.

    not that the banks shouldn’t be profitable, but i’m a low maintenance, online customer, who rarely writes checks or uses a teller, or even an atm for that matter.

    yet, they seem to be able to afford chopping a tree down to mail me a 1000 page fine print disclosure document twice a year. no wonder they are going broke. didn’t they realize i opted IN for electronic statements??? bye bye…

  21. LastError says:

    First I was a customer of First Union, and Wachovia came and I said nothing because I was treated OK, and then Wells Fargo came, and I got the hell out of Dodge.

    WF used to manage a 401(K) where I worked and it was like dealing with cavemen scratching out math in a pile of sand. It was maddening and frustrating and stupid and those were not things I wanted for banking, too. I was really really hoping the corrupt Santander would buy up Wachovia because THEY at least know how to sort of run a bank.

    But no, it was WF. So I packed up my account and left for a credit union. Never regretted it.