It’s Saturday, and I am on hold for Wells Fargo for 8 minutes. I finally hang up and dial back in. Then I am on hold again until they transfer me to the business side of the bank. Then I am on hold until I get a banker to answer.
Why did I call?
I have had a business line of credit at what is now Wells Fargo for twenty or more years. I am considered a high value customer. But this month I got charges on my statement for $150 fee for having the account and $38.46 in credit protection that I didn’t buy. That’s almost $200.
When I borrow from that line of credit, I pay 9% interest when prime is close to zero. When I opened the line, it was at 2% over prime. Shouldn’t that be enough money they make on me? Do they have to add fees? It’s insult to injury.
How can this possibly be fair to entrepreneurs and small businesses? Fortunately, I’ve been in business long enough to understand what USED to be.
What used to be: I had a $50,000 revolving business line. It was variable at 2% over prime. That was fair, because it gave the bank a spread. I understood that bigger businesses got 1% over prime, or Libor, or whatever, but I was satisfied with my little line, because it allowed me to do what I needed to do.
Oh, and it took me a decade of being continuously in business before I got it, so I had to prove myself. It wasn’t a handshake. It was given to me as a prize by a local business bank. That bank, which we will call Bank A, was later acquired by Bank B, and they both rolled up into bank C and later to Wells Fargo. I just allowed inertia to carry me along, especially since at the time Wells was in the forefront of online banking.
I used the line make payroll and buy equipment when my receivables collections were slow. In 2008, that line was mysteriously cut from $50,000 to $20,000, although I was never late.
However, optimist that I am, I considered myself lucky, because the line was never called in its entirety. Many of my larger colleagues had that happen, and were put out of business.
Fast forward to the present.
The third call’s a charm, of a sort. A nice man waives the fee, but he can’t waive the credit protection, which he now sees has been on my account since 2010, the furthest back he can see, despite the fact that I never signed up for it.
While I am on hold, I’m typing my blog post. When I finish it, I will tweet it, share it on Facebook, and spread it via Google+. I will explain in great detail how Wells Fargo baits and switches its longest standing customers, and only waives fees if they complain.
Three years (or more) of paying almost $500 a year for something I didn’t order. I’m a goober for not having noticed it, but of course I am busy trying to help people and make money.