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Wells Fargo Bank and knuckleheads

By Dian Vujovich

I like the word “knuckleheads”. It says so much on so many different levels. The Click and Clack guys of “Car Talk” use it often. Hearing it always makes me smile.

So what’s the headline all about? Broadly speaking, banks and how they treat their customers. More specifically, a recent Wachovia/Wells Fargo experience.

Whenever I have a less-than-positive banking experience I wonder what’s up with banks?

Are all the people in management at them really clueless about what banking is all about? If they are, let me help them out: Banking is all about relationships. Personal relationships. And the more difficult, awkward, stupid or cumbersome a bank makes that relationship the more likely an existing customer is going to walk. Walk as in down the block or across the street to another bank that’s probably going to be very happy to welcome new business.

Relationships, bank people. It’s about relationships. And keeping them.

What got me irritated recently relates to Wachovia Bank. Wells Fargo bought Wachovia in 2008 and is in the final stages of that merger. I’ve been banking at Wachovia for decades, the tellers at the drive-through branch I use all know me and it’s nice to be recognized and called by my first name particularly in this day and age.

Clearly that relationship is over. I learned so the other day when I drove to the drive-though window and wanted to deposit a check. The teller greeted me but didn’t know me from Adam, asked me for not one but two pieces of identification, then after waiting way longer than the two other cars that arrived after I did, put a hold on my check, sent back a deposit receipt that was incorrect, along with my driver’s license and not a dollar of the money I’d requested on the deposit slip.

Isn’t there a law against not making funds available within 24 hours particularly when the customer is in good standing? Long story shortened, the outside teller told me Wells Fargo has its own procedures. So, I went inside to speak with a manager where things were straightened out.

But there’s more.

Driving from the drive-through area to the front of this freestanding building on Palm Beach Lakes Blvd, I noticed three new parking signs in front of the bank’s front door. They read: ” Low Emission Vehicle Parking Only”. What the heck is that all about, I wondered. I asked a young man, whose car was parked in one of those low emission spots, and was helping a woman out of the passenger side of his car if he knew what that sign meant. He said he didn’t.

Then I asked the man who greeted me inside the bank about the signs. He said those spots are for cars with low emissions. I asked if that meant spots for newer vehicles and he agreed. Then I asked why drivers of newer vehicles are getting preferential parking treatment. He said the building qualifies as a green building and pointed to a sign designating it as such.

I don’t understand what being green has to do with giving drivers of lower emission cars primo parking spots. Spots that, by the way, outnumber the handicapped parking spaces. And, as a result, make anyone who parks in a handicapped spot now has to walk further to get into the bank than someone driving a low emission car.

How crazy is that?

I’m also curious about how Wells Fargo plans on enforcing its new parking sign restrictions. Perhaps tow trucks and $250 parking violation tickets are on the horizon.

Whatever, looks like knucklehead management to me.

As an aside, Wells Fargo stock, WFC, is “one of the worst performers” this year, according to the KBW Bank Index. Why am I not surprised.

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