With Wachovia signs coming down and Wells Fargo signs going up, I had a vision of the dystopian future that awaits us all.
At 8:10 on Saturday morning the phone rang. Anxious to ensure that the ringing phone didn't wake up my sleeping wife, I did something I almost never do: I answered it. Caller ID told me its was Wells Fargo so when an automated message wanted me to confirm I was me by pressing "1", I complied. In the twinkling of an eye I was transported half way around the globe to some call center in China. I'm guessing, Shanghai. The Wells Fargo representative obviously didn't get his English training in Oxford or anywhere that people actually speak English. I eventually figured out that he was calling about a late payment of $12. OK, I said, I'll pay it online as soon as I hang up.
This is where it got strange and annoying.
He protested that if I paid online it wouldn't be processed until Monday (not true). He wanted me to pay him or, allow him to draft my checking account (unfortunately also with Wells Fargo). I guess this process generates income for the call center. Anyway, this is where I lost my signature cool. I said I would pay online, told him not to call me again and slammed the phone down.
I went to the Well Fargo site, paid off the credit card entirely and fired off a angry message to Customer Service. Later in the day I got a friendly " we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you." message from someone code named Jessica M.
Being still pissed off I wrote back that in future instances when they needed to get in touch with me I preferred email and that I NEVER wanted to get a call from one of their "offshore call centers" again.
I must have pissed them off because the message I got in reply said
"If a cease and desist calls is placed on your account it will automatically be closed. Is that still your request?"
So this was how it was going to be. They would be nice to you--until they weren't. Oh, and this message was not from little Jessica M, it was from Wells Fargo Card Services.
I wrote back accusing them of intentionally misconstruing my message. The tone of their next message softened somewhat and I decided not to push my luck by replying further. My finances are so intimately entwined with Wells Fargo that pissing them off is not smart no matter how angry I am.
So what have we learned:
1) Big banks don't take shit
2) The miracle of fiber optics allows big banks to find the cheapest call center labor on Earth
3) English is optional
4) Don't answer your phone, ever
5) Never use that VISA card again