I called Wells Fargo’s customer service line on a Saturday morning but code-switched into my weekday work voice. “Hi. I’m calling about a checking account bonus that may be due to me. Perhaps that’s something you can assist me with?” The agent had no idea what I was talking about. I had wasted a perfectly executed “perhaps” on someone unable to help. I explained that when I opened my checking account, I was promised a $400 bonus if I received $3,000 in direct deposits for three consecutive months. We were in the third month; I had met the threshold. She asked that I call back next month.
Nope. I called back the following Tuesday. “I’m sorry, Mr. Gibson, but it looks like your account was closed on Monday due to inactivity.”
Inactivity? I paid bills with the account and had more than $3,000 in direct deposits going in each month. Shit, this account was hyperactive!
I moved up the Wells Fargo chain and no one could provide an answer as to why my account was closed. The department manager told me, in his So Cal bro voice, “Even a blind man can see that your account was not inactive.” He said a more thorough investigation was needed. I was to hear more within 24 hours. I never heard from him again.
Wells Fargo may be the worst of the worst big banks. They have been caught opening accounts without customer permission, processing transactions largest to smaller to increase the number of overdraft fees, knowingly selling mortgages with misstated borrower information, and, at the top of the list, trying to avoid paying my $400 bonus.
So I went big on ‘em. I filed a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (shout-out to Senator Elizabeth Warren). It’s the governmental agency that ensures banks don’t screw you over, at least not without first telling you in tiny print. I wrote:
On February 28, 2019, I opened a checking account with Wells Fargo. As a condition of opening this account, I was eligible to receive a $400 bonus if I received $3,000 in direct deposits for three consecutive months. On Friday, May 17, 2019, I reached that objective, and called Wells Fargo on May 18, 2019 to inquire about when I would receive the $400 bonus. The customer service rep I spoke to said she did not know when I would receive the bonus. The following Tuesday, May 21, 2019, I logged into my Wells Fargo checking account and learned the account had been closed by Wells Fargo. I called customer service and was told the account was closed, “probably” due to inactivity. This despite the fact that I paid bills with the account every week, including credit card payments, my mortgage, and utilities…I believe the account was closed simply because I achieved the goal to receive the $400 bonus.
About a week later, I received two envelopes from Wells Fargo. The first letter said that my checking account had been canceled, though no reason was given. In the second envelope was my Wells Fargo bonus: a cashier’s check for $400. I deposited that bad boy instantly—in my Capital One account—and celebrated my mini-triumph over America’s fourth largest bank.
I should have known from the start not to deal with Wells Fargo. But churning bank accounts is a profitable side hustle. I open accounts for the free money and then move to the next bank, only keeping permanent accounts with my financial love, Capital One. It’s a small hassle to change direct deposit information at work, and in this case file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but it is worth the extra $1,500 or so I’ve earned in the past year. Thanks, Wells Fargo. And now I’m applying for your credit card that’s offering a $200 bonus. Hopefully we handle this without the feds.