It’s the stuff of nightmares: You hand over your debit card to pay for a cart full of groceries, try to cover lunch for you and a friend or attempt to withdraw some pocket money from an ATM only to discover your card was declined. A quick check of your account shows you have a balance of zero—or worse, you are seriously overdrawn.
Only, for some Wells Fargo customers, this was no bad dream.
Customers ‘Angry’ Over Double Bill Payments
On Jan. 17, an internal processing error caused some Wells Fargo customers’ online bill payments to go through twice. For many, the glitch caused panic and even temporary financial hardship. One Twitter user posted that the error wiped out her savings account:
#WellsFargo just ran my bill pay twice, cleaned out my savings, and overdrew my checking account big time. I'm thinking a bunch of people are trying to call them because they are pretty much not answering their phones. I'm so angry!
— Theresa Jennings (@TheresaCreates) January 17, 2018
Another Wells Fargo customer had her property taxes withdrawn twice! Those payments are usually pretty large, so you can imagine how a double payment would wreck havoc on your bank account balance.
@TODAYshow did you hear about @WellsFargo bill pay system?! It's a big mess!!! Double payment of bills. I paid my real estate taxes yesterday on two properties. OMG! Wiped me out and then some. #WellsFargo #fail
— Yolanda True♡ (@lyddt) January 18, 2018
What seemed to concern and frustrate customers even more was the apparent lack of transparency and communication on Wells Fargo’s part. Customers took to social media to complain about long wait times when they attempted to reach customer service:
@wellsfargo Really? You paid all my bills twice? Been on hold over 30 minutes. You could make a statement, not everyone has an hour to waste holding to correct YOUR mistake.
— Jennifer Maude (@jenluvs2run131) January 17, 2018
This Twitter user suggested that the bank should have notified customers about the glitch:
@WellsFargo customers should receive a notification or communication when you make a wide scale error such as the double debiting of bill pay transactions #WellsFargo #banking #CustomerService #putthemoneyback
— Jennifer Stevenson (@jgwpsu96) January 18, 2018
Frustrations mounted when people did get through to customer service, only to be told there was no clear timeline as to when the issue would be resolved:
— Kensie Poor (@kmpoor10) January 18, 2018
One Twitter user even suggested that Wells Fargo customers not even take the time to call the bank about the glitch:
if you’re on hold with #WellsFargo please hang up they’re not going to do anything but say sorry and they don’t know what’s going on. Save yourself some time
— La Reina♡ (@TheBlacDaria) January 18, 2018
Wells Fargo Finally Reaches Out To Customers
At nearly 8 p.m. on Jan. 17, the bank posted a brief update to Twitter and Facebook informing customers that they were aware of the issue and working to resolve it:
Some customers may be having an issue with their Bill Pay transactions. Thanks for your patience while we research the issue. We’ll keep you updated.
— Wells Fargo (@WellsFargo) January 18, 2018
The following day, the bank reported that the error had been resolved. Executives declined to tell CNN how many customers were affected.
In a statement to The Statesman, Wells Fargo communications manager Hilary O’Byrne said that customers will not be responsible for fees and charges caused by the error.
“We are aware of the online Bill Pay situation which was caused by an internal processing error,” O’Byrne said. “We are currently working to correct it, and there is no action required for impacted customers at this time. Any fees or charges that may have been incurred as a result of this error will be taken care of. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
We’re sorry if you had an issue with your Bill Payments yesterday. Technical teams have corrected the errors.
— Wells Fargo (@WellsFargo) January 18, 2018
Wells Fargo had already been in the news in recent months for creating fake accounts and illegally repossessing hundreds of vehicles belonging to active military personnel. These legal troubles have resulted in a significant decline in revenue. The cost to the bank of this most recent glitch remains to be seen.
Even though Wells Fargo stands to be a big beneficiary of recent federal tax changes, the company announced that it plans to close 800 branches by 2020. The company said the closings are a result of customers’ preference to do banking online. But Wall Street analysts think the cuts could be an attempt to reduce costs to pay for legal expenses.
Will Customers Stick With Wells Fargo?
Along with taking a hit for fees, the financial institution may lose customers over this recent glitch. Los Angeles singer-songwriter Cindy Alexander has been a Wells Fargo customer for 30 years. Her account became overdrawn by $800 as a result of the error.
“I started transferring money out of my children’s savings account to cover it,” Alexander told CNNMoney.
Alexander proceeded to wait on hold for 90 minutes before reaching customer service. And now she plans to take her business elsewhere.
“The money is back, but I’m done with them,” she said. “There’s enough stress in life financially. To have your bank make it harder is inexcusable.”
Were you affected by this bill payment processing glitch? Will you switch banks because of it or will you stick with Wells Fargo?