Tag Archives: customer service

Wells Fargo and Intuit Join Forces to Ruin My Weekend

I’m absolutely pissed at Wells Fargo and Intuit right now!

You’ll have to excuse me that all professionalism has fled from me as I write this. I have just come through a painful migration not of my choosing. Confusing decisions by Wells Fargo and Intuit have eaten a significant portion of my weekend and cost me $60 to purchase new software. After all of this I am still not made whole. I’m not sure I will ever be.

The World that Was

For many years I have been a Wachovia checking customer. As you probably know Wachovia was one of the banks that didn’t make it through the mortgage meltdown of 2008 and was acquired by Wells Fargo. The transition of the Wachovia franchise to Wells Fargo has been a relatively slow, state-by-state process. Recently the Commonwealth of Virginia made the switch. All of my accounts have been transitioned from Wachovia to Wells Fargo. This includes digital access to my account information.

I have also been a long-time user of Intuit’s personal money management software. In 2008 Intuit chose to no longer update Quicken for the Macintosh and rather introduced a lightweight application called Quicken Essentials. It seemed odd at the time that the team at Intuit would choose to basically downgrade a computer platform on a strong ascendency with an attractive user base. But Quicken Essentials was Good Enough™. I was able to download transactions for all of my checking, savings and credit card accounts– including my Wachovia accounts. So I cast caution to the wind, moved my data over and continued along with Quicken Essentials.

Wells Fargo Upsets the Apple Cart

Last weekend Wells Fargo pulled the switch on moving the Wachovia customer base in Virginia over to Wells Fargo. Imagine my surprise to find that Wells Fargo does not allow users to automatically download their transaction records to Quicken Essentials. Quicken? Yes. QuickBooks? Yes. But Quicken Essentials? No.

Since there is no longer a Quicken for the Mac, Wells Fargo is effectively telling their customers who happen to own and use Macintosh computers that they are second class. Oh, sure, there is a kludge whereby you can download a transaction file and manually upload your account details to Quicken Essentials, but the process is a pain compared to the single button click update I enjoyed as a Wachovia customer.

Wachovia supported this function. Other banks large and small support this function. But not Wells Fargo. Why not? I haven’t been able to find a satisfactory answer. Most of the forums I review suggest that Wells has asked Intuit not to allow this access. The only reason I can imagine is that there is some smal IT overhead to support this access. I can’t really imagine what that is, but I don’t believe asking a major bank to do what it takes to deliver these table stakes is asking too much. My small local bank that owns my business account offers full access via Quicken Essentials. If the inky-dinky local bank can do it the mighty Wells Fargo can make it happen. ‘Nuff said.

quicken essentials is a roach motel

Upon learning that Wells would not support Quicken Essentials I had to once again swallow hard and move forward. Since I run Parallels on my Mac and have a virtual Windows 7 machine I decided it would be easier to eat the $60 to purchase and install Quicken Deluxe 2011 for Windows on my virtual machine. This is sub-optimal considering the slower performance of applications running in a virtual machine. At the time, though, I thought it would still be easier than changing banks.

Intuit, we have a problem!

Intuit, we have a problem!

You cannot believe how extremely surprised I am to learn that Quicken Essentials cannot export files to a format that can be imported by Quicken. Remember in the movie Apollo 13 when the crew had to built a Carbon Dioxide scrubber from scraps, spare parts and a sock because the scrubbers in the command module were incompatible with the scrubbers in the lunar module? Well, Intuit’s approach to file formats makes the Apollo design choices look like… well… rocket science. I can’t even fathom a “Why” for this decision. It’s pure stupidity.

In summary, these two companies have made three decisions of varying impact that never should have been made:

  1. Intuit should have maintained a full version of Quicken on the Mac. Since building an application for a separate platform can be expensive, choosing not to do this is the most understandable or justifiable of all of the stupid decisions these two companies have made.
  2. Wells Fargo should support full access to Quicken Essentials users to download their transactions the same way the customers of ever other bank worth their salt are able to do. There’s zero excuse that this is not available.
  3. Intuit should definitely support file export and import among all of the financial applications. At the very least there should be a file format usable by all flavors of Quicken. Not allowing export from Quicken Essentials to Quicken is stupidity of JarJarian proportions.

As it stands I’ve spent a significant part of my weekend trying to make a transition that should have taken just a minute or two. I’m worse off as both a bank customer and a software user than I was before the transition happened. I’m out $60. Now I’m in the market for a new bank and a new personal finance application.

A Digression from the Other Side of Customer Service

I have a little bit of a rant that I need to get off my chest.

One of the things that happens when you work for a company that provides products and services to a large consumer base (as I do) is that people are constantly asking you about how they should handle problems they’re having with your company’s products or services.

Many people are under the impression that there is some secret back channel for customer service, and that knowing someone who works for the company gives them special access to this back channel.  Please let me burst everyone’s bubble by revealing that no such back channel exists.  I am a customer of my employer’s services, and I call the same customer service line or access the same service portal that you do when I have an issue.

In large enterprises the customer service apparatus has been designed to deliver as much standard customer service to as large a community of customers as possible at the lowest cost possible.  These designers of these systems walk a very fine line between the convenience and personalization customers receive and the costs associated with delivering that level of service.  While customers of many mass markets companies have expressed frustration or even outright anger at low levels of customer service, they’ve clearly demonstrated with their spending that the majority of customer are unwilling to pay for a higher level of service.  

Some companies are starting to explore the use of social media such as Twitter to help provide “personalized” advice on a broader scale, and I’m hopeful for the potential of social media to give customers better advice on how to navigate customer service and get questions to complex service issues.  Small companies are often able to deliver this level of customer intimacy, and it’s the holy grail for enterprises to rediscover this.

I understand my friends’ and colleagues’ frustration with mass customer service models.  I feel it, too.  I feel it from every company with which I have to interact to have service issues resolved.  When a company rises above my expectation for standard mass market service levels I am genuinely shocked, amazed and impressed.  It is very, very rare that this happens.

My advice to friends and colleagues is to go through the standard customer service channels and present your issue or problem clearly and accurately.  Document everything.  Be calm.  Be polite.  Be patient.  Scour the company’s web site for information about your product or service before you make the call.  It is also always helpful to scan customer forums to see if any other customers have faced your same issue and have found a resolution.  This advice does not come from any insights of being an employee.  It’s common sense.  I employ the same practices when I call any company with a service issue.  Know that sometimes the resolution to a service issue is to let it go and move on (either with the same company or move to a competitor).  Knowing how to effectively engage customer service channels is a million times more valuable than knowing someone at the company.