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Old 11-18-2001, 11:36 PM
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: California
Posts: 1,214
Ever heard of a piece of shit company called Chexsystems? If you haven't, allow me to introduce them.

Ok, until recently, I chose to bank with Wells Fargo. One day, I ordered checks from them. They sent me a email telling me that I couldn't order checks at this time because the address I wanted the checks sent to did not match the address they had on file. Fair enough, I'm all for security in banking although it was interesting that I get monthly statements every month but they can't figure out where to send my checks to. Regardless, I went online, filled out the change of address, waited a few days for the change to process, and re-ordered my checks. Fast forward to 3 weeks later, haven't seen any checks. I call to inquire why and am informed that they were sent to my former address!! Now these douchebags tell me that they made a mistake and have to put a hard hold on my account because there is a box of checks floating around out there somewhere just waiting to be abused. The only remedy they can think of... I will have to open a new account. This is a major inconvenience because I am leaving in a few days to go out of town on business but ok, I figure when I get home from my trip, I will change my account. They assure me that nothing will go though my account in the meantime. I don't deposit any money before I leave because I may not be able to get it out on the road. Besides, nothing will clear because these assholes said so.

So while I am gone, they let an auto bill-pay to my ISP go through. Now, I am across the country with no checks and no ATM card, virtually friggin cut off from my bank, yet they let this pass through. It overdraws my account, they add a surcharge, which overdraws it more and adds another surcharge. I get back three weeks later to find out my account is overdrawn by 150 bucks. And then 2 days later,I find out that they have closed my account, but failed to mention that they reported me to a little known service called Chexsystems.

Steaming mad, I utter "Fuck Wells Fargo, I'm going to a competitor". I go to another bank to open an account only to be told that I have a mark on Chexsystems and therefore not only can I not open an account at this bank, I can't open an account at ANY bank for three years. I call my WF bank manager who tells me that it sounds like Wells made a mistake but only "corporate" can remove me from Chexsystems. Corporate tells me it looks like Wells made a mistake but only the bank manager can remove me. He refuses and they refuse. I got transferred 11 times at corporate, disconnected twice, and found many seemingly sympathetic people who did absolutely nothing to help.

Now my only option to cash my paycheck is to go to a check cashing place. Guess who is investing in check cashing places these days?...yep, the major banks. Another interesting little irony, it turns out that Chexsystems owns the company that I ordered my checks from, starting this whole fiasco.

Now, I had been a customer for over 7 years, never had an overdrawn account, never bounced a check, didn't even make a mistake (other than try to order checks), but I am banned from 99% of all of the banks for up to 3 years! I am not alone. Many good folks have been reported to chexsystems due to a mistake by the bank. I had never heard of these chexsystem pricks, neither had my friends, maybe you haven't. But they are out there and their not so secret goal is to remove people who don't keep big balances in the bank, from the system. The bank pays them to provide this service because small customers are a nuisance, plain and simple. Think I am making this up? Want to learn more? click here or read this.

These people are fucking with ordinary peoples lives (5 million of them!!) and if you are not making your bank drool with your balance, you could be next.
Old 11-19-2001, 12:38 AM
Kat Kat is offline
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Curled up in a sunny spot
Posts: 8,840
musicguy, you probably didn't post this looking for advice, but does your employer have a credit union you can join? Or, if not, is there a small local bank who might take your word over Chexsystems, particularly a bank that doesn't have to answer to a corporate office and thus might be more flexible?

And make sure to tell all your friends about Wells Fargo's [not-so-]great customer service, and let your bank manager and any high-up officials you can get letters sent to at Corporate know that you're doing it.
Old 11-19-2001, 03:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 128
Most (all?) states have offices dealing with regulation of banks. Copy them on all corespondence. I have found that you will usually get someones attention if you are reporting them to their regulators.

I have used this technique on telephone companies, Insurance companies, and banks.

It works.
Old 11-19-2001, 07:31 PM
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: California
Posts: 1,214
Thanks for the advice folks. Any additional advice is greatly appreciated.
Old 11-19-2001, 11:08 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: astride my Arabian
Posts: 633
musicguy, your bank manager at WF was less than truthful with you. He/she is the person that can remove you from ChexSystem. Make an appointment with that branch manager, and insist that they pull your records. Firmly, but politely point out that it was the bank's error, not yours.

Insist that the bank manager remove you from ChexSystems. Only the reporting bank can get your name removed from the CS databanks. They should also reverse the charges for the overdrafts, if it was the bank's mistake.

If you don't stand up for yourself now, you face five years of being a second-class citizen. Banned from nearly every banking institution in the US. Cashing your checks at those loathsome "Check-into-Cash" places...that the major banks own.
Old 11-19-2001, 11:12 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 573
I must echo truthbot. Stake your claim IMMEDIATELY with the branch manager, and don't back down until the situation is rectified.
Old 11-20-2001, 01:01 AM
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Oakland, CA, USA
Posts: 5,625
I work for Wells Fargo (wholesale, not retail). If you can't get relief from your branch manager (be polite, but be firm) send me an email and I'll do what I can to help you climb the chain until you get the help you deserve (assuming your side is the correct side).
Old 11-20-2001, 01:38 AM
Join Date: Aug 1999
Posts: 3,759
Some options: sue them for libel, and/or restraint of trade. Or print out a flyer describing your situation, and hand it out to WF customers.
Old 11-20-2001, 10:17 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: pick a city, it'll change
Posts: 168
Originally posted by truthbot
musicguy, your bank manager at WF was less than truthful with you. He/she is the person that can remove you from ChexSystem. Make an appointment with that branch manager, and insist that they pull your records. Firmly, but politely point out that it was the bank's error, not yours.

Insist that the bank manager remove you from ChexSystems. Only the reporting bank can get your name removed from the CS databanks. They should also reverse the charges for the overdrafts, if it was the bank's mistake.
Originally posted by obfusciatrist
I work for Wells Fargo (wholesale, not retail). If you can't get relief from your branch manager (be polite, but be firm) send me an email and I'll do what I can to help you climb the chain until you get the help you deserve (assuming your side is the correct side).
have to agree here, i had someone talk to someone really high up at Wells and they said the same thing about the branch manager

BTW she really thought everyone's advice was really good (nothing like introducing someone to the TM with a thread from the pit)
Old 11-21-2001, 09:47 AM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: A house.
Posts: 3,778
I know this is too late now, but just for future reference:
Buy your checks from a place like : or

The checks are much cheaper and look like the exact same ones from the bank. When I opened up my account, the checks were going to be: $25.00 or something insane like that. I got them via the mail for $6.00 bucks.

There are a lot of places that print up cheap flimsy checks, but those two places do an excellent job.
Old 11-21-2001, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 769
I hate Wells Fargo. I hate Wells Fargo. I hate Wells Fargo. Not original enough vitriol for you? How about this: I HATE WELLS FARGO.

I have both heard about from numerous other parties and experienced myself (had a mortgage there once) absoulute, utter, unadulterated crap stemming from Wells Fargo people and policies and procedures; it can't be pure coincidence anymore.

I won't go into the details of my story here, but will offer advice to anyone who cares to listen:
Go bank at a credit union
Refinance your mortgage with a smaller institution
Buy your checks at one of those deals mentioned above.

I've done all of the above after learning some little lesson or other, usually the hard way. Oh, and did I mention that I hate Wells Fargo?
Old 11-21-2001, 11:32 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Obama Country
Posts: 6,748
My Wells Fargo check story.

It's not nearly as bad as the OP's, but still...

I have always ordered my checks from a company like those cited by Bad News Baboon. Never had any problem. But I had sort of outgrown the pattern I was using, and I couldn't find another one I really liked, so I figured what the heck, I'll just order through my bank (Wells).

They spelled my name wrong! Over ten years I've been banking with these people, ordering my checks from external companies with no problem, and the first time I try to order checks directly from Wells, they can't even get my name right.

I thought about writing a bunch of checks and then claiming it wasn't me -- that's not the way my name is spelled on my account, bozos (or any other records, for that matter). But for now I'm just crossing out the incorrect letters and replacing them.

Moral: If you must bank at Wells, DO NOT order checks from them.

And good luck musicguy. I hope the great suggestions in this thread will help you resolve your situation.
Old 11-21-2001, 02:14 PM
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Dublin Ohio USA
Posts: 242

Whenever you have difficulty with a company or government bureaucracy, send them certified letters. Explain in polite detail what happened and ask them to investigate further and respond to you in writing.

Certified letters donít cost much, but they establish a clear paper trail. If you should ever need to sue or involve a government agency, your certified letters provide rock hard evidence. Judges love certified letters because an independent agency (the US Post Office) verifies that the correspondence was received or refused.

Businesses and government agencies take certified letters seriously and often give them priority attention because they know they are being tracked and it could haunt them later.
Old 11-21-2001, 02:47 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 283
wells fargo is the bane of the banking experience.

apparently, the balance i get from the atm is not necessarily accurate. neither is the balance that the teller gives me. nor the balance that the bank manager gives me. and if i base my spending on any of these balances, i am liable to overdraft and get hit by huge fees which put me even further into overdraft and thus incur new fees. and this, according to the bank, is my fault.

i understand the need for the customer to keep track of his or her finances. but when i accidently went over one time, and came into the bank to clear it up, paying the fees and putting enough money into my account to bring it current and buy groceries, i damn well expect the balance the bank gives me to be accurate.

instead, i got screwed out of something like $400 and reported to chexsystems. luckily, i was already pissed off and had opened a new account with bank of america (the institution with which i had done business with no problems from the time i was 12 until i moved next to a wells fargo at 20 and thought i'd change banks for "convenience".)

Old 11-21-2001, 03:02 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 67
Just wondering, abuse angel, why is the balance you get from the ATM or teller not accurate? Is it because of checks you've written that haven't been deposited yet? If so, there's not much the bank can do about that--all they can give is the balance in your account for the checks they know about.

I get balances from ATMs and tellers all the time, and I've just learned to never give them a second glance. I always assume that my checkbook balance is more up to date than the bank's. As long as the balance they give me is more than the balance I have recorded in my checkbook, I figure all is well and good.

I have also decided that Overdraft Protection is worth whatever you have to do to get it. I can't count the number of times this has saved me from overdraft charges.
Old 11-21-2001, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Cali-forn-i-a
Posts: 3,645
I too am a victim of chexsystems. It was sort of my fault though for the cardinal rule I broke "thou shalt not co-sign on a bank account for slacker boyfriend"

Yeah, it was at B of A, who in my opinion, are even WORSE than the evil Wells. Shit, B of A will charge you for driving by their bank and glancing inside. "OH! She's a customer! Better charge her for that drive by!" I'll show 'em a drive by....

Anyways, slacker boyfriend overdraws the account. So Miss. Account lady calls me and tells me that the account has been overdrawn for like, 3 days. I apologize profusely and go into the bank the next day and deposit enough money to bring the balance up. TOO LATE! They had already closed the account and reported both my evil X and myself to chexsystems, thus making me a leper to all banks and creditors. So I was sentenced to three years of getting 10% of my paycheck taken out every time I had to cash it at Western Union (not to mention feeling ghetto as all hell)

So my B of A lady tells me when I go in there to explain that they had ruined my life and they all need to go to hell, that they cannot remove me from chexsystems. That no one could, I was stuck. Kinda reminds me of the time I got into it with a credit card company who told me I had to contact securities about something but that securities DIDN'T HAVE A PHONE.

I managed to open an account in a small bank that spits on chexsystems and that doesn't believe that one mistake should give you a 3 year sentence. Even criminals get more of a break then that with the 3 strikes rule.

The moral of this story boys and girls is this: follow these commadments and protect yourself from evil chexsystems trolls:

1. Thou shalt not co-sign ANYTHING for slacker boyfriends.
2. Thou shalt not bank with Bank of America nor Wells Fargo.
3. Thou shalt not believe anything anyone from the above mentioned banks tells them unless they have spoken to no less than 3 people from that bank.
4. Thou shall pray every night for the death and destruction of chexsystems.
Old 11-21-2001, 04:32 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 283
Just wondering, abuse angel, why is the balance you get from the ATM or teller not accurate? Is it because of checks you've written that haven't been deposited yet? If so, there's not much the bank can do about that--all they can give is the balance in your account for the checks they know about.
as far as i could figure, the balance was incorrect because after they gave it to me, they charged me more fees, which i had no idea about. they were literally charging me fees for my fees, on top of doing silly things like rearranging the order of my transactions. one night i went to bed with my online statement showing that an amount had been deposited and then a check had cleared. by morning it read that the check had bounced and then money had been deposited. but i hadn't printed the sheet out, so i never could prove it.

trust me, i am aware of when banking problems are my fault and when they are not. i am currently without an account because i messed up and overdrew my bank of america account by more than i've been able to repay so far. i know that that was my fault. but wells fargo seriously screwed me over.
Old 11-21-2001, 04:36 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 283
lez, b of a closed the account after only a few days??? they left my account open for almost a month when i was overdrawn by nearly $200, and they've assured me that i get my account back when i pay up. and this is after giving me a new account despite the fact that my ex overdrew our old b of a account (after i left and before i closed it -- the first thing that bastard did when i left was empty the bank accounts), which i didn't even know about until i went in to open the new one (did that make sense? ie, he overdrew, i didn't know and took my name off the account. when i opened a new one several months later, they asked me to pay the overdraft and then gave me a new account.)
Old 11-21-2001, 04:49 PM
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Cali-forn-i-a
Posts: 3,645
Nope, the lady called me and said that it had been 3 days. I went in the next day, and they had closed the account. I think it was because it had never been overdrawn, if he didn't have enough money in the account to pay a check, they just bounced it, then they charged the fee, so there would be enough money in the account to pay the fee without resulting in an overdraft. But I guess this particular check was only short like, 5 bucks, so they bounced it then charged 25 bucks which overdrew the account. But I went in there the DAY AFTER SHE CALLED and it was too late. They closed the account and reported my ass. I can't believe your B of A is so lenient with overdraft things, maybe they were trying to make an example out of me or something, who knows. It seemed a bit rash to me.
Old 11-21-2001, 05:05 PM
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,394
Get away from writing checks altogether. I cannot recommend highly enough a bill paying company like Paytrust. I am NEVER late for a payment, if I get a bill due in two weeks I can "pay" the bill online immediately, but not have it "sent" until a date I specified. I write exactly ONE check each month for rent. If I have not paid a bill that looks like it is scheduled I get a friendly email reminder. No stamps, no making sure the stupid bill has the address sticking out the little window. I have almost instant check balancing. I could go on and and on. I do pay a monthly fee, but i think it is well well worth it.
Monster put in wallet.
Old 11-21-2001, 05:20 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 283
tret, that's all well and good for the bills, but how do you pay for everything else? you either have to write a check or withdraw cash from the bank (and i've found reasons to stress in both of these).
Old 11-21-2001, 05:26 PM
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: The Great Valley
Posts: 1,220
They're all bad, banks that is.

The advice to go to a credit union and to buy checks from a check making company instead of the bank or credit union is very good. All banks are bad, especially the nationwide ones. You can find a good one, but if you move and stay with the same bank, but different branch, watch out. I've been with Bank of America and for the most part, they're fairly good; also been with Wells Fargo and they are ABUSIVE to say the least. I've been with some local banks and they are mostly ok, but inevitably they're bought out by the larger, Wells Fargo, BofA, Washington Mutual, etc. Heck, even the larger ones merge and create HumongoBank.

I've found the larger the institution, the more conniving and obfuscating they can be. Passing the buck is the only game in town.

I no longer use a bank, but am a member of 3 credit unions. I have my house financed through one and we're thinking of buying a car next year, so I'll probably finance that through one of the 3. No better way to go, IMHO.

About the only thing banks can provide that credit unions can't is the Cashier's Check or Certified Check, not that there's much occasion for that.
Old 11-21-2001, 05:33 PM
Join Date: Jun 2000
Posts: 1,394
abuse angel

Sorry, i wasn't very clear, I wasn't saying you could get away from the bank, and I guess it was Off topivc from the OP. With online bill paying you still need to have your money in a bank, it just removes a lot of the hassle of dealing with banks wrt to checks. Yes, you need cash or credit card or checks for everyday purchases. I use a CC that I payoff every month for that specific purpose. I never take my checkbook anywahere.
Old 11-21-2001, 05:34 PM
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 283
and how does one join a credit union? don't you have to be a member of something or other (like a teacher's union)?
Old 11-21-2001, 11:38 PM
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: The Great Valley
Posts: 1,220
abuse angel

I found a link. Haven't tried it yet, but I believe you can search for some in your area. All of the 3 I joined are from different times. One is from my work, one is from a previous job I held and one with my mother-in-law's influence. She was a member and could sponsor other members, so she sponsored my wife and I.

Generally CU's are based on a common theme: members of a church, employees of a union or company, members of a group such as stamp collectors or whatever. You might check with friends and relatives and most CU's allow sponsoring.

Word of warning: There's usually a deposit required which stays in your account and usually gains interest. Two of the CU's require $50 and one requires $25. Also, no bouncing, at least at first. Usually o/d protection is available via a credit card or a loan direct from the CU. You may have to wait a bit on that, like after 60 days or so.

Good Luck.

Old 11-22-2001, 01:43 PM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 769
Joining credit union

The criteria for joining a credit union is getting very loose anymore. For the state University one near me, you have to either be a U employee, or have one in your family. (That's pretty tenuous sometimes, I'm sure).

For mine, you need only "live or work in [local tri-county area]" .
Old 11-22-2001, 02:15 PM
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: California
Posts: 1,214
Thanks everyone so much for your advice!

An update:
I visited the bank manager again a few days ago and he was not sympathetic at all. He refused to aknowledge that he held the power to rectify this situation. All he would do is give me the number to the WF loss prevention department. I've already talked to them numerous times and their response has always been, talk to the bank manager.

I have not been able to find a smaller bank in my area (southern California) that does not belong to chexsystems. If anyone know of one, I would be very appreciative. I also learned that if you apply at 3 banks that belong to chexsystems and are turned down, that puts another mark on chexsystems for 90 days.

What really irks me is that if WF doesn't want my business anymore, fine! I don't really want to be affiliated with them either. But to say that I can't bank anywhere for three years seems to be an unfair business practice and a restriction of trade. I spoke with a lawyer who would be happy to take my case except that he lives 2000 miles from me. He is trying to put me in contact with someone in my area.

At this point, I am considering an internet-based bank. As far as I can tell, they don't use chexsystems. Has anyone had any experience, either good or bad, with internet banking?
Old 11-22-2001, 02:49 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 2,308
musicguy -

I had virtually the same experience as you did, but with Bank Of America rather then WF. I'm also in So. Cal., and no, there really aren't any banks around here that don't use ChexSysterms, at least not that I've found.

ChexSystems is evil. Sure, they help prevent people with a history of fraud from opening new accounts, but their line is very thin, and many, many people like you and myself end up on their lists. And, unlike credit card companies, they're not regulated at all. There is no burden of proof on their part. There is almost no recourse for correcting mistakes and removing ourselves from their lists. Learn more about their evil ways, and get a list of banks that don't use ChexSystems, at ChexSystems Bites.

So yeah, I've gone internet banking. And to be honest, I've been pretty happy with it. I use TD Waterhousebank. None of the crappy random fees that I've gotten from every brick and mortar bank. They reimburse me for my ATM fees (since they obviously don't have ATMs of their own). The drawbacks are there too, though. Mailing checks in to deposit them, while it's been reliable, obviously takes longer. It takes about a week to a week for checks to clear. And when a rogue ATM machine ate my ATM card, I was helpless for a few days until they FedExed me another one, not having a real branch to walk into and withdraw money. But on the whole, I've been pretty satisfied. Good thing, since thanks to ChexSystems, I don't have much of a choice.

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