Wells Fargo Update
Wells Fargo Bank has changed it's policies. It now offers a "Do-Not-Call" policy "upon demand" as the law requires. To get a copy of the policy click here. In our opinion, it is complete and should be a model for the industry.
We present this page as an example of just how far they have come in complying with the TCPA. They have gone from being one of the worst to being one of the best. This page was originally written in March of 1999, and is presented below.
Wells Fargo Bank's
"Do Not Call Policy"
"If you think the hunt for Red October was tough, see what we had to do to get a copy of Wells Fargo Bank's 'Do Not Call' policy."
Robert Arkow, C.A.T.S. founder
Wells Fargo Bank (the west coast megabank), like every other telemarketer, must make its "Do Not Call Policy" available upon demand.
In early January 1999, we received information that Wells Fargo Bank did not make its policy available upon demand. So we at C.A.T.S. made test calls to the bank. In all cases, the phone representatives had no clue as to how to get us a policy. One suggested that we contact a bank branch. We did.
On January 15, 1999, C.A.T.S. founder Robert Arkow went to a Wells Fargo branch in Albertson's market and spoke to Randall Louie, a "Personal Banking Officer." Mr. Louie said "another branch" was going to fax the document, and had Mr. Arkow wait. And wait. After 45 minutes (and no document), Mr. Louie promised to fax the "Do Not Call" policy to Mr. Arkow as soon as it arrived. Arkow went home and waited. And waited.
Nine days later, Arkow ran into Mr. Louie at another supermarket, where Wells Fargo has a small display and ATM machine. Arkow again asked Mr. Louie for the policy. Louie claimed he had turned the request in to his supervisor, and that the matter was being handled. Mr. Arkow went home and waited. And waited.
Twenty-six days later, Arkow contacted Mr. Louie and again asked for the policy. Mr. Louie threatened to sue Mr. Arkow for "harassment," and suggested that he "try another branch" of the bank.
We couldn't resist the challenge, so we held the first-ever....
Hunt for Wells Fargo Bank's
"Do Not Call" Policy Road Rally
On Saturday, February 20, 1999, we set out from Santa Clarita, California on a mission to visit as many branches of Wells Fargo Bank as we could in a day. Ten hours, 92 miles, and 10 bank branches later, we still had not obtained their "Do Not Call" policy which, according to Federal Law, must be "available upon demand."
Reseda Wells Fargo Branch
18400 Sherman Way, Reseda, CA 91355
We entered the bank, met with "Agent" Armen Alkaragian, and requested a copy of their "Do Not Call" policy. We told him that Customer Service (the '800' number) could not supply the policy and had suggested that we try a branch office. Mr. Alkaragian called his "internal" Customer Service number (the one where operators are available). A few minutes later he proudly announced that they were faxing the policy to him, and went to get it. He returned, smugly waving the "policy" -- which turned out to be an exclusion form to get off mailing and phone lists. When we pointed this out, he suggested we try the other Reseda branch. Off we went in search of the policy.
Reseda Wells Fargo Branch
18318 Vanowen Street, Reseda, CA 91355
Inside Ralphs Market
We met with "Personal Banking Officer" Abbey Escobar, who made several phone calls and tried to get the "Do Not Call" policy for us. During the process, his sidekick, Arlene, was laughing. We asked her if she found all this funny. Her reply: "Yes". (If she can find the violation of Federal Laws that protect consumers "funny", then she must find the Federal Sexual Harassment Statutes hilarious.) Meanwhile, Mr. Escobar was getting nowhere with his phone calls, and finally gave us a map that showed the branch locations in the San Fernando Valley. We thanked him and set off for our next checkpoint. (Though he couldn't produce a "Do Not Call" policy, Mr. Escobar gets an "E" for effort. Sidekick Arlene gets an "A". . .for Abject Stupidity.)
Reseda Wells Fargo Branch
19333 Victory Blvd. Reseda, CA 91355
Inside Von's Market
We spoke to "Banking Center Manager" Azim Mirhossaini, who told us we needed a main branch, not a supermarket branch. Unable to provide us with a copy of their "Do Not Call" policy, Mr. Mirhossaini did offer us a 2nd trust deed loan. After we turned down that and his auto loan offer, he gave us directions to the branch on Topanga Canyon Blvd. The directions were wrong.
Checkpoint: The Warner Ranch Branch
6001 Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Woodland Hills, CA 91367
We waited in the teller line for 10 minutes. When we asked the teller for a copy of the bank's "Do Not Call" policy, we were directed to a small area with two desks. We met with "Agent" Maria Giovanna Lupu, and made our request for their "Do Not Call" policy. Ms. Lupu disappeared into an office, and returned 10 minutes later with a Wells Fargo "Question and Answer" pamphlet. When we pointed out that this was not a "Do Not Call" policy, she offered us coffee and again disappeared into the office. After we drained our "sampler" size cups, Ms. Lupu returned and told us the bank did not have such a policy. We then told her what we had gone through thus far, and showed her an FCC ruling regarding providing the policy. Ms. Lupu decided we were "harassing the bank with the law!" We offered her a copy of the ruling, but she refused to take it. We headed to the next checkpoint.
Checkpoint: The Canoga Park Office
21834 Sherman Way
Canoga Park, CA 91303
After waiting on the longest teller line in bank history, we finally stepped up to the window -- where teller Marie Cabod directed us to see "Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager" Dennis Salem. We waited another 20 minutes for him. When he finally emerged, he told us he was "too busy" and that we should "come back Monday." (We briefly thought of asking if we should "bring back the witch's broomstick" as well, but decided not to.) We did ask Mr. Salem if he could just call us, but he refused, insisting that we come back Monday and he would take care of us. When we explained that we lived over 20 miles away, he said, "Well, that's the best I can do," and suggested we try the branch at 6001 Topanga Canyon Blvd. (the branch we had just come from). We told him we had just been there, he told us to "Come back Monday," and we left. If Mr. Salem were a car salesman, we'd give him an "E" for excellence; but as "Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager," he gets a "D" for ducking the issue.
Checkpoint: The Woodland Hills Branch
23381 Mulholland Drive
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
We entered the market's Wells Fargo Bank display. No one was there. We asked the store manager if he knew where the bank person was. He claimed to have seen him that morning, and then proceeded to page him over the PA system. We all waited. After 10 minutes, he paged him again. We all waited. After another 10 minutes, the manager told us he did not know where the bank person was. So off we went to the next checkpoint in search of the coveted Wells Fargo Bank "Do Not Call" policy.
Checkpoint: The Calabasas Office
23701 Calabasas Rd.
Calabasas, CA 91302
We entered the Calabasas branch, approached the desk of "Agent" Cindy Cherry, and asked her for a copy of the bank's "Do Not Call" policy. She sent us to the teller line. When we reached the teller and made our request, we were directed back to Cindy Cherry -- who then directed us to Rita Alegria, an "Agent Officer". Ms. Alegria provided us with yet another "exclusion form" [see First Checkpoint], claiming that that was the bank's "Do Not Call" policy. When we pointed out that this was not a "Do Not Call" policy, she offered to take our name and phone number and get back to us. During this exchange, a teller named David came up and told us he was "tired of hearing from the Los Angeles Times" and wanted to stop the calls. We gave him a brief history of C.A.T.S. and of how its founder took Bank of America to court and won $1000.00. David thanked us for the information; we thanked everyone there for their help; and amid good wishes for a safe journey, we proceeded to the next checkpoint in our continuing quest for the elusive Wells Fargo Bank "Do Not Call" policy.
Checkpoint: Located inside Ralphs
18010 Chatsworth Street
Granada Hills, CA 91344
"Assistant Manager" Suzanne M. Schwary attempted to provide us with a copy of the "Do Not Call" policy; but after a call to Customer Service, she admitted that she couldn't locate such a policy and asked us why we wanted it. We filled her in on the law and our previous attempts to get the document. Ms. Schwary suggested we contact the district manager, but before she could hand us the information it was yanked away by supervisor Charles R. Romas, who told us to "call Customer Service." We explained that we had called Customer Service (the "800" number), and that they told us to go to a branch. Mr. Romas became angry and berated Ms. Schwary in front of us (almost bringing her to tears), then disappeared in the rear of the branch. We gave poor Ms. Schwary the URL to our C.A.T.S. site and told her to e-mail us if her idiot supervisor gave her any further static. She thanked us. We give Ms. Schwary a "B" for browbeaten, while her supervisor gets a GREAT BIG "A" for...well, you can figure it out. Undaunted by the "Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager's" weight-throwing, we continued our unrelenting quest for the telemarketing world's Holy Grail, the Wells Fargo "Do Not Call" policy.
Checkpoint: Granada Hills Office
16830 San Fernando Mission
Granada Hills, CA 91344
We filled in "Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager" Peter G. Martany on all that we had experienced so far. Mr. Martany told us to call Customer Service. We said we'd already been there. He told us to go there again. We picked up the branch's courtesy phone and, after the customary 15-20 minute wait, spoke to "Customer Service Representative" Elena Diaz -- who then transferred us (after a 10 minute wait) to her supervisor, Joleen Swensson -- who transferred us (18 minute wait) to "Executive Office Specialist" Sandra Espinoza -- who actually apologized and offered to call us back as soon as she had information on their "Do Not Call" policy. [C.A.T.S. note: We're still waiting for the call.] After speaking with Ms. Espinoza, I asked Mr. Martany how an "Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager" could give such a terrible level of customer service. He threw us out. Undaunted, we continued our quest for the rarest document on the face of the planet.
Checkpoint: Lyon and Orchard Branch
(Located inside Ralphs)
24860 Orchard Village Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91321
When we asked "Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager" Sean Perrin for a copy of Wells Fargo Bank's "Do Not Call" policy, the unthinkable happened. . .he knew what we were talking about! Mr. Perrin admitted that "in a former life" he had been a charity telemarketer, and that he was aware of the Federal law. His curiosity aroused, he promised to call us as soon as he could find out the bank's position on the issue of their "Do Not Call" policy. Several days passed. When we still had not heard from Mr. Perrin, we called him. A co-worker told us that Mr. Perrin had been ordered "from the top" not to respond to our query. Of the 10 branches we visited, Mr. Perrin gets the highest score for caring and customer service. Too bad Management silenced him.
On February 22, 1999 -- almost two months after our initial request -- we finally received a copy of Wells Fargo Bank's "Do Not Call" policy. It was faxed to us from Texas by vice president Brian Schoolcraft. The policy had no effective date, so it's anybody's guess as to when it was written.
We sent the policy to telemarketing expert Robert Bulmash of Private Citizen Inc., and asked him if the policy met Federal standards. Here's his reply:
"I read it over.
1) No mention of how long a 'Do Not Call' Request is to remain in effect.
2) Last sentence, 2nd paragraph, implies recovery only when 'Do Not Call' Request is violated.
3) No mention of time-of-day restrictions.
4) No mention that a copy of their 'Do Not Call' Policy must be available upon demand.
5) No indication of what information must be contained on their 'Do Not Call' List.
6) No mention of when the 'Do Not Call' Request must be entered on the 'Do Not Call' List.
7) No mention that affiliates must be notified of 'Do Not Call' Request if specified by resident.
8) No mention that 'Do Not Call' Requests are protected from unauthorized disclosure to 3rd parties."
founder Robert Arkow thanks all the supporters who called Wells
to help with this project. Legal action is now pending, and we will
keep you informed. Thanks again!
Legal Disclaimer: The above information has not been proven to be true and accurate. The statements are allegations only. C.A.T.S. suggests that you attempt for yourself to get a copy of Wells Fargo Bank's "Do Not Call Policy" and form your own conclusions. Wells Fargo Bank can be reached at (800) 869-3557. If you want to bypass the automated prompts, hit the "*" (star) key several times. Eventually you will be transferred to a real operator, and a "courteous" Wells Fargo Bank representative will assist you. Good hunting!!