Wells Fargo’s been my bank ever since I stepped foot in California nearly 30 years ago. That’s about to end. But not for the reasons you might think.

I’ve used Wells Fargo for a mortgage, an equity line of credit, personal banking and business banking for decades. While none of the scandals that have seriously tarnished the bank’s image in recent years have affected me, there’s been a noticeable change in the banking experience.

Over the past decade or so, whenever we try to get something that should be relatively straightforward done with them, it always seems to turn into a bureaucratic nightmare that ends up blowing up in our faces. I’m sure regulations are a pain, but much of what I’ve witnessed has nothing to do with that.

Ever since I started my business 15 years ago I’ve had an equity line of credit with Wells Fargo. Since my consulting income varies quite a bit from month to month but the bills keep coming no matter what, it helps to have a credit buffer to pay the bills. Interest payments are automatically deducted and we zero out the balance annually.

A few months ago we hit the end of life of our current line of credit, so I figured it was time to apply for a new one. Since we own our home, have zero debt, have about the highest credit score you can have and the credit line we need is small – not even 10% of the equity in our home – it should have be a slam dunk. Not a chance.

They put us through hell for like two months. They had me scanning and uploading years of personal and partnership tax returns. I had to fill out and cough up every kind of document you can imagine and some you can’t. They badgered me with countless calls, letters and emails. And after all that, they ended up rejecting the application.

Why they turned me down, I have no idea. It should have been about the easiest and least risky loan to underwrite. It makes absolutely zero sense. But they did it. I talked to the person in charge of loans at the local branch I’ve been going to for decades. She didn’t seem to have a clue either. If she did, she wasn’t talking.

You know what the strange thing is? For the first time I got the distinct feeling that nobody at the bank I’ve been giving my business to for decades seemed to give a crap about whether I’m a satisfied customer or whether I stick around or not. So that’s it. Put a fork in me, I’m done with Wells Fargo.

The irony is, when ex-CEO John Stumpf got raked over the coals on capitol hill in 2016 I thought he got a bad shake. More than once I defended him and Wells Fargo on my FOX Business column. Of course I stand by that – I never let personal matters get in the way of business – but still. At the time, I didn’t think the brand deserved the drudging it got. Now I’m not so sure.

Image credit Mike Mozart via Flickr

  • They pulled the same stunt on my company and a long running LOC before the 2009 crash, but turnabout is fair play. I stopped doing business with them a year later. The “traditional” banking industry is about to get upended in ways unimaginable with cryptocurrencies. You would think they would be begging for your business, but they can’t see further than next quarters profit reports, and that is why that covered wagon will soon disappear into the sunset…forever.