Monday, October 17, 2011

Wells Fargo IRA Transfer Bug

Apparently my real world job in quality assurance has bled over into my everyday life as I managed to uncover a pretty frustrating issue with Wells Fargo's banking and brokerage website. Before I note the bug, let's set the stage and background...

I have my personal checking, business checking/savings, taxable brokerage, IRA, Roth IRA, and a mortgage with Wells Fargo, so I have a significant amount of involvement with their financial offerings. For a couple years I've had an automatic monthly transfer set up to take a set amount of money from my personal checking and contribute it to my Roth IRA. At the beginning of the summer I wanted to change that contribution amount, so I went through their website to update the contribution amount. Everything went swimmingly... or so I thought.

This last month as I was checking my statements closer, I noticed that for the last few months there were TWO transfers from my checking to my Roth IRA, one for the old amount and one for the new amount. This would explain why my personal checking felt like it was getting pinched. I wasn't wasting more money on Papa Murphys and comic books, but instead Wells Fargo was transferring more than twice what they should. I tried to rectify this by going into my online account to see what was up. Apparently the "change" to the contribution amount just created another monthly transfer and left the previous one in place. That appears to be DEFECT #1.

This quickly led into DEFECT #2. As I attempted to cancel one of the two automatic monthly transfers, I was given a dreaded red error message saying the website is incapable of handling the request. Thinking it might be a browser thing, I switched from Chrome to IE with the same results. Time to call them up.

I called the phone number that was in the error message only to find DEFECT #3--the phone number directs you to a support number for a department that can't actually help with the issue. I had to get transferred to another department and after I made my way through a couple of representatives I was finally able to talk to someone senior to help me through my problem.

They advised me that you cannot cancel ongoing transfers to an IRA online. You have to come into a branch, sign a form, and then they can stop it. This seemed a bit ridiculous since I could create contributions online without needing to fill out a form. When I asked about this, the representative stated that actually, no, their systems since January of this year are incapable of allowing you to make or change contributions to IRA transfers. After I walked him through what I did and what I still had access to we noted that, as I had suspected, we found DEFECT #4.

After a bit of arguing about why it is somewhat dumb for me to come in and sign a form so they could key in the cancellation of future transfers that have yet to occur when I'd already given them more personal identifying information over the phone than I would on a form, all of my automatic transfers were canceled. For the immediate future I'll just make one-time manual transfers to my Roth IRA since it seems like Wells Fargo's online transfer system doesn't have all the kinks worked out of it after merging in Wachovia's system.

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