When you call or stop in at a bank, you’re likely not shopping for overdraft insurance, travel insurance or another credit card. But Wells Fargo employees are likely to try to sell you one because the bank has a quota system that has “battered employee morale and led to ethical breaches, customer complaints and labor lawsuits,” according to a Los Angeles Times investigation. Thirty Wells Fargo employees in California were recently fired for “cheating” on the goals. The Times reports employees opened unneeded accounts for customers, ordered credit cards without customers’ permission and forged client signatures on paperwork.
Bank employees who say they’ve had enough sales goal pressure protested Monday outside Wells Fargo corporate headquarters in Minneapolis and then tried to hand deliver a petition with more than 10,000 signatures calling for the bank to change its practices.
Former Wells Fargo workers told the Times that bank supervisors said employees would “end up working at McDonalds” if they did not meet quotas. Protesters in Minneapolis called for “access to full time, stable employment.”
Protesters say education, humanitarian aid suffers from Wells Fargo policies
Reducing Wells Fargo’s sales goal pressure was only one of several banking reforms protesters would like to see.
You might not think bank policy has an impact on education, but the St. Paul Federation of Teachers (SPFT) says it does. When the bank forecloses on rental properties, some tenants aren’t told until the eviction notices arrive. “Landlords continue to collect their rent from their renters even though they know they’re going into foreclosure and then they give the families one or two days and tell them they’re going to be evicted. This causes so many problems with our students in school,” said SPFT President Denise Rodriguez. She says when students’ home lives are disrupted, they don’t do well in school. Rodriguez wants Wells Fargo to recognize the disruption to students’ lives and work with teachers and the community to make changes to their foreclosure practices.
Members of the Somali community want Wells Fargo to work with them to address the issue of money transfers to family members in Somalia. Wells Fargo, like all other major banks in Minnesota, will no longer work with the money service businesses that are the only practical method to send financial support to East Africa. The livelihood of millions of Somalis depends on these remittances – to feed themselves, for kids to go to school, and to get medical attention.
“This is a crisis affecting our families and we need a resolution as soon as possible,” said Sadik Warfa of Minneapolis. “Wells Fargo has the opportunity to take a leadership role in solving a humanitarian crisis and we have come here today to ask them to do just that.”
Wells Fargo’s response
The bank insists it does not try to sell products or services to customers they don’t need. In an email to The Guardian, Wells Fargo spokeswoman Richele Messick wrote:
“We place a high priority on ethical business practices and a culture of doing what is best for our customers. It is in Wells Fargo’s best interest for customers to purchase only the products they need and benefit from – that’s what keeps them coming back for more for a lifelong relationship.”