Surprise! I got outstanding customer service from one of the giant monster megabanks

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If you listen to The Clark Howard Show or follow money expert Clark Howard, you know that big banks are a touchy subject. Clark routinely chastises the nation’s largest financial institutions for their customer no-service and what has proven to be a systemic pattern of taking advantage of customers, in some cases.

Anyone who’s watched the news over the past year-and-a-half knows this is the case, and public enemy #1 in the banking world right now is Wells Fargo. We’ve documented the bank’s transgressions extensively here on Clark.com.

But you can call me an outlier, because I’ve actually had positive experiences with the bank over a number of years.

Our Consumer Action Center, which provides free off-air financial advice 45 hours a week, gets calls all the time from employees at some of the companies that routinely make Clark’s naughty list. They’re calling to remind us that they’re just people trying to do their jobs the best that they can — even if they work at a company that stinks!

RELATED: How I lowered my cable bill by $50 a month

A positive customer service story at Wells Fargo

Now, before I get into this, I’m not saying that you should do business with a big bank. There are a lot of reasons why someone would either choose to embrace or shun them. I certainly have mine and you probably have yours.

I’m writing this simply because I believe in the power of great customer service and spreading the word when you receive it.

Here’s my story…

On August 4, I saw a charge from Spirit Air on my credit card that I didn’t recognize. Truth is, while I recently booked a Frontier Air sale I found about through ClarkDeals.com, I have not booked Spirit in quite a long time.

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I called up Wells Fargo to dispute the charge and spoke with a customer service representative named Katherina T.

Neither of us could figure out at first if this was a legitimate charge or not, so Katherina T. took it upon herself to put me on hold and search Spirit Air’s website to see if there were any clues there. She quickly determined that it’s an annual recurring charge from a subscription to the airline’s $9 Fare Club.

I apparently signed up for the service when my family needed to fly back home after my wife received medical treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

With my family dealing with a terminal illness for the entirety of 2017, I totally forgot about signing up back then. So on the one-year anniversary of me signing up, Spirit Air billed me $69.95, as they say they would on their website.

Clearly, it’s my fault for not remembering I had signed up and not cancelling in a timely manner. I’ve had a lot of other things on my mind since my wife’s passing. And to Spirit’s credit, they do post clear instructions for cancelling.

I explained all this to Katherina T. and said that I had not used the $9 Fare Club at all since late summer of 2017.

She put me on hold again, called Spirit herself and confirmed that this was, in fact, the annual recurring charge being billed, and — get this — she convinced Spirit to both cancel the subscription and reverse the charge!

I was told the whole thing might take a couple of days to process. Later that same day, I received this email…

wells fargo 2

Three days later, the charge was fully refunded!

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The amazing thing is that Katherina T. orchestrated the refund and the cancellation of the Spirit Air subscription without me even asking her for any favors. I honestly expected to get stuck with the charge since I was technically in the wrong.

This is, to my mind, a great example of somebody going above and beyond in her job. It’s truly one of the most superlative examples of customer service I’ve ever been party to.

You better believe I gave Katherina T. the highest marks and effusive praise in a customer service surveyed emailed to me a day after my interaction with her!

Kudos, too, to the Spirit Air rep who I didn’t speak with for not putting up a fight. That prevented this from turning into a protracted battle to cancel my $9 Fare Club membership.

Best of all, this whole great customer service experience went down while I was waiting for the carpool line to begin at my children’s school. Now if only everything in life were this easy…

I know my story is anecdotal and specific to me, but I think it’s kind of nice to hear a positive story about banks, particularly Wells Fargo, in this day and age.

Got beef with Wells Fargo? Not here!

Just for the record, I’ve never had beef with Wells and I’ve been with them since 2007.  I have three accounts (mortgage/credit card/checking) with Wells, having come into the fold when they absorbed my former bank.

I’ve never paid a penny in fees for banking with Wells. I use my checking account strictly for online bill pay and for the occasional physical check I write. There is a charge of about $15 when I need new checks printed up, but I don’t need them too often.

Looking forward, I am anticipating the bank may start trying to charge me in a few years after I pay off my mortgage and no longer have three active accounts with them.

Should that happen, I have two other accounts elsewhere — a separate online bank account with an online lender and a local credit union account. I keep liquid cash in the online bank account and only use the credit union because they’ll count my loose change for free.

The point is, I could easily switch all my bill paying to one of them and be done with Wells Fargo forever, should our relationship go south. It’s nice to have options.

But until further notice, I’m a happy Wells Fargo customer!

More personal finance stories on Clark.com:

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Theo Thimou About the author:
Theo has co-written several books with Clark Howard, including the New York Times #1 bestseller Living Large in Lean Times. As a single widowed parent of two young children, he strives to bring unique savings tips to men and women like him who must face life without their spouses. He can be reached at [email protected]
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