Wells Fargo denies customer claim of aggressive sales tactic


If you are a customer of any financial services company, you are fresh meat with a target on your back for additional sales. It’s called share of wallet.

Consider Kathy Daboush’s recent experience as a Wells Fargo Bank customer. A few weeks ago she went into a Santa Ana branch. She was there to wire her deposit to an escrow company for the duplex she and her husband, Eli, were purchasing as an investment property.

According to Kathy, the clerk introduced her to a loan officer who was sitting right there (strategic seating?). The loan officer (Wells names them home mortgage counselors) tried to engage Kathy with a Wells mortgage for this purchase. Kathy declined since she already had applied elsewhere.

The next day the home mortgage counselor called Kathy again to sell her on the Wells loan. She declined again. Then the home mortgage counselor called Kathy’s husband.

“I was so infuriated when I told the guy no. He didn’t like the answer. He calls my husband,” she said. “They always just try to sell you something.”

The mortgage counselor engaged her husband Eli with a very attractive quote that caught his interest. The Daboushes learned later the Wells quote was not accurate for a non-resident duplex purchase transaction.

Wells spokesman Tom Goyda disputes Kathy’s account.

“There is nothing improper our unusual here,” he said. Goyda maintained there were differences between Kathy’s account and the account given by Wells employees, but declined to go into specifics.

Given the recent fake account scandal and fallout, I would think Wells folks would stay 10 bank branches away from anything that hints of assertiveness on steroids.

“They stepped over the line of good business practices when they continued to contact her husband when she made herself perfectly clear,” said Beth Givens, executive director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Wells spokeswoman Lisa Woolery said, “Bankers have to have customer agreement to be referred.” She explained that Wells has eliminated all branch referral incentives in October. Woolery would not say if there are quotas or incentives for mortgage loan counselors.

She said a Wells representative will reach out to Kathy but declined to say how Wells plans to address her complaint.

Always shop around for your mortgage on your terms. Consider past loan officers who provided good service, referrals from people you deeply trust and your real estate agent.

Be cautious when someone provides you an unsolicited offer. Financial services companies have all kinds of intelligence on you to pitch you something they think you might want.

Mortgage lenders know when you are mortgage shopping because credit agencies sell notifications when you’ve had your credit pulled. This is called a mortgage trigger.

You may also receive a prescreened offer of credit. In both cases, you can stop these unwanted offers by going to optoutprescreen.com, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

If you have questions or comments, please contact Jeff Lazerson by clicking here.

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Jeff Lazerson - Mortgage Columnist since 2011