Wells Fargo Email Fail


by Samuel Greengard

Technology is only as good as its ability to function in the real world.

Over the last few months, I've spent at least three hours in my local Wells Fargo branch and on the phone trying to resolve a glitch. Last year, Wells Fargo announced that it would offer ATM customers the ability to receive receipts by e-mail. Great idea! This approach is green, there's no paper to hunt down around my house and I have an electronic record in my computer. Score one for Wells Fargo.

Except that I have separate checking accounts for personal and business use. The ATM gives me the option of receiving an e-receipt for my personal account but not for my business account. So, after spending all this time trying to get things straightened out the branch manager tells me that there appears to be no way to receive an e-mail receipt to a secondary account because the system isn't programmed to send e-mail receipts to linked secondary accounts.

Brilliant! I'll bet I'm one of only 6 or 7 people in North America with more than a single checking account!

I can't imagine that it would take more than changing a single line of code and about 3 minutes to correct this problem. But change rarely comes easy in the corporate IT world. A giant company is sort of like the brontosaurus -- thoughts take a while to get from the head to the tail of the beast.

I'm not trying to pick on Wells Fargo. The company's online banking, mobile apps and texting services are terrific. Truth be told, it's insanely easy to find all sorts of tech glitches across the corporate landscape.

The bigger problem is business and IT leaders who do not think through usability issues and real-world scenarios--and then, when a glitch occurs, they're too inflexible to fix them promptly.