A funny thing happened at Wells Fargo. I mean, it’s only funny if you think that having a Wells Fargo banker set up a business checking account without your knowledge is fun or funny.
Recently I incorporated my business. After incorporating one of the most important things you can do as a business is set up a bank account. Since we’ve been customers of two banks who have been taken over by the feds, I heeded my friend’s advice and went to set up a business account somewhere that I don’t have a personal checking account.
I went to Wells Fargo.
I walked in and sat down with a banker and we talked about the different checking options they had for me. She explained that if I got a checking account and a savings account and there was $100 transferred from checking to savings each month I could have the accounts free. “No thank you.” I told her, “I see that as a recipe for disaster. What if I don’t work every month?” She explained that she could set it up so that $100 was transferred back every month on the same day, she told me people do it all the time. I should trust her, she said. I asked for my paperwork back, she said, “Just a moment.”
She continued typing and then explained to me that she could offer me free business checking, it was very simple. I sat back in my seat and relaxed while she typed some more. She asked me to sign my name on a little electronic pad, twice, and I did. And then she told me all about the accounts she could offer me since I held a mortgage with them.
“This is a corporation and not my personal banking, there’s no reason for it to be linked with my mortgage,” I told her.
“If your social security number is on it they are automatically linked.” She replied.
“But my social security number shouldn’t BE on it. It’s a corporation and there’s an EIN number for that.” I fairly screamed at her.
She shrugged and dialed a number, and then handed me the phone. A gentleman from Wells Fargo corporate explained to me that this happens all the time and I’d just have to set up my online banking so that a CPA or bookkeeper wouldn’t see certain parts of the linked accounts.
I set up a corporation so that my family’s finances wouldn’t be linked to my business, and setting up a checking account with Wells Fargo was about to link them together permanently.
“I really need to leave now.” I said to her, “Can I please have my paperwork back?”
“I need to give you your checks first.” She said.
“I’m not going to be setting up the account.” I said, “It doesn’t really suit my needs.”
“You already did.” She deadpanned.
Apparently the signatures on the little electronic pad automatically insert your signature into a contract and set up accounts for you. I AM NOT KIDDING. Apparently this “banker” had set up both a savings and checking account for me without my ever having seen a piece of paper, a contract or a flier.
Between clenched teeth, I muttered. “Undo it. Now.”
“If I do that it counts against me. Twice.” She opened her eyes extra wide and fluttered her glittered lashes at me.
“That’s going to suck for you then.” And then I raised my voice loud enough for the people waiting in line to hear, “How dare you open an account in my name without my express permission. On what planet do banks open up accounts without presenting people with paperwork? And since we’re at it this isn’t a personal account, it’s a corporate account and you’re trying to ruin me financially so you can get a fifty cent bonus…”
And then the manager showed up.
And the accounts were closed.
But it was an hour of my life, and it could have been financially devastating.