Wells Fargo Center in Los Angeles, California

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Just a half mile away, at this very moment, hundreds of disaffected and angry protesters are taking part in Occupy Philadelphia, an offshoot of the Occupy Wallstreet movement in New York. The protesters are seeking some corporate culpability in the American financial landscape. While I applaud their dedication I had to wage a very different battle with Wells Fargo, a major player in the economic collapse and subject to multi-billion dollar class action lawsuits for their illegal lending practices.

In short: They screwed up my paycheck. I went to the ATM, deposited the check, checked my balance, and went on my merry way. The next day? The funds were withdrawn and the record of the deposit deleted.

This has happened to me once or twice and I’ve made some phone calls about the inconvenience. Usually the calls end with the person on the other end of the phone shrugging their shoulders. So I started doing something very important that every protester, corporation and human being needs to do, but rarely does: I started keeping accurate records of my transactions.

So at the ATM I used Wells Fargo’s option to send my receipts to my Wells Fargo online banking inbox. I had a digital record of the date, time, ATM code and transaction number, as well as all my balance information.

I called the Wells Fargo 800 number to complain and they assured me that removing a balance once its been placed is NOT typical business practice. So I called the branch, they tried to feed me a line that because of the way bank days work out I had not actually deposited my check. But then why did I have a digital record of the balance? They said tried to tell me that the balance in my receipt did not reflect my account balance.

But I had withdrawn cash right afterword and forwarded THAT receipt to my Wells’ Inbox as well. That transaction showed my withdraw reflected in the previous balance from the deposit.

They were stuck but still trying to say, “Oh well. Nothing we can do.”

And then I dropped the bomb: Its because of practices and customer service like this that I waged my complaint against YOUR BRANCH with the BBB just an hour ago.

Suddenly I was speaking to the bank manager, who had gone to the ATM and retrieved my physical check. He fixed my account balance and fast tracked my deposit. He also returned my overdraft fees and issued me an apology for what was, “A clear banking error and definately not typical business practice for Wells Fargo.”

Am I closing my account? Yes.  As soon as possible. Did I win against Wells Fargo? Yes. They tried to force an overdraft by shifting the post time of my balance. But I kept records that the balance had already posted- and knew they were not allowed to change that. I leveraged my power by using the BBB.

And I was persistent. I walked away with a clear victory over predatory bankers, my paycheck, and a it is a win for my friends down at City Hall today, protesting just this type of extortion.

I did more with persistence, process and paperwork than I could ever have done by shouting. I beat Wells Fargo.

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