When I first met my wife’s family her father took a liking to me, since we were in similar industry. I was working as a loan officer at a mortgage company, and he was an executive at Bank of America. He used to tell me classic banking stories. He told me about when Wells Fargo bought and absorbed First Interstate. The ATM conversion was performed on a holiday weekend. When it failed, millions of people were stuck for the long holiday weekend without funds. That bank merger is THE BOOK of how NOT to do a merger, as they made so many public relations fiascoes.
Another time he told me a story about a guy in California that had been wronged by Wells Fargo (do you sense a pattern). He called the bank’s toll-free numbers looking for somebody to help him out, only to get rude reactions and dismissals. He escalated the problem and went through all the proper procedures in getting relief.
At wits end the guy files a claim against Wells Fargo in his town’s Small Claims Court. He had saved all of his paperwork, documentation, and notes he took while trying to resolve his issue. Wells Fargo never even felt the need to show up. The guy won a summary judgment. I remember it not being too much money, but enough to satisfy him from whatever Wells Fargo had cost him. He filed his win and waited for the check from Wells Fargo.
He sent his claim in through the proper channels, and never heard from Wells Fargo. Speaking to the local bank manager and calling all the toll-free numbers again got him nowhere. Finally out of desperation he filed something called an Order of Examination. This will cause a court hearing to be set and is like a subpoena. Once you have filed the Order of Examination, you can ask the court to grant you money, and I'm pretty sure that you can even set up a levy against them.
Well, the process takes a long time, the guy was persistent and followed through on everything. The court awarded him the previous award and all expenses of trying to collect on the debt. All the court stuff went smooth, because Wells Fargo kept ignoring the guy and his claims, and never showed up to any of the court sessions.
After enough of this, he filed to seize a piece of Wells Fargo property equal to or greater than what he was owed. The idea was to get something worth a little more than what he was now owed, sell it, and give Wells Fargo the remainder, after all the fees, costs, and trouble as was ordered by the court.
He followed through the process and won again. When doing this kind of deal, where you claim ownership of a piece of some corporate property, you have to be very specific on what item you lay claim to. The only problem remaining was the location, he was in southern California and Wells Fargo was based in San Francisco, and at this point he wanted to make a statement as well as collect his settlement.
The guy times everything, so it was convenient for him. He planned everything and everyone necessary for when he would be in San Francisco.
He shows up to the main branch of Wells Fargo in San Francisco with a contract engineer, and contractor with tools, a Sheriff's deputy, and his claim. As they enter they were hardly noticed. What the heck, this is San Fransisco. The contractors set down their concrete saws and equipment and pulled out measuring tapes and started measuring the doors, the walls and the bright shiny Wells Fargo Stagecoach in the lobby.
Finally a security guard wanders over and asks what’s going on. The guy with the deputy standing next to him explains he has a claim on the Wells Fargo Stagecoach in the lobby, and by law it now belongs to him. Yup, he now legally owns the Wells Fargo Stagecoach within the main branch of Wells Fargo in downtown San Fransisco. At this point the contractors realize the doors are not wide enough to remove the Wells Fargo Stagecoach, so they start to mark the wall with chalk and tape. They are going to have to cut a giant hole in the wall to get the guys Wells Fargo Stagecoach out, so the new owner could take it back to Southern California. I don't know if the guy really intended to take the Wells Fargo Stagecoach back to Southern California, but this is when he finally started to get their attention.
The baffled security guard asks what the contractors are up to, and the contractors explain the size of the Wells Fargo Stagecoach and the bank's doors, and how they were going to cut the wall open to retrieve the Wells Fargo Stagecoach for the new owner. The guard gets the bank manager.
The bank manager argues all of the claims are warrantless. The guy produces all of the proper documents and is backed up by the deputy. All the legal stuff was over, and this was the day the Wells Fargo Stagecoach was going to be removed. The Wells Fargo Stagecoach is indeed the property of this individual guy at this point in time and he wants to take it home. After all the time it took to talk to all bank managers, the contractors are now ready to start cutting the wall of the bank open.
The bank manager asked nicely for everybody to stop for a few minutes. The deputy tells the manager he doesn’t have to wait at this point, the bank had their opportunity, but skipped out on all the court dates. Nevertheless, the guy halts work, and tells the contractors to break for lunch. They wandered off in search of some chow in downtown San Fransisco.
The branch manager grabs the first guy he sees corporate level, and asks for help from upstairs. The corporate guy pleads that the bank has owned the Wells Fargo Stagecoach for almost a century, and there is no way this guy can possible own it. The guy and deputy produce the court finding and orders again. The corporate guy realized the contractors have stalled work while they get lunch. He calls upstairs then takes the elevator up to get directions from higher ranking corporate people. The corporate lieutenant talks to a senior corporate officers - vice presidents or something. He shows the court findings and orders. The senior guy has to call a corporate lawyer to confirm everything. He still thinks must be a mistake.
The corporate bank lawyer looks the paperwork over, and tells the senior corporate officer,
“Empower and send somebody down there immediately, and write the guy a check.”
The senior corporate officer asks the lawyer,
“How much should we limit our losses to?”
The lawyer said,
“Whatever the guy wants to get him to sell the stagecoach back to us, and go away. And, don’t even think of negotiating with him. He owns us right now.”
The lawyer then made it clear, how the guy had jumped through all the hoops, and he did indeed own the Wells Fargo Stagecoach . The lawyer pointed out to the officer of how it would look on TV when the media shows images of the guy retrieving the Wells Fargo Stagecoach through a giant freshly-cut hole in the wall of the bank.
The bank would be far ahead to cut losses now and write the guy a check for whatever he wants. The lawyer said he had to go, and when pressed why he could only tell them he has to prepare a tight purchase agreement for the Wells Fargo Stagecoach while the lieutenant is down writing the check.
A win for the little guy!
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