Friday, July 22, 2005

Might be time to watch 'The Net' again

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Wells Fargo Bank just launched a new security service, which in one of those great marketing ploys, you automatically get, unless you tell them to cancel it.

With all their customers, if even a small percentage throw away the letter - and get charged for a couple of months before they cancel - well, the bank will make a tidy profit and some vice president will get a bonus for thinking up the scheme.

But the kicker is that the security service - which customers have to pay for as an extra spiff on accounts - was set up after the bank lost all kinds of data in a theft.

Create a problem and then charge your customers for the problem. It sort of like Chevron dumping a load of crude oil on your lawn and then charging you for the cleanup.

The full story from the San Francisco Chronicle is here:
  • Wells Fargo wild ride

  • In the 1990s, Sandra Bullock starred in a movie called "The Net," which because it was little early in the information-theft game, didn't get the play it probaby should have. But it immediately came to mind when I read the Wells Fargo story today, because the plot of the movie is so eerily similar to what the bank has done.

    Life imitating art? (If Sandra Bullock movies can be called art. The jury is still out on that issue.)

    I once banked with Wells Fargo and found their service to be so awful and generally rude that I cashed out with them and moved around, finally landing at a credit union run specifically for state employees in California.

    But today, I'm glad what little cash I have is not riding around in the Wells Fargo stagecoach, or in their computers. Or that I have to read all their come-ons carefully to avoid paying for services I don't want.

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