Where is Wells Fargo?

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June 5, 2008 10:33 a.m.

Sunday morning TPM reader Ellen posted a letter she said she had received from Wells Fargo, responding to my earlier post about a customer who was the target of some very sharp dealings. The “facts” in Ellen’s post — the customer’s divorce, her repeated solicitations for the loan, Wells Fargo’s efforts to help by paying off her credit cards — put a very different light on the story. So I got in touch with the lawyer who had originally written to me. The lawyer rechecked the facts with the client, and there are no ambiguities. The client has never been married, and there was NO credit card payoff. The counter-story is simply not true.

Ellen posted a fake. Did the fake come from Wells Fargo? Was it from someone else? I assume Ellen has more information about who it came from and how the person found only her. She can decide what to do with that information. And, if Wells Fargo has something it wants to say about its car lending practices, it is certainly welcome to post.

Some people have asked if the lawyer is real. This isn’t some literary device. Some have said the Wells Fargo numbers don’t add up. I agree, if you assume a normal loan with ordinary fees and interest. But that was the point of this post. Wells Fargo paid off a 3% loan, added some cash, and charged 16.24% and a bunch of fees on the whole mess. I asked the question whether this kind of transaction should be legal (as it is now), made illegal (as it could be), or whether there are “nudges” that could be built into the system to steer people away from these loans without banning them outright.

I don’t know why someone needed to make up numbers to try to tell a good story for Wells Fargo, but the story isn’t true.

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