Archives for May 7, 2008


Where the hell is Wells Fargo? Out on the dusty trail, I presume

UPDATE: See this post for final resolution that came in a phone call from a Wells Fargo executive.

Here’s a superb lesson in how not to manage your customer relationships and, especially, solve their problems.

What if your business was dependent upon online ecommerce and one of the processing chain providers cancelled your account without telling you, while the organization that owns the relationship and process cordially ignored you?

That’s what happened to us, and the big problem lies with our prime relationship, Wells Fargo, and how they dropped the ball (or stuff off the stagecoach if you like that metaphor better) and have not helped me resolve the problem in any way.

There’s a reason Wells Fargo uses a stagecoach as their symbol since it’s illustrative of the state of their leadership in merchant services…more aligned with the 1800’s than the demands of business in the 21st century.

After six years of successful ecommerce running on one platform, our hosting company let us know in January they were pulling the plug March 31st. So we made a change, rebuilt our site on a new platform in the first quarter, and launched the third week of March before the old one went dark.

Our new platform required us to set up a new processing gateway (really the whole chain from payment gateway to back-end credit card processing with a third firm to bank and the money then in our account). I chose my personal and commercial banking company, Wells Fargo, since I trusted them. The bonus was there would be a single relationship point, they could set up the payment gateway with partner and the back-end processor, and it was actually less expensive then us going direct with the latter.

But it suddenly stopped working two and a half weeks after we launched.

For the first few weeks we received “successful transaction” settlement reports from and credit card orders were processing fine…and the last couple of weeks my staff flagged me that there were zeroes on these settlement reports. Since many people order by phone or fax even today — and our sales weren’t suffering dramatically and we didn’t have a mass mailing going out until this past Monday — we initially assumed it was the economic downturn, people getting acclimated to the new site and so on.

Yesterday two customers called about credit card payment failures on our site. I went online and tried two purchases myself with two different credit cards: they both failed. Digging in at, I was stunned to see dozens of failed transaction attempts.

You won’t believe what I’ve gone through to get this problem resolved and no, it’s still not fixed at 3pm CDT.

UPDATE as of 6pm CDT: See the resolution at the bottom of the post.

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