Wells Fargo on the Mission: ‘That neighborhood is a high crime area’

Concerned reader and resident Eric recently noticed that the Wells Fargo at 22nd and Mission quietly changed the hours of their ATMs to a new ridiculously inconvenient 8pm closing time.  Since we happen to live in a predominantly cash-only neighborhood when it comes to bars and restaurants, this makes it quite difficult for any Wells Fargo customers enjoying an evening out to avoid the $5+ penalty for using non-Wells ATMs (not to mention folks who work late and need to deposit checks).  After his repeated requests for an explanation from their @Ask_WellsFargo twitter program (which is for feedback on their ATMs) failed to shed any light on the issue, he finally found time to visit the branch to see what the deal was:

Turns out, they are turning off the Wells Fargo mission ATMs (22nd and Mission St / 16th Street and Mission St) at 8pm every night because of vandalism.  Their words “that neighborhood is a high crime area.”  But they are not actually closing the gates to protect their machines; they just have the screens say “out of service” as to make it appear that nothing unusual is going on.  They are also not publicly saying what the ATM hours are nor, not even to the 1800 numbers you call to Wells Fargo services.  In the main system, these ATM’s are listed as 24hr ATMs.  Amazing.

Took a while to get these actual answers when calling 1-800-869-3557 since everyone that I talked to had no notification that in the Mission, all ATMs have been closing at 8pm for the past 50days.  I am assuming Wells Fargo does not want this info getting out for even the twitter responses are “please follow us so we can send you a private message explaining the situation” which I obviously am not going to follow a bank’s twitter feed.  And what I found out from the branch, they say they have no control of the ATM hours.

Does Wells Fargo hate the Mission?  We followed this up yesterday by visiting the branch ourselves and were told by the manager that the individual branches have no control over the new hours and that the new times came down directly from corporate.  Add up all these facts and something definitely smells fishy.  It’s not merely the inconvenience of being unable to get cash after 8pm; it’s the inconsistency of the explanations that truly inveigles us.  If you’re trying to prevent vandalism, why aren’t you closing the metal gate to actually protect the ATMs?  Have they just given up on our neighborhood?

Also, given Wells Fargo’s recent history of scamming customers with “unfair and deceptive” overdraft charges and allegations that it illegally took advantage of mortgage customers during the subprime bubble, the idea that this is another calculated attempt by the bank to exploit its users out of some extra cash doesn’t sound so far-fetched.

So Wells Fargo, what’s going on here?

36 Responses to “Wells Fargo on the Mission: ‘That neighborhood is a high crime area’”

  1. Juanpablo says:

    If you get anywhere with this, tell them I want my five bucks back.

  2. HULK HOGAN says:

    It’s not vandalism, it’s people getting mugged and then forced to withdraw money, or getting mugged as soon as they hit up the machine.

    Another tidbit – even inside the banks at WellsFargo, the rules are different. The bank managers refuse to cash cheques or put waiting periods on deposits that go right through at the branches closer to the FIDI.

    I think the branch managers have a lot of freedom in terms of hours and policies. If they think that ‘negative elements’ in a neighborhood will take advantage, they can just change their policies.

    WellsFargo HQ probably doesn’t even know about it.

    • except that when they had to opportunity to claim that this was reason, they instead chose to blame it on “vandalism.” so, something’s not right here.

    • “The bank managers refuse to cash cheques or put waiting periods on deposits that go right through at the branches closer to the FIDI.”

      I smell bullshit. 16th and Mission is where I bank, and I cash checks there all the time. Yes, they put you through pointless ID hassle… and I give them hassle right back.

      And as far as I can tell, one of the three ATMs is always open until 11 PM. The real problem, there, is not vandalism, but panhandling directly in front of the ATM (which is illegal).

      • annoyed with wells fargo says:

        It happens – I work with youth in an employment program – near the 16th and mission wells fargo. They have no problem cashing the checks of some of my youth (with 2 forms of ID, fingerprints and the 5$ charge) – but they refuse to cash the checks for other youth. This has happened numerous times. It seems even more ridiculous since our agency banks with wells fargo, so their logo is on the checks they are refusing to cash.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Hulk: That’s ridiculous. If you are getting mugged, the mugger won’t care if you’re using your own bank’s ATM. They could just walk you across the street to withdraw the cash from another bank’s ATM.

    • Johnny Fargo says:

      i know a little about this subject. hulk is correct, atm hrs will close early due to people getting mugged, etc. at the atms. no, they’re not going to tell you it’s because of a robbery or whatever. i’m sure they get vandalized to hell, too, but that’s not the reason why. a lot of branches don’t even service their own atms, it’s handled by brinks or another security co. the branches do not set their hrs either.

  3. bofa customer says:

    And yet Bank of America one block away manages to have 24h ATMs. I am a B of A customer (and frankly, kind of hate it) and that is one of the few things I appreciate.

    I left Wells Fargo for many reasons, but inconvenience was a big one.

  4. history lesson says:

    Some years back, but not yet ancient history, a man was dragged off into the alley from that ATM and beaten to death with baseball bats. As I recall, this was while his girlfriend watched, helpless. Wells Fargo subsequently hired guards to stand by the ATM, and reduced the hours. Over time it seems they’ve moved back toward normal hours, but maybe something ominous went down. Honestly, this is a deadly serious issue, and worth remembering with some respect when moaning over inconvenience.

    • GG says:

      A serious issue, indeed. The SF Board of Supes should move to close all ATMs, as a matter of fact. Everyone should be required to walk into their bank, in-person, on weekdays between the hours of 9am and 4pm if they would like to withdraw cash.

      Life is risky. Driving a car means some people will die in crashes. Living in an urban environment means you might get robbed. Eating steak means you might die of heart disease. Swimming in the ocean means you might get sucked out by a riptide and drown. Having ATMs open 24 hours (or, at all) means they will sometimes draw crime. Our goal as a society shouldn’t be to achieve 100% safety — nor is that possible.

    • thefrederale says:

      That baseball bat murder in the early 90s was the ATM on 16th, not 22nd.

  5. JNM says:

    Something like 15 years ago someone got mugged at that corner (at the time there was only one ATM), then they decided on having the ATM closed in the evening (it used to be 24h before).

    Since that time the neighborhood (and that area of it) has evolved, there are now more ATM machines, I think at some point the made the hours longer and now for some reason they seem to be back to ‘sunset only’ hours.

    These ATM closing so early have been a major pain for years for WF customers that live or go out to this area.

    The ‘vandalism’ excuse is a bit BS: right across the street there is a non WF ATM that is open 24h and has been so for at least the last 20 years. Do you see it being vandalized? no!

    If anything I would argue that ATMs prevent more crime from happening because every ATM has a camera recording what’s going on. If I was a criminal I would avoid doing anything illegal in front of an ATM because you are being caught on video.

  6. drip says:

    the bank doesn’t give two shits about customer satisfaction in low-income, high-minority neighborhoods. they care much more about the possible bad publicity from people being mugged or killed outside their bank than they do about losing a bunch of customers with less-than-10k checking accounts and no mortgages.

    get a free account with fidelity and you can use any atm for free, including the atms in bars and restaurants (all fees are waived). using an atm in a crowded bar late at night is a lot safer than using one outside of a deserted bank.

    • drip says:

      also, this is an admittedly paranoid theory, but it’s true that with smaller accounts big banks look to make money by nickle-and-diming you with penalty fees. overdraft fees, someone-else-wrote-you-a-bad-check fees, late fees, and of course the you-used-someone-else’s-atm fees.

      if the bank was looking to maximize penalty fees in a low-income neighborhood they would have an incentive to limit atm access in an effort to get people to use other atms.

  7. Crowder says:

    fairly certain these started “closing” at 8PM a long time ago. Are we sure this is news?

    • YAR! says:

      I’m sure. It’s new.

      • GrizzledMission says:

        Maybe it changed, but it closed early in the late ’90′s into the ’00′s at that branch. So this is more a return to form than some dastardly new development.

  8. ciff says:

    You should all leave Wells Fargo anyways. They invest in the private prisons company Geo Group, Inc.—the second largest private prison company in the world contracted by state and federal government agencies. Clearly, they are into making money off poor people and people of color in general…http://texascivilrightsreview.org/wp/?p=2069

    • marco says:

      Are you suggesting the US doesn’t need prisons?

      • derp says:

        Yes, that’s exactly what he’s suggesting. Further to that point, he’s obviously suggesting that rape and murder be made legal.

        • GG says:

          Believing that there should not be any prisons and having issues with turning over our prison system to a private, for-profit company are obviously the same thing.

  9. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

    Why does anyone even use banks like Wells Fargo anymore? Join a Credit Union… They’re non-profits, so they have no incentive to rip you off.

    My credit union even REFUNDS ME the anal-rape ATM fees that other banks charge when I use their ATMs.

    • Stu says:


    • ride bikes says:

      As does the Charles Schwab Investors Checking account, which doesn’t require any investments. Best of all, they also refund the foreign conversion fees so you don’t get doubly hosed when you are traveling abroad.

      And if Schwab rubs you the wrong way, the SF Fire Fighters Credit Union has basically the same deal, although I’m not sure about foreign conversion fees. http://www.sffirecu.org/rates-fees/general-disclosures/fee-schedule

      • MrEricSir says:

        I’ve switched over to Schwab and it’s awesome. You still need another bank if you want to cash checks easily, but for withdrawing money it’s fantastic. Every ATM in the world is yours to use for free!

        Of course this tends to be a promotional thing — other banks have done this in the past. But it’s always worth switching to whoever is doing this to get the most convenience.

  10. Ben says:

    Yes! to echo the comment above, SF Fire Credit Union not only refunds ATM fees, but they are also fantastic people to interact with!

  11. Joshua says:

    this is the 21st century, we have no use for corporate banks anymore. UP THE PUNXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  12. mm_fan says:

    welcome to, like, 8 months ago.

    “MissionMission, putting the Retro back in Retroactive”

  13. Dan says:

    This sucks. As does your use of the word “inveigle.”