Customer Service with Vanguard

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fufgirl
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by fufgirl »

I have had to call Fidelity way more than Vanguard over the last several years, so this may have something to do with it- It seems in my experience I have occasionally had a negative interaction with someone at Vanguard and I have sympathy for the OP here- I have had times where a Vanguard rep acts like I don't know what I'm talking about even though I've been very clear and it is not really pertinent to my core issue. I have wondered if the point was to argue with me or resolve an issue. I admit, I wonder if it may have to do with being a woman (and if so, it is likely just a singular person's issue). However, that is a rare occasion at Vanguard, and it only comes to mind because I unfortunately had such an experience recently (which was still ended respectfully and with an actual answer/resolution). Several years ago, a tax form provided by Vanguard was incorrect, indicating one of several roth conversion from pre-tax 401k assets(from another custodian) was not taxable- was resolved in a week or 2 after only a single brief secure message. With Fidelity, the inverse has been my experience- When I actually get to speak to someone who doesn't steer me wrong and provide inaccurate and misleading information and/or attitude it is an exception. This may have to do with a difference between Fidelity's 401k department (not that I was impressed with Fidelity on the personal/IRA end either), and Vanguard's IRA department. I think its very telling that I seem to not be able to correspond with Fidelity via secure message regarding 401k matters. I don't know if Fidelity's 401k department is just so unorganized that they cannot answer questions about whether or not in-service rollovers are possible, how many are allowed per year, whether there is still a match on after-tax contributions....I could go on. (If you can't keep the customers' specifications straight, don't have so many then.) I have had to figure answers out to nearly all of my questions posed to Fidelity by just doing it and seeing if it were possible/what happened. In another thread, this resulted in a huge headache for me when Fidelity retroactively (nearly 12 months later) determined (with no official notification that wasn't prompted by me) that an in-service rollover shouldn't have been allowed. Ironically, I wasn't worried about this because I believed that surely the IT would be set up correctly and not allow something like this to happen(my bad). The guidance provided by Fidelity about what to do, and what would happen, particularly with gains that would be returned was contradictory and unclear (par the course). The address to return funds to provided in the letter sent out about the issue and on the enclosed envelope was not even the exact same (of course no reason provided by a rep "use the one on the envelope"). I think it is important to look at what they are both doing on the regular with regards to customer service/resolving issues that come up, how much they are (really) costing you, and what they stand for. I don't buy Fidelity's latest "0 fee funds" as anything more than a gimmick. Vanguard put the pressure on them all to lower fees from the beginning imo and that is a big cultural difference. If Vanguard is having more issues, I hope/believe they are temporary and a good sign for the long-term as they are just having growing pains.
OU812?
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by OU812? »

I'm going to add my voice as another 20+ year Vanguard investor who has seen customer service very rapidly deteriorate over the last two years as assets have exponentially increased. Over two months ago I went through the online wizard to initiate a $135k transfer from my Fidelity IRA to my Vanguard IRA. All went well and I got a successful message. A couple of days ago I got an email asking me to call to give more info(?). I called and was told the Fidelity account number was wrong (it wasn't) and had been rejected. When I insisted it was correct I was told maybe it was the wrong Fidelity(?). I was compelled to fill out a 10-page paper form and mail it in with a copy of my Fidelity statement, which I did the next day.

Three weeks later, having heard or seen nothing, I called again. The rep had a hard time even finding the request, then admitted that the notes he was reading made no sense and he had no idea what the status was. I thanked him and told him to forget about it, I was going to leave my money with a company that apparently cared about it. He still promised to have someone get back in touch with an explanation and apology. It never happened. So I went back to the Fidelity website and reinvested the $135k I had liquidated to cash, and I have no intention of ever trying to move it to Vanguard--unless someone at VG starts taking customer service seriously again. I attending the BH forum two years ago and shook Jack Bogle's hand as a true believer, never believing I would be writing a post like this so soon afterward....
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by RickBoglehead »

I found that Fidelity Net Benefits was awful. Had a major issue that they didn't care about (investment from employer being improperly categorized). I contacted Abby Johnson's office. They promised resolution, said it was fixed but it wasn't fixed. I finally got all parties on a phone conference and explained the issue to all of them, which was fixed when the third party processor's technical expert told Fidelity Net Benefits what to do. Took 5 months.

After being with Fidelity since 1987, I withdrew every penny after that, just as I promised I would when they repeatedly failed to fix the problem, emptied the account in Net Benefits, and once a year I empty the new contributions to Vanguard.

Yes, Vanguard has support issues. Every company does. My Flagship rep is always my point of contact because he gets the right answer or fixes the mistakes. I have a Vanguard solo 401K, and use him to add funds to it so it gets done.

My major issue with Vanguard is the lack of beneficiaries on joint brokerage accounts, which were on joint mutual fund accounts. Only matters if both individuals pass together, but it is pretty ridiculous.
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headedwest
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by headedwest »

I've been dealing with a cost basis error in my taxable account that Vanguard created when they converted VTIAX and VTSAX mutual funds into VXUS and VTI ETFs back in March. I discovered the error in June, and I've been calling them ever since. I call them every two weeks, and then mark my calendar to do it again. Not only is the cost basis about half of what it should be, the purchase dates for both ETFs were each lumped into one big buy in January 2018, even though the actual purchases date back to March 2017 and November 2016, respectively. (They used the date that did actually apply to VWO, the only one they converted correctly, and applied it to both VXUS and VTI.) So, besides my general frustration, I haven't been able to TLH because I can't use Spec ID. The customer service people just repeat whatever misrepresentation the cost-basis people spew, and then I explain to them why it's not true. There's no excuse for this kind of incompetence.

I've since moved my accounts to Merrill Edge, so Vanguard blames it on them, but it's clear where the fault lies. Two weeks ago, I gave Vanguard a specific name at ME for "resending" the corrected info, which made it easier for me to track. So, here's what they've been doing: Vanguard keeps "updating" the cost basis of VXUS in my Roth account, where it doesn't matter. Interestingly, they've done that four times for four different amounts, as of Friday. They've never updated VTI. (I had also asked Vanguard to send the updated information directly to me, which the customer service person agreed to do, but when I called on Friday, he said he later learned that wasn't possible. It didn't occur to him to convey that information to me until I called back.) I've actually sent Vanguard their own documents showing the actual transactions and the overall cost, but it hasn't seemed to help. I'm so angry with them, I'm looking for substitutes for their ETFs going forward. I want nothing to do with a company that clearly doesn't care about customer service. If I need to pay a little more or settle for slightly lower returns, it's worth it to me personally at this point.
arf30
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by arf30 »

I've been slowly moving accounts out of Vanguard after being spooked by a few bad customer service interactions. Last thing left to go is taxable brokerage with 2 mutual funds, but I'm scared to convert them to ETFs and deal with a cost basis nightmare. I'll probably still continue using their products, just not at Vanguard.
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by sschoe2 »

I haven't had much reason to use Vanguard customer service so it isn't a big issue for me. I have a taxable and RothIRA with a simple mix of index funds. I like their variety of funds and expense ratios. The one thing that concerns me is their not respecting general POA's.

My brother is thinking of starting an IRA (probably a backdoor Roth) and I am on the fence about recommending either Vanguard or Charles Schwab due to customer service and availability of brick and mortar branches near him.
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by neilpilot »

arf30 wrote: Tue Nov 13, 2018 9:05 am I've been slowly moving accounts out of Vanguard after being spooked by a few bad customer service interactions. Last thing left to go is taxable brokerage with 2 mutual funds, but I'm scared to convert them to ETFs and deal with a cost basis nightmare. I'll probably still continue using their products, just not at Vanguard.
As I'm sure you are aware, many brokers will accept Vanguard MFs in a transfer.
bltn
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by bltn »

I ve been with Vanguard for the lasr 20-30 years. I like the service I ve gotten. And, relative to the other large brokerages I ve had accounts with, I feel that the Vanguard people are the least interested in selling a product. The most objective, neutral help. Advice based on their studies or studies they ve reviewed, purely for the benefit of the client. Don t feel that way about the other brokerages.
Maybe I m too easy to please.
mouses
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by mouses »

oner wrote: Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:18 pm [Thread merged into here, see below. --admin LadyGeek]

I've been a customer for nearly 40 years.There is no question that the quality of customer service has declined. I often say that the best proof against evolution is the transformation of Vanguard's leadership in the past 40 years. On Thursday I called up (I'm in the Admiral class) and asked for someone in the retirement unit. The rep I got put me through the 3rd degree and when I told him why he still refused to transfer me. (He couldn't answer my question.) I then called again and got a supervisor. This person again put me through the 3rd degree, couldn't answer my question and refused to put me through to the retirement unit. If someone with my alleged status is treated like dirt, I hate to think how the "hoi polloi" are treated.
In my experience, the front line people are an solid wall in front of getting to a specialist dept that actually can do anything of use. I saw this when VG was screwing up a transfer for months. I could never speak to anyone actually in processing. It was clear that the problem could probably have been solved by direct communication, so it was really frustrating.
DB2
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by DB2 »

Had anyone encountered any issues with the wrong amounts showing in their accounts? On multiple occasions, I've logged in and have seen as much as an additional $130,000 error showing (wish it was true! ha) in my account. After refreshing the page once or twice, my true amount would then appear. This has happened to me several times. They are said to be looking into it, but something like this should never occur and it's kind of shocking to me.
JTColton
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by JTColton »

Timely thread, I just had a great experience with their CS. I'm deployed and have been having some account access issues. I called them on a sat phone from the middle of the ocean and in 15 min I talked to people in security, accounting and tech. Identity verified, issues were fixed, auto invest activated and optest was success. No complaints!
Nowizard
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by Nowizard »

As a long-time, low maintenance customer of Vanguard, I have never had any issue with the web site or service. Based on assets invested, we have an assigned person, but had never spoken to him in ten years (You can leave messages with your representative if busy or be routed to next available person) until randomly being routed to him for a recent transaction. Simply calling and taking whomever we have been routed to has been fine.

Tim
GmanJeff
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by GmanJeff »

No problems whatsoever here. Specialists are looped in while I'm still on the phone whenever necessary (e.g. the Transfer Dept. brought in to help move assets, Brokerage added on to the call to help with a transaction), and they follow up spontaneously a few days later to ensure I am not having any issues completing required paperwork and to inquire whether I need any additional assistance. Whenever I send a message through the messaging system, I receive either a written reply or a telephone call in response, almost always within a few hours.
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Crimsontide
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Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Crimsontide »

[Thread merged into here, see below. --admin LadyGeek]

I wish I didn’t have to write this, but someone must hold these folks accountable. Long story short, Vanguard customer service is horrible. We have been trying for the last 2 months to get my ex removed from my Vanguard accounts (I was awarded all Vanguard funds in our divorce). We are have had an amicable separation, thankfully, and have been working through the Vanguard issues together. It should have been a simple change of ownership issue but was blown way out of proportion [OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek].... We asked the same question from 5 different reps and got 5 different answers as to how to change ownership on a joint account to me only. I was finally able to transfer the funds to a new account opened in my name only and then closed the old joint account but after call after call and changing answer after changing answer. Once all these CDs mature, it’s off to Fidelity for me, [OT comment removed by admin LadyGeek]..
Last edited by Crimsontide on Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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whodidntante
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by whodidntante »

Those brokered CDs will probably transfer to Fidelity just fine, so I am not clear on why you are prolonging the pain. Jump ship!
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Crimsontide
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Crimsontide »

Good to know, I’ll check that tomorrow. Thanks!!!
sambb
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by sambb »

I wish it was a customer service failure, but it probably isnt. In actuality, given the IT and customer service issues, it might be a larger leadership failure. Leadership probably not concerned and that causes problems..
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

You could write a letter to the CEO of Vanguard. While he may or may not personally read it, I’m sure you would receive a response back from them. Sometimes a squeaky wheel gets a better response. Personally, I would have asked to speak with a manager or supervisor. Not sure if you tried that.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

Crimsontide wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:03 pm Good to know, I’ll check that tomorrow. Thanks!!!
Aren’t they closed tomorrow? It’s a national holiday.
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Crimsontide
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Crimsontide »

Yep, make that Tuesday.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by MikeG62 »

I’ve had customer service challenges at a number of financial institutions - pretty much all banks I deal with (including Ally). They are just completely inflexible in how they deal with customers. Initial level customer support clearly entry level employees.

The only institution where that has not been the case is Fidelity. Every time I call I get good service. If the person doesn’t know or can’t answer the question I am put on hold for a few minutes after which they return with a well reasoned answer. I am in the PC group, so I may be getting a higher level of service than other customers just calling in.
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Grt2bOutdoors
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Grt2bOutdoors »

MikeG62 wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:59 am I’ve had customer service challenges at a number of financial institutions - pretty much all banks I deal with (including Ally). They are just completely inflexible in how they deal with customers. Initial level customer support clearly entry level employees.

The only institution where that has not been the case is Fidelity. Every time I call I get good service. If the person doesn’t know or can’t answer the question I am put on hold for a few minutes after which they return with a well reasoned answer. I am in the PC group, so I may be getting a higher level of service than other customers just calling in.
Fidelity has plain good excellent service. I’m not in the Private Client group and have had the same exact experience. I also like that they have client service centers in NYC that you can walk into with knowledgeable representatives available to answer your question or handle paperwork (except when they try to sell me on multiple funds).
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by StandingRock »

MikeG62 wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 7:59 am I’ve had customer service challenges at a number of financial institutions - pretty much all banks I deal with (including Ally). They are just completely inflexible in how they deal with customers. Initial level customer support clearly entry level employees.

The only institution where that has not been the case is Fidelity. Every time I call I get good service. If the person doesn’t know or can’t answer the question I am put on hold for a few minutes after which they return with a well reasoned answer. I am in the PC group, so I may be getting a higher level of service than other customers just calling in.
I never had any problems with TD Ameritrade either. Not the most knowledgeable CS reps ever but always seemed eager to help and take whatever action they could.

I think with Vanguard maybe you get what you pay for, since they are the low cost leaders maybe you have to accept a slightly worse website and slightly worse customer service.

Although I have found that the simplistic website is growing on me, it makes it easier to find things than TD Ameritrade where I had to click through a lot of features I didn't ever use.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Sandtrap »

Have not had any problems with Vanguard either before Flagship Select level or after.
Keep trying.
.. . . .
However, Schwab, and especially TD Ameritrade, and Fidelity, are almost always very very responsive.
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HueyLD
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by HueyLD »

Vanguard is a great company for its products, but its customer service is only o.k. And Vanguard first level reps seem to not know anything beyond the 5th grade level. They can handle routine issues, but not non-routine ones. It appears that those who are satisfied with Vanguard service only contact Vanguard once every 20 years and only for routine matters.

I have sent email to the management group, but nobody bothered to reply. Maybe I should have sent a certified mail with returned receipt requested.

I rarely had to contact Vanguard for the first 20+ years, and then had to contact them for a non-routine matter. And all I can say is that their employees are not given common sense discretion to help the customers. I hope Vanguard management will learn that customer service, especially in a non-routine situation, can be beneficial for all involved (employees and customers).
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by RickBoglehead »

Every company has service issues, Vanguard is no exception. Inconsistency abounds. For those that laud Fidelity, others can post Fidelity issues. For those that praise Vanguard, others can post Vanguard issues.

The way to get what you want is a) get a dedicated rep and b) keep pushing.

A joint account at Vanguard must be transferred to an individual account, it cannot be retitled. Same occurs with a joint account when one owner passes away. Vanguard should have asked for a divorce decree or signoff from the secondary owner that the transfer was approved.
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dbr
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by dbr »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:34 am Have not had any problems with Vanguard either before Flagship Select level or after.
Keep trying.
.. . . .
However, Schwab, and especially TD Ameritrade, and Fidelity, are almost always very very responsive.
Why on earth would anyone do business with an organization that even in one instance can't execute a basic account transaction such as changing a joint account to an individual account as a consequence of a divorce? The only excuse is that there is some information missing here, but it doesn't sound like it. If a front line CSR doesn't normally handle such a transaction the workflow would be to connect the customer with a person who does handle such a transaction. By the way, opening a new account, transferring the assets, and closing the old account can be a standard way to do this.

Here is what Fidelity offers on this account. It seems one could do this online at Fidelity, but I have not actually done it: https://www.fidelity.com/customer-servi ... gistration
student
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by student »

In general, I had good enough customer service from Vanguard but I had only called a few times over the years on simple stuff. I would also agree that, based on my experience, Fidelity and Schwab are better. However, since they are now competing with Vanguard on cost, I think they will have to cut back and eventually their customer service will suffer.
david99
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by david99 »

I think that part of the problem is that entry level, customer service reps at Vanguard are not paid very well. I hope that Vanguard pays attention to threads like this and does something about it.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Sandtrap »

dbr wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:43 am
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:34 am Have not had any problems with Vanguard either before Flagship Select level or after.
Keep trying.
.. . . .
However, Schwab, and especially TD Ameritrade, and Fidelity, are almost always very very responsive.
Why on earth would anyone do business with an organization that even in one instance can't execute a basic account transaction such as changing a joint account to an individual account as a consequence of a divorce? The only excuse is that there is some information missing here, but it doesn't sound like it. If a front line CSR doesn't normally handle such a transaction the workflow would be to connect the customer with a person who does handle such a transaction. By the way, opening a new account, transferring the assets, and closing the old account can be a standard way to do this.

Here is what Fidelity offers on this account. It seems one could do this online at Fidelity, but I have not actually done it: https://www.fidelity.com/customer-servi ... gistration
Agreed.
That's why I also have brokerage accounts at Schwab and Fidelity.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by RickBoglehead »

dbr wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:43 am
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:34 am Have not had any problems with Vanguard either before Flagship Select level or after.
Keep trying.
.. . . .
However, Schwab, and especially TD Ameritrade, and Fidelity, are almost always very very responsive.
Why on earth would anyone do business with an organization that even in one instance can't execute a basic account transaction such as changing a joint account to an individual account as a consequence of a divorce? The only excuse is that there is some information missing here, but it doesn't sound like it. If a front line CSR doesn't normally handle such a transaction the workflow would be to connect the customer with a person who does handle such a transaction. By the way, opening a new account, transferring the assets, and closing the old account can be a standard way to do this.

Here is what Fidelity offers on this account. It seems one could do this online at Fidelity, but I have not actually done it: https://www.fidelity.com/customer-servi ... gistration
Can also be done online at Vanguard...

Remove yourself from a joint account

Removing an owner from a joint account is the process of changing account ownership. All assets that are currently held in the joint account in both owners' names will be transferred into an individual account in just one owner's name.

You’ll need to...

Select the account from which you’re removing yourself.
Provide Vanguard with the other owner e-mail address.
Review your choices and electronically sign the request.

The other owner has 14 days to...

Log on to Vanguard.com.
Go to My Messages to get important information about the process.
Verify his/her personal information and answer relevant questions.
Electronically sign to accept the request.
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dbr
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by dbr »

RickBoglehead wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:52 am

Can also be done online at Vanguard...

Remove yourself from a joint account

Removing an owner from a joint account is the process of changing account ownership. All assets that are currently held in the joint account in both owners' names will be transferred into an individual account in just one owner's name.

You’ll need to...

Select the account from which you’re removing yourself.
Provide Vanguard with the other owner e-mail address.
Review your choices and electronically sign the request.

The other owner has 14 days to...

Log on to Vanguard.com.
Go to My Messages to get important information about the process.
Verify his/her personal information and answer relevant questions.
Electronically sign to accept the request.
The CSR should have sent him a link to do the process online if he couldn't or wouldn't do it on the phone. Some customers don't like being fobbed off to a computer or don't have the means to manage it, but sometimes that actually is the best process.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by bondsr4me »

Sandtrap wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:50 am
dbr wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:43 am
Sandtrap wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:34 am Have not had any problems with Vanguard either before Flagship Select level or after.
Keep trying.
.. . . .
However, Schwab, and especially TD Ameritrade, and Fidelity, are almost always very very responsive.
Why on earth would anyone do business with an organization that even in one instance can't execute a basic account transaction such as changing a joint account to an individual account as a consequence of a divorce? The only excuse is that there is some information missing here, but it doesn't sound like it. If a front line CSR doesn't normally handle such a transaction the workflow would be to connect the customer with a person who does handle such a transaction. By the way, opening a new account, transferring the assets, and closing the old account can be a standard way to do this.

Here is what Fidelity offers on this account. It seems one could do this online at Fidelity, but I have not actually done it: https://www.fidelity.com/customer-servi ... gistration
Agreed.
That's why I also have brokerage accounts at Schwab and Fidelity.
Same here.
As the saying goes: "you don't get what you don't pay for".
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by marcopolo »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:08 pm
Crimsontide wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:03 pm Good to know, I’ll check that tomorrow. Thanks!!!
Aren’t they closed tomorrow? It’s a national holiday.
That's another great thing about Fidelity, you can call them 24/7 for customer service.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by nisiprius »

Rather than simply talk about "customer service" as good or bad, it might be interesting to compile a list of specific kinds of tasks that you'd expect "customer service" to be able to do, and try to form some group judgement about what brokerages have problems with which tasks.
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dbr
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by dbr »

nisiprius wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:37 am Rather than simply talk about "customer service" as good or bad, it might be interesting to compile a list of specific kinds of tasks that you'd expect "customer service" to be able to do, and try to form some group judgement about what brokerages have problems with it.
This thread contributes a first item to the list:

Execute a change of account from joint to single owner as a consequence of divorce.

The page I referenced from Fidelity https://www.fidelity.com/customer-servi ... gistration has a list of account transactions having to do with changing the name registration in accounts. It seems to be quite comprehensive.

A consideration is what actions could be taken online and whether or not one cannot also have a CSR do them by starting by calling in. Some transactions, such as closing joint accounts make take more than one step because two people are involved.
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goingup
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by goingup »

Frankly, I hope it's plenty hard to remove an owner of a joint account. It should require several gates to clear and backup documentation. That said, the process shouldn't be shepherded by incompetent CSRs. Sorry for your difficulties during a difficult time. :|
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aspirit
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by aspirit »

nisiprius wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:37 am Rather than simply talk about "customer service" as good or bad, it might be interesting to compile a list of specific kinds of tasks that you'd expect "customer service" to be able to do, and try to form some group judgement about what brokerages have problems with which tasks.
As almost always +1 :happy

So you get everything right? Sounds suspect right there!

I suspect your circumstances are unique. How many joint accounts, w/numerous VG reps are you hijacking?
I'd want proof, and more proof. Paperwork, bank seals, courts decrees, yadayadayada :wink: j/k :annoyed

Good luck!
Time & tides wait for no one. A man has to know his limitations. | "Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes it's laws" | — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild ~
pdavi21
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by pdavi21 »

You could transfer to another brokerage, take him off there, and stay there (or transfer back).

I always threaten to leave Vanguard when they pull this kind of stuff, but they are so oblivious, they don't even care. Maybe if I was Flagship or something.
"We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity." -Stephen Hawking
oysterboy
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by oysterboy »

I had never had a serious issue with Vanguard's customer service until 2 years ago. Over a 3-month period, I had several errors made by the back office operations. It took 5 weeks for the administrative errors to be corrected due to an overloaded back office staff, which my rep had warned might happen. I then experienced several problems moving some funds to my daughter's account and enabling her to distribute funds from that account. Many emails to Vanguard received boilerplate, non-action replies. Since that time, I have unfailingly completed every survey Vanguard sends out and declared that I am totally satisfied with their current cost structure of their funds and would greatly prefer that they allocate any further savings to better staffing rather than more cost reduction. My financial future is far more dependent on the avoidance of administrative mistakes than on another 1/100 of a percent in cost. If I have another serious problem, I intend to transfer to Fidelity, which does appear, from info here and from friends, to have a better-managed operation. I didn't do so earlier because of the perceived difficulty of doing so with multiple retirement and taxable accounts, which may not be true, and a certain amount of inertia after a 20+ year relationship.

I think the suggestion above of providing Vanguard with a summary list of high priority administrative weaknesses is a good one. I do wonder what the compensation model for excecutives at Vanguard is; i.e., is it based on increased assets under management, cost reductions, etc.
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Wiggums
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Wiggums »

nisiprius wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:37 am Rather than simply talk about "customer service" as good or bad, it might be interesting to compile a list of specific kinds of tasks that you'd expect "customer service" to be able to do, and try to form some group judgement about what brokerages have problems with which tasks.
+1000

I’ve had good experiences with three of the brokerage houses mentioned on here. They all have pros and cons to the user interface and services they offer. The good news is that you have the freedom to choose. No explanation needed. Threatening to leave or tweeting on the Internet is not required. It’s your money, your choice.

Running a call center is difficult on a good day. if the service is good, let the provider know. If the service is bad or you have an open issue, asked to speak to a Supervisor and give them the opportunity to make things right. If you truly want to make a difference, ask to be included in a focus group to discuss specific areas of improvement. I’ve participated on one of these with my cable provider. If you provide specific examples ahead of the meeting, you will get results.

Good luck to you
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by bondsr4me »

nisiprius wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:37 am Rather than simply talk about "customer service" as good or bad, it might be interesting to compile a list of specific kinds of tasks that you'd expect "customer service" to be able to do, and try to form some group judgement about what brokerages have problems with which tasks.
great idea....here's a few to start with:

1. how's about a chat system so we could avoid having to call...VG needs to get with it....we don't (at least I don't) use rotary phones anymore.
I know some will consider this to be an IT issue; but a chat system most always involves some type of CS issue or question or request.
this will also help with not dealing with the email system that seems to take days to get answers that sometimes go back and forth for days.

2. the back office really needs to get a handle on "cost basis" issues; at least from what I have read in this forum, VG is lacking in this area.

these are just a few to get started with.
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nedsaid
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by nedsaid »

HueyLD wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:38 am Vanguard is a great company for its products, but its customer service is only o.k. And Vanguard first level reps seem to not know anything beyond the 5th grade level. They can handle routine issues, but not non-routine ones. It appears that those who are satisfied with Vanguard service only contact Vanguard once every 20 years and only for routine matters.

I have sent email to the management group, but nobody bothered to reply. Maybe I should have sent a certified mail with returned receipt requested.

I rarely had to contact Vanguard for the first 20+ years, and then had to contact them for a non-routine matter. And all I can say is that their employees are not given common sense discretion to help the customers. I hope Vanguard management will learn that customer service, especially in a non-routine situation, can be beneficial for all involved (employees and customers).
It is odd that Vanguard funds being owned by their shareholders doesn't seem to cause management to listen. I don't know, if I was an employee of a company and the owner called, I would be all over whatever problem the owner wanted solved. My future employment would depend on it. Perhaps there is less to the mutual ownership structure of Vanguard than meets the eye.
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oysterboy
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by oysterboy »

A few more weaknesses to add to the list:
1. Effecting transfers of funds from one account to that of another and allowing the recipient to then transfer the funds to their checking account. Took 2 weeks to get the forms, execute them, send to my daughter in San Francisco, then from there to Vanguard and then to be processed. Then, no one notified me that this had been completed; I had to call twice to find out. I understand fraud precautions, but with voice verification and electronic signature capability, this was really irritating.

2. A general observation. As Vanguard rapidly grew, it failed to adequately staff for the size of its operations. For the past 3 years, its backroom operation has been periodically interrupted during heavy trading days, when other firms were not, and the correction of errors has taken an inordinate amount of time, on one occasion for me over a month, when it appeared to be a very straightforward adjustment.

3. The email system is beyond awful. I simply don't use it anymore. It generally takes more than a day to get a response, and then it is usually about 30 degrees off from effectively addressing the issue. I have found the Flagship reps (I never get mine on the phone unless I make an appointment) to have become more knowledgeable recently, and that's a good sign. But, a chat system would be far preferable to email. As for emails complaining about service issues, forget it; you'll only get some off-the-wall boiler plate reply.
02nz
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by 02nz »

Vanguard's indexing operation is great, the brokerage side is not great (I'm being kind here) when it comes to IT and customer service. I gave up on Vanguard last year after they made several screw-ups on basic things, and it took far too much effort from me to get them to fix these. My experiences at Merrill Edge, Fidelity, Schwab, and Chase You Invest have been much better (although not as long as I had with Vanguard). I still think Vanguard funds/ETFs are great, but best way to hold them is ... anywhere but Vanguard. With so many places offering free ETF trades, there's no real advantage to holding them at Vanguard.
btenny
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by btenny »

I figure that poor customer service is saving Vanguard $400 or so per Flagship customer. That is what it costs me in lost interest to stay at TDAmeritrade and Wells Fargo for my accounts. They mostly pay me lousy cash sweep rates and occasionally charge me to buy or sell something. But I get great customer service and a very knowledgeable agent to talk to 24/7.

So there are trade offs.
oysterboy
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by oysterboy »

Ah, I forgot to mention the Brokerage service. Two years ago, I called them, seeking help in setting up a 7 figure bond ladder. The summary advice I received was to go to Morningstar and pick out some bonds and call him back.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by DB2 »

My Vanguard account shows the wrong amounts all of the time. It can vary from $30-130,000 on any given day (with zero trading). Sometimes a few refreshes gets the correct number to show, or logging out and back in. But this is terrible IT and indicative of their problems. I've never seen this before in my life. If it continues for a longer period of time, I might have to go to another firm.
02nz
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by 02nz »

nedsaid wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:59 pm It is odd that Vanguard funds being owned by their shareholders doesn't seem to cause management to listen. I don't know, if I was an employee of a company and the owner called, I would be all over whatever problem the owner wanted solved. My future employment would depend on it. Perhaps there is less to the mutual ownership structure of Vanguard than meets the eye.
The mutual aspect was likely instrumental to Jack Bogle's revolutionizing the fund industry. But now, with the competitive landscape already set, it probably has far less effect. USAA is another client-owned company that has recently had its share of customer service troubles. I think like any organization, it comes down to effective leadership and management. And growing too quickly - as Vanguard and USAA arguably have done - is definitely detrimental to customer service.
02nz
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by 02nz »

DB2 wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:23 pm My Vanguard account shows the wrong amounts all of the time. It can vary from $30-130,000 on any given day (with zero trading). Sometimes a few refreshes gets the correct number to show, or logging out and back in. But this is terrible IT and indicative of their problems. I've never seen this before in my life. If it continues for a longer period of time, I might have to go to another firm.
Don't hold your breath. They're focused on this instead of fixing core IT systems: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=272842&newpost=4380443
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