Customer Service with Vanguard

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LilyFleur
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by LilyFleur »

I have dealt with Citibank regarding an IRA in my divorce. They have a dedicated Community Property unit that has specific guidelines for the transfer of assets, which includes mailing a copy of the divorce decree to them, and both owners of the account signing transfer paperwork. I'm very surprised that Vanguard's regular customer service reps would try to handle the transfer of assets in a divorce.
I opened a brokerage account with Schwab about a year ago, and I have been very happy with their customer service, which includes 24/7 phone support.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by neilpilot »

btenny wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:13 pm 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.
Maybe you should switch your sweep at TDA to PTTXX, as I did recently. viewtopic.php?f=1&t=269305&p=4352864#p4352864
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Crimsontide
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Crimsontide »

The first person I talked with at Vanguard actually got it right. He sent me the correct paper work to complete, which I did. When I submitted the paperwork is when everything went to crap, it just snowballed from there into a big finger pointing mess...
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grabiner
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by grabiner »

Sometimes, there seems to be an institutional problem with handling unusual requests.

I have made several charitable donations of an ETF. The donation instructions say that shares will be transferred FIFO unless you specify otherwise, and allows you to specify. FIFO is fine for most investors who care about taxes, as they tax-loss harvest and thus the oldest shares have the lowest basis and are the ones they want to donate. However, I need to specify, because my highest-basis lot is the oldest one. (This is the result of the ETF having been converted from a mutual fund which had a redemption fee; I didn't want to sell for a small loss.) I have only once had shares from the correct lot transferred, and the time that happened, it was the wrong number of shares (12 rather than 112).

Every time I have had this happen, I Email customer service, and they fix the problem quickly. The donation of 12 rather than 112 shares was updated with 100 shares donated, from the correct lot, the day after my Email request. (This did require a heads-up to the charity, as I had pledged a donation of X dollars worth of stock and the charity received about X/9 dollars; I let them know that the missing shares were coming soon,)
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by BogleMelon »

I moved DW roth ira few days ago from Vanguard to Fidelity and now in process of moving mine.
I can't say how much I am relieved since then. Vanguard has excellent products, and usually no issues, but eventually you will have to deal with CS for a simple thing or more advanced, and when this happens the nightmares begin.

Fido chat feature is by itself was convenience me to move there. Let alone the ability to change my name "legally after citizenship" at Fido online with uploading just the court order, while Vanguard wanted a medallion signature and snail mail forms!

Lately i was inquiring about a negative amount in my settlement fund, the correct answer that I learned later was simply "Please wait few days till it is settled". People here in this forum got the right answer for me, meanwhile Vanguard representative left me on the phone for 20 mins and came back with no answer or explanation! He opened a case, then no one followed up, 2 days later i emailed them, 4 days later they responded back that "there is no negative in the settlement!" of course it was gone because it was settled, but no one from Vanguard figured that information when I needed it in time!
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Dale_G
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Dale_G »

I've changed ownership multiple times from joint to individual, trust to individual, individual to joint and individual to trust.

It was an easy process.

Dale
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EHEngineer
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by EHEngineer »

The trend I see is that Vanguard makes it difficult (or confusing or impossible) to transfer assets from one owner to another.

The OP was trying to remove an owner from an account.
Grabiner was trying to give shares to a charity
Oysterboy was trying to transfer funds to another person (daughter).
BogleMelon was trying to change his own name on his account
I have had issues trying to donate shares to charity.
I have also had issues trying to transfer money from my account to my spouse's account.

From a security standpoint, I do appreciate that it is difficult to move assets from one person to another. I'd rather fight to give money that to get it back.
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Dead Man Walking
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Dead Man Walking »

Many actively managed funds suffer from asset bloat. Vanguard is probably suffering from asset bloat. They simply can’t handle the assets under management with their low cost philosophy. Furthermore, they could careless if they lose a few hundred thousand retail accounts, including Flagship accounts. We may own the company, but management doesn’t give a rat’s tail about individual shareholders. It’s big business, get over it!

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sschoe2
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by sschoe2 »

This seems to be a problem at many companies the front line people can only deal with simple problems with scripted solutions. When a more complex problem happens they need to immediately recognize that yea this requires the attention of someone higher up with more flexibility/authority/training and immediately transfer it up to them. Instead the front line reps try to wing it and usually end up making a mess or they just get plain old obstinate and say no to everything. I had a jerk of a time dealing with BoA with my deceased mom's mortgage and finally had to file a CFPB complaint against them and publicly published the embarrassing narrative of their obstinance and incompetence. They were literally violating state law and giving incorrect legal instructions.
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ruralavalon
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by ruralavalon »

02nz wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 1:28 pm
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.
The mutual structure reduces or eliminates conflicts of interest, it does not guarantee good customer service or even necessarily affect customer service.

Personally I have always received prompt, courteous and professional customer service at Vanguard on the rare occasions I have needed to call.
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goingup
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by goingup »

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.
20 year customer here and I haven't had this experience. It may be a matter of what time you're looking at your account. The day's numbers for mutual funds don't post until after 6pm Eastern, 3pm Pacific time.
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bertilak
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by bertilak »

ruralavalon wrote:time=1550587709 user_id=5768]
Personally I have always received prompt, courteous and professional customer service at Vanguard on the rare occasions I have needed to call.
This is my experience as well. My situation has been a bit complex, but VG handled things in stride:
  • Changing account ownership upon death of original owner.
  • Dealing with a trust.
  • Transferring assets into VG -- many times -- including cases where owner names did not match exactly. This required a Medallion signature guarantee and was the most cumbersome of all my VG activities. I completely understand why it was needed.
  • Transfer (to VG) of what VG calls a "complex security." This is a non-priced, preferred stock, which pays a dividend governed by a contract.
  • Transfer of assets (both in kind and as cash) to various family members, multiple times.
  • Setting and funding UTMA accounts.
  • Setting up RMD services.
A couple of hints:
  • "Owner name" is more formerly called "registration."
  • When transferring where registrations don't match exactly, a Medallion signature might be avoided by asking one institution to change the registration so that it matches the other's expectations. I found that could be accomplished with a phone call (or perhaps an email). Perhaps this is a case of where Vanguard is more difficult to deal with, but as mentioned above I was very surprised how easy it was to change the registration at another institution. (I forget which!)
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billyo44
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by billyo44 »

We must be fortunate...always received 'top-notch' service @ Vanguard for many years...but always verify just in case there is a glitch.

Thank you Jack Bogle...R.I.P. :!:
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elainet7
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by elainet7 »

4oyrs no problems CS has improved greatly
CANNOT SATISFY EVERYONE ALL THE TIME
DB2
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by DB2 »

goingup wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:53 am
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.
20 year customer here and I haven't had this experience. It may be a matter of what time you're looking at your account. The day's numbers for mutual funds don't post until after 6pm Eastern, 3pm Pacific time.
I'm in ETFs and it's happened at various times.

I also went to purchase more shares of VTI this morning - error happened where I couldn't. A message said to call by phone for trading. A few minutes later I could.

On any rate, this is unacceptable. I'm done.

I opened up an account at Fidelity today and will begin transitioning. I also like the idea of paying zero fees as small as the difference is compared to some of the Vanguard's.
PinotGris
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by PinotGris »

Just to balance the picture, we have held assets both in Fidelity ( very long time ) and Vanguard ( a little less long time) and when my husband retired we transferred all assets from Fidelity to Vanguard. It happened smoothly. TD Ameritrade, unwisely, for trading for a short while so I don't count it.

Fidelity has made some major flubs on our accounts - did not withdraw the RMW when my husband retired and we could not get a waiver for State for the penalty, although the Fed did. Fidelity did not so much as offer an apology. I had no need for special rep services those days, but what I did get was indifferent.

Vanguard flubbed once by neglecting to withhold the taxes to the amount we had requested with the RMW and we ended up paying a pretty big penalty. They were WAYY off. Vanguard apologized and returned our penalty amount with 1099, plus the taxes we incurred for it, all with a very generous calculation. It took a few months to process but we got it.
I have had an incompetent VG rep, once. After working with him patiently I got fed up and complained and got an excellent, very competent replacement. Since then every rep. -(unfortunately they change every year, except this year) has been stellar. The one I have now is a gem. I have done several transfer of assets and recently for my son for a down payment on his house. She worked this through and got him his money on time for his bank.

Somethings do take some time to process - cannot do online , need stamps etc., but I don't know if Fidelity will be faster, but time did not matter for me that much, just that it gets done properly. I much prefer the lower costs at VG to the Fidelity fancy lunch meetings we got invited to with paid parking. We were happy until we learnt other clients get dinner invitations! All that cost was on me!
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by snowman »

EHEngineer wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:58 pm The trend I see is that Vanguard makes it difficult (or confusing or impossible) to transfer assets from one owner to another.

The OP was trying to remove an owner from an account.
Grabiner was trying to give shares to a charity
Oysterboy was trying to transfer funds to another person (daughter).
BogleMelon was trying to change his own name on his account
I have had issues trying to donate shares to charity.
I have also had issues trying to transfer money from my account to my spouse's account.

From a security standpoint, I do appreciate that it is difficult to move assets from one person to another. I'd rather fight to give money that to get it back.
Interesting observation. Until now, I had no issues with Vanguard CS. Now I have similar issue - trying to remove myself from minor Roth account after my daughter reached adulthood. It has been a nightmare and I just left it as is for now. One would think there is a process in place - fill out this form, mail or fax, potentially do it all online. Several years ago, doing the same for older kid at TDA, they told me which form to fill out and where to mail it, and less than a week later change was made.

I called Vanguard 3 times, and 3 times I got different answer. One was account has to be liquidated, then transferred to new adult Roth in cash. Second answer was they can only transfer MFs, not ETFs (we own ETFs). Third answer was ETFs can transfer in kind, but transaction history will not move over (???), and the request has to come directly from my daughter, not me. I asked which form does she need to fill out. Answer was there is no form, a handwritten note from my daughter will do, just make sure she mentions X Y Z so that people in the back office don't get confused... Not confidence inspiring!

The way I see it is that Vanguard does not have certain processes in place, so CS reps are guessing what might work, frequently putting customers on hold to check with more experienced people what they would recommend. In my case it's not a huge deal, amounts are small, and at some point we will make it happen, but it definitely does not instill confidence in me. Compared to Fidelity and their outstanding 24/7 chat CS, Vanguard is very much behind. To me, it boils down to money and management, as is generally the case. Holding Vanguard ETFs at other firms is the best strategy, and also allows for easy ACAT transfers and brokerage bonuses.
DrGoogle2017
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by DrGoogle2017 »

I just got off the phone with them regarding Uni 401k for my husband’s consulting business. As usual, they screwed up. I called them 3 or 4 times to confirm that it was the right form, they all assured that’s the right form until I sent it. Now I got a letter, it’s not a right form. Geez, I’m thinking they might screw up with RMDs too.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Mr.BB »

I don't understand why Vanguard cannot have a central online resource for all the customer service reps. If you have a question on your RMD, SEP or tax gift or whatever, since it is same information across the board any service rep should be able to punch in the information and pull up the answer; and everybody would have the same answer. With today's technology it's just not acceptable not to have that type of information at your fingertips.
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dave1054
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by dave1054 »

Not sure I understand all the complaints. You basically get what you pay for. If you want a storefront, handholding, credit card, etc than go with Fidelity.
Most bogleheads are frugal, do it yourselfers. Although index fund expenses are almost the same at both companies, Fidelity will pay less for money market, bond funds, etc. It adds up. Also, Fidelity is privately owned and their reps are not necessarily looking out for your best interests. Check the fees for Vanguard Personal Advisory Service vs. similar service at Fidelity. One way or another, Fidelity will get paid for the extra “customer service.”

Will someone please explain to me where my reasoning is faulty.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by DB2 »

dave1054 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:05 pm Not sure I understand all the complaints. You basically get what you pay for. If you want a storefront, handholding, credit card, etc than go with Fidelity.
Most bogleheads are frugal, do it yourselfers. Although index fund expenses are almost the same at both companies, Fidelity will pay less for money market, bond funds, etc. It adds up. Also, Fidelity is privately owned and their reps are not necessarily looking out for your best interests. Check the fees for Vanguard Personal Advisory Service vs. similar service at Fidelity. One way or another, Fidelity will get paid for the extra “customer service.”

Will someone please explain to me where my reasoning is faulty.
I don't disagree. But at the same time with Vanguard, you risk infrastructure and data accuracy issues by getting a little more for money market, etc. Look at how their site completely crashed for people trying to make trades in the December sell-off. My issues noted alone are enough. Ultimately, you get what you pay for with either institution it appears. There is no free lunch - decide which you want.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by SrGrumpy »

dave1054 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:05 pm Also, Fidelity is privately owned and their reps are not necessarily looking out for your best interests.
An odd conclusion to draw: private ownership > customer satisfaction. Anyway it doesn't seem that VG reps are necessarily looking out for clients' best interests. (Disclaimer: No dog in this fight. T. Rowe Price = 8-))
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by LadyGeek »

To keep this actionable, please focus on your own situation and state your concerns in a civil, factual, manner.

General rants are off-topic.


This thread is now in the Investing - Theory, News & General forum (general discussion).
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sbaywriter
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by sbaywriter »

I have not found Vanguard customer service horrible - just some long wait times on the phone occasionally. But these days, I can do everything online anyhow.

I have IRA accounts only, and at Vanguard, mutual funds only, old mutual fund "platform", have not converted to the brokerage platform. At Fidelity after transferring 401k to IRA I bought some brokerage CDs.

I found the web site at Vanguard much easier to use. Each time I use Fidelity I find it confusing and hard to use but have started to memorize the non-intuitive steps I need to take. Subjective, I'm sure, and possibly because brokerage accounts are more complicated in general. I'll be interested to see what it's like when I move to the Vanguard brokerage account - which I plan to do mainly to compare the Vanguard and Fidelity brokerage web site experience.

Trying to find fund information on Fidelity, such as money market funds, seems harder - I have to open each link to see the information I need. Finally got those memorized or noted down separately as a workaround. I find it easier to search and filter funds on Vanguard.

For customer service Fidelity seems less of a wait on the phone, but the reps I have talked to at Vanguard were generally better than the few I talked to at Fidelity after switching to IRA (the 401k reps were great).

I also did a QCD online at Vanguard this year - took about 2 minutes. I couldn't find how I could do it at Fidelity - Fidelity seems to require sending in a paper form? I found all the forms at Vanguard better designed and easier to understand.

I had originally planned on consolidating at Fidelity to make it easier for my POA if / when she needed to take over for me. May still do that, but things just seem simpler for now at Vanguard, so I'm waiting a while before doing anything.

That's my 2 cents.
norted1234
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by norted1234 »

Just called to recharacterize a Trad IRA contribution to a Roth IRA contribution, and the CSR tried to show me how to convert from Trad to Roth. Then said to call back during the specialists hours of 8 to 8 EST even though the website says IRA services are open until 10.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by grabiner »

EHEngineer wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:58 pm The trend I see is that Vanguard makes it difficult (or confusing or impossible) to transfer assets from one owner to another.

The OP was trying to remove an owner from an account.
Grabiner was trying to give shares to a charity
I wasn't having a problem with making a transfer (except for the one time that 12 shares rather than 112 were transferred, which is a natural error made when a human has to enter the data from a form, and which was fixed immediately). My problem was with the tax accounting.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by El Greco »

A few months ago I attempted to add about 150K in funds to my sister's Vanguard account over the phone. I decided on a phone transaction as my sister is not computer literate and I wanted her to get used to doing transactions on the phone with Vanguard. To make a long story short, the rep was incredibly clueless on every question we asked and every transaction we asked him to initiate. Shocked by his ineptitude, I hit the abort button and got off the phone. I realize that 150K is a drop in the bucket to Vanguard, but the appalling–and downright scary-performance of their rep definitely lost our business

I subsequently made an appointment with a local Fidelity rep (my sister has a Fido account as well). We went to see him and transacted all of our business in 15 minutes. My sister felt more secure, knowing that she could call this rep at any time with questions and/or visit the local office. I love Vanguard's products, but I think their customer service downright stinks. It's a good thing their site is pretty good, as that's where I conduct 99% of my personal business.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by hap_ca »

Vanguard :D
I called for an ETF conversion in my Roth so I could transfer to Merrill Edge. There was no hold time and the rep connected me to the right person immediately. It was done without issues in about 5 minutes and my identity was verified via voice. I've also called once about a 401k rollover into Vanguard and it was quick and painless with a knowledgeable rep.

The website handled selling many different lots for TLH without errors, and a wash sale as well. They also have the best selection of low cost municipal bond index funds and money markets that aren't available as ETFs at other brokerages.

My biggest complaint is the lack of 24/7 customer service because it can be hard to find time to call during business hours with work.

Fidelity :D
Called to enroll in voice verification and also for a 401k transfer out. Great customer service each time with no hold times and 24/7 availability. Even during the late nights you get knowledgeable reps that get you what you need done quickly. Has many other nice perks like free international ATMs, bill pay, checks, etc.

However, it's a shame that there's no way to get even a small number of free trades. The Fidelity funds are less tax efficient compared to VG and I'd rather just hold VG ETFs.

Merrill Edge :?
Transferring my Roth over to quality for status for CC rewards. Called off business hours to get the account number so I could link to VG ACH because for some reason that information is not available on the website. I waited over 20 minutes on hold. I also asked the rep about potential free trades as a sign up bonus but she wasn't able to help and had a sales guy call me the next day instead.

Sales guy claimed to be able to get boosted rewards if I transferred my Roth over before I wait out the 3 months preferred status. Stopped responding to emails after I initiated the transfer from VG. I have no idea whether any of the promo codes are correctly applied or not because there's no way to check on the site nor did I get any written confirmation.

Your mileage may vary with customer service. So far I've been more impressed with VG and Fidelity.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by hap_ca »

DB2 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:13 pm
dave1054 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:05 pm Not sure I understand all the complaints. You basically get what you pay for. If you want a storefront, handholding, credit card, etc than go with Fidelity.
Most bogleheads are frugal, do it yourselfers. Although index fund expenses are almost the same at both companies, Fidelity will pay less for money market, bond funds, etc. It adds up. Also, Fidelity is privately owned and their reps are not necessarily looking out for your best interests. Check the fees for Vanguard Personal Advisory Service vs. similar service at Fidelity. One way or another, Fidelity will get paid for the extra “customer service.”

Will someone please explain to me where my reasoning is faulty.
I don't disagree. But at the same time with Vanguard, you risk infrastructure and data accuracy issues by getting a little more for money market, etc. Look at how their site completely crashed for people trying to make trades in the December sell-off. My issues noted alone are enough. Ultimately, you get what you pay for with either institution it appears. There is no free lunch - decide which you want.
I haven't seen infrastructure or data accuracy risk with Vanguard. I recently used the December market decline to clean up some lots in my taxable account which had 100s of small biweekly contributions across 10 years. The website allowed me to select what I needed easily and the totals were accurate to the penny when I compared them to my manual tracking spreadsheet.

I own funds exclusively at VG so I make my trades after hours and never had issues, but admittedly I've never tried during market hours since I've never needed to.

I also don't see a way to get low cost indexed municipal bond funds and money market funds outside of VG so I foresee myself always having a taxable account at VG.
ScottW
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by ScottW »

nedsaid wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:59 pmIt 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.
I've seen this argument before, and I can never figure out if the poster is serious. If you own some shares in Pepsi and call them up to complain, do you expect preferential treatment? "I see you own 100 shares, sir, I better jump right on that. Your 0.00000001% ownership in my company means a lot to me"

Vanguard should care because you're a customer with assets they don't want to lose, not because you're an "owner", whatever that means.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Tony-S »

SrGrumpy wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:16 pm
dave1054 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:05 pm Also, Fidelity is privately owned and their reps are not necessarily looking out for your best interests.
An odd conclusion to draw: private ownership > customer satisfaction. Anyway it doesn't seem that VG reps are necessarily looking out for clients' best interests. (Disclaimer: No dog in this fight. T. Rowe Price = 8-))
I've dealt with Vanguard, Fidelity, TIAA and T Rowe Price over the years. No question, T Rowe Price is the best for customer service. And actively managed funds that perform better than indexes. When I do retire, I will roll all my retirement to Price and be done with it.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by DB2 »

hap_ca wrote: Wed Feb 20, 2019 12:53 am
DB2 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:13 pm
dave1054 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 5:05 pm Not sure I understand all the complaints. You basically get what you pay for. If you want a storefront, handholding, credit card, etc than go with Fidelity.
Most bogleheads are frugal, do it yourselfers. Although index fund expenses are almost the same at both companies, Fidelity will pay less for money market, bond funds, etc. It adds up. Also, Fidelity is privately owned and their reps are not necessarily looking out for your best interests. Check the fees for Vanguard Personal Advisory Service vs. similar service at Fidelity. One way or another, Fidelity will get paid for the extra “customer service.”

Will someone please explain to me where my reasoning is faulty.
I don't disagree. But at the same time with Vanguard, you risk infrastructure and data accuracy issues by getting a little more for money market, etc. Look at how their site completely crashed for people trying to make trades in the December sell-off. My issues noted alone are enough. Ultimately, you get what you pay for with either institution it appears. There is no free lunch - decide which you want.
I haven't seen infrastructure or data accuracy risk with Vanguard. I recently used the December market decline to clean up some lots in my taxable account which had 100s of small biweekly contributions across 10 years. The website allowed me to select what I needed easily and the totals were accurate to the penny when I compared them to my manual tracking spreadsheet.

I own funds exclusively at VG so I make my trades after hours and never had issues, but admittedly I've never tried during market hours since I've never needed to.

I also don't see a way to get low cost indexed municipal bond funds and money market funds outside of VG so I foresee myself always having a taxable account at VG.
I don't think anyone beats Vanguard in regards to the variety of great index funds they offer.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by neilpilot »

DB2 wrote: Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:28 am
I don't think anyone beats Vanguard in regards to the variety of great index funds they offer.
Agree, but many BHs will only need a handful of funds for a simplified portfolio. My 5 accounts contain a total of only 5 investments, and they are all Vanguard. ETFs. Held at TDA. Including a significant amount of bonus $, local office acces and very good customer service. :D
Last edited by neilpilot on Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
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dodecahedron
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by dodecahedron »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 8:04 am
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).
I had a TERRIBLE service experience at Fidelity. Late husband had accounts at many places that were transferred into my name after his death. (I was executor and sole beneficiary under his will.) Fidelity was extremely difficult to deal with and repeatedly sent me off on wild-goose-chase, transferring me from department to department within Fidelity. I needed a simple statement as to what the value of the account had been on the date of death for the probate and estate tax paperwork. Every other financial institution was able to comply with official statements but Fidelity never did. This resulted in delays in closing the estate and additional hours billed by the paralegal in my lawyer´s office trying to nail down the details.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

I called Vanguard for the first time since opening my account about 4 years ago. I own 1 position of VTMGX (developed international), all bought at the same time in a tIRA. I called to ask to convert this to VEA, the ETF equivalent. Having heard mainly on Bogleheads that this could be done as a direct transfer at Vanguard without any selling or buying, I was surprised to contact Vanguard on a telephone number from their main page (877 311-0014). I was told that I would have to first sell all of the MF, let it settle and then buy the ETF. What?

I posted here and livesoft set me straight. The Vanguard rep was wrong. I had to call the double secret ETF telephone number 866 499-8473. My post: viewtopic.php?f=10&t=273431&newpost=439 ... ead#unread

I called this morning and was able to do the transfer with no sales and no out of market time.

I gotta ask. For those who don't call the correct telephone number, should we simply expect the wrong answer to every question? If the generic rep I spoke with didn't know the answer, that's fine. He could tell me that and send in a question to his research department. I am actually in no hurry. But giving the wrong answer isn't cool.

So you might wonder why I'm changing a perfectly fine MF into an ETF. Well, it's because once it's all settled, I'm moving it all out of Vanguard. Currently, TDAmeritrade will give me money and hold VEA until I decide to sell or move it elsewhere. Sure, it would cost me $4.95 to sell a quarter of a mil in ETF's, which I can live with. Since it's an IRA, I don't care about basis or anything that might be lost. I've been thinking of moving for a long time, but dragging my feet because I had no compelling reason. This phone call convinced me I have to leave.
Last edited by Jack FFR1846 on Wed Feb 20, 2019 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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goingup
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by goingup »

DB2 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:59 pm
goingup wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:53 am
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.
20 year customer here and I haven't had this experience. It may be a matter of what time you're looking at your account. The day's numbers for mutual funds don't post until after 6pm Eastern, 3pm Pacific time.
I'm in ETFs and it's happened at various times.

I also went to purchase more shares of VTI this morning - error happened where I couldn't. A message said to call by phone for trading. A few minutes later I could.

On any rate, this is unacceptable. I'm done.

I opened up an account at Fidelity today and will begin transitioning. I also like the idea of paying zero fees as small as the difference is compared to some of the Vanguard's.
You're right--that would be disconcerting. If I had experiences such as yours, I'd probably transition, too. As a buy/hold investor with only mutual funds, Vanguard hasn't disappointed me yet. I'm also a fan of their lineup of funds, especially muni bond funds and blended funds like Wellington. It might be that their brokerage/trading platform isn't as robust the competition. :beer
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nedsaid
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by nedsaid »

ScottW wrote: Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:19 am
nedsaid wrote: Mon Feb 18, 2019 12:59 pmIt 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.
I've seen this argument before, and I can never figure out if the poster is serious. If you own some shares in Pepsi and call them up to complain, do you expect preferential treatment? "I see you own 100 shares, sir, I better jump right on that. Your 0.00000001% ownership in my company means a lot to me"

Vanguard should care because you're a customer with assets they don't want to lose, not because you're an "owner", whatever that means.
Actually, I am serious about this. Not in the sense that someone with 0.00000001% ownership in the company is suddenly going to call the shots on everything but in the sense that the company should be sensitive to the concerns of its owners, particularly when customer service issues come up time and time again on a forum that is pro-Vanguard. Folks have been saying from many posts here that maybe Vanguard ought to think about issues with IT and issues with customer service. It is a matter of the company having a listening ear to concerns and hopefully addressing those concerns.

My sense is that most people here are satisfied with Vanguard. Issues do come up and no company is perfect. But certainly there is always room for improvement and I would hope that Vanguard reads the threads and tries to do better. Every company has their stories with unhappy customers, but I have seen some of the same concerns voiced again and again. Hopefully, things will be fixed.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Crimsontide »

whodidntante wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:01 pm Those brokered CDs will probably transfer to Fidelity just fine, so I am not clear on why you are prolonging the pain. Jump ship!
Yep, you were correct. I have moved everything to Fidelity. Thanks.
student
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by student »

Crimsontide wrote: Thu Feb 28, 2019 8:58 am
whodidntante wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:01 pm Those brokered CDs will probably transfer to Fidelity just fine, so I am not clear on why you are prolonging the pain. Jump ship!
Yep, you were correct. I have moved everything to Fidelity. Thanks.
Thanks for the update.
frugaltigris
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by frugaltigris »

I have had a taxable account at Vanguard for last 1 year and I have now decided to move to Fidelity to consolidate everything. Here are some experiences from customer service:

1. Most recently I called to convert one of my MF to the corresponding ETF. I was told by rep that the only way he can help is to sell my MF and I can buy the corresponding ETF later :? I was shocked and told him he is incorrect. He persisted and gave up only when I told him that I have done the conversion directly to ETF for another MF just a couple of days back without making it a taxable event. I told him him that I must be transferred to a different CS who then completed my task quickly. I can tolerate this kind of CS goof up, but I am worried whether my DW who is oblivious of all our investments and details won't be in trouble with all this crap in my absence.

2. Earlier once I called, I was told by a rep that they can't find my account :(

3. When I was opening my account, I asked one of their specialist CS on some differences between Tenants in Common and Community Property joint accounts. I was told to go check yourself or ask a lawyer. I understand that I should probably dig in myself, but the response was pretty rude and almost like a scolding. Not a nice way to welcome a prospective "owner in the company."

4. Not CS but Vanguard related. I linked my Fidelity account for transfer. Two dummy payments by Vanguard were completed and information submitted to Vanguard. I even got a snail mail saying that my account is linked. But since last 2 weeks, Vanguard website says the account is not linked!!

There is no comparison between Fidelity and Vanguard websites. They are a class apart. Vanguard website really appears to be a high school project which can't be updated because the guy graduated.

In my experience I give Vanguard a B- in CS, and a C- in website.

In contrast, Fidelity gets an A (not A+ in CS), and an A+ on website functionality. There was once a confusion with a CS and he admitted that he is not expert on this and I was quickly transferred. On the other hand, Fidelity has gone an extra mile on two occasions for me to settle some issues which were faults of other institutions.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Parthenon »

Grt2bOutdoors wrote: Sun Feb 17, 2019 10:07 pm 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.
Last year I did exactly that when I was unable to stop Vanguard from sending quarterly statements on several annuities. They responded but never succeeded in stopping those statements. Every three months here come new statements through the mail. I'm currently in the process of liquidating those annuities as opportunities arise.

Ed
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by linenfort »

I've done a change from joint ownership to individual (my) ownership at Vanguard. It wasn't too bad. We did have to go to a bank for a stamp, but as as been said here, it shouldn't be made too easy.
Also, it wasn't from a divorce. My dad had bought index funds for me when I was a kid -- thanks, Dad! -- and a year or two ago I noticed that you cannot have a beneficiary if you already have a joint account with, what is it called, Joint Tenant Right of Survivorship. So, I needed to take him off so that I could make my wife the beneficiary.
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ruralavalon
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by ruralavalon »

DB2 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:59 pm
goingup wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:53 am
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.
20 year customer here and I haven't had this experience. It may be a matter of what time you're looking at your account. The day's numbers for mutual funds don't post until after 6pm Eastern, 3pm Pacific time.
I'm in ETFs and it's happened at various times.

I also went to purchase more shares of VTI this morning - error happened where I couldn't. A message said to call by phone for trading. A few minutes later I could.

On any rate, this is unacceptable. I'm done.

I opened up an account at Fidelity today and will begin transitioning. I also like the idea of paying zero fees as small as the difference is compared to some of the Vanguard's.
Is possibly avoiding a few minutes delay or aggravation worth the probable difference in returns?

From another thread "Fidelity ZERO YTD performance"
02nz wrote: Fri Feb 08, 2019 8:57 pm The ZERO funds are fine in tax-advantaged accounts but pretty bad (compared to Vanguard) in taxable:

Pre-tax returns, past 3 months, according to Morningstar: FZROX 0.40%, VTSAX 0.55%.
Tax-adjusted returns, FZROX 0.11%, VTSAX 0.41%
I am not surprised by the Vanguard fund's big advantage (0.30%) in tax-adjusted returns compared to the Fidelity ZERO fund.

I do think it's too early to start comparing gross returns, but believe the Vanguard fund's significant advantage in gross returns (0.15%) may persist. Fidelity knows how to operate an index fund so the difference is probably not tracking error. So the difference seems likely to be in the different index used, which would persist.
Last edited by ruralavalon on Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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02nz
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by 02nz »

ruralavalon wrote: Thu Feb 28, 2019 1:35 pm
DB2 wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 2:59 pm
goingup wrote: Tue Feb 19, 2019 9:53 am
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.
20 year customer here and I haven't had this experience. It may be a matter of what time you're looking at your account. The day's numbers for mutual funds don't post until after 6pm Eastern, 3pm Pacific time.
I'm in ETFs and it's happened at various times.

I also went to purchase more shares of VTI this morning - error happened where I couldn't. A message said to call by phone for trading. A few minutes later I could.

On any rate, this is unacceptable. I'm done.

I opened up an account at Fidelity today and will begin transitioning. I also like the idea of paying zero fees as small as the difference is compared to some of the Vanguard's.
Is possibly avoiding a few minutes delay or aggravation worth the probable difference in returns?

From another thread "Fidelity ZERO YTD performance"
02nz wrote:The ZERO funds are fine in tax-advantaged accounts but pretty bad (compared to Vanguard) in taxable:

Pre-tax returns, past 3 months, according to Morningstar: FZROX 0.40%, VTSAX 0.55%.
Tax-adjusted returns, FZROX 0.11%, VTSAX 0.41%
I am not surprised by the Vanguard fund's big advantage (0.30%) in tax-adjusted returns compared to the Fidelity ZERO fund.

I do think it's too early to start comparing gross returns, but believe the Vanguard fund's significant advantage in gross returns (0.15%) may persist. Fidelity knows how to operate an index fund so the difference is probably not tracking error. So the difference seems likely to be in the different index used, which would persist.
I agree it's important to look at tax efficiency, especially if you'd be liquidating taxable holdings to buy FZROX. There's a better solution though - just hold Vanguard ETFs at Fidelity (or Merrill Edge, Schwab, or wherever). Almost any brokerage will give you a bunch of free ETF trades and maybe a cash bonus, too, and moving funds in-kind is easy and quick. I've used ME, Fidelity, Schwab, and Chase You Invest, and all have better customer service and IT than Vanguard's broken brokerage operation.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by lukestuckenhymer »

Vanguard does simple things pretty easily... IRA trustee-to-trustee transfer or 401k rollover. No problem.
More complicated things seem to take weeks, months, each rep telling you something different. Name changes, transferring a maturing IRA CD from a regular bank to Vanguard... Painful.
02nz
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by 02nz »

lukestuckenhymer wrote: Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:07 pm Vanguard does simple things pretty easily... IRA trustee-to-trustee transfer or 401k rollover. No problem.
More complicated things seem to take weeks, months, each rep telling you something different. Name changes, transferring a maturing IRA CD from a regular bank to Vanguard... Painful.
(Bolding mine) Not necessarily. They screwed up an incoming rollover pretty badly for me (viewtopic.php?t=261539). After that I lost all confidence in Vanguard's brokerage side and moved everything away; still holding Vanguard ETFs, just not at Vanguard.
Caduceus
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by Caduceus »

I think your life satisfaction will be much higher if you just expect that this is going to be common. Not all customer reps are equally trained, and many are learning on the job. This isn't a Vanguard-specific thing and you will find the same thing at every financial institution. You cannot expect every representative to be familiar with every niche situation.

This used to bother me a lot - calling one rep and getting one answer, then doing my own research, calling in again, and getting a different answer, etc.

If you sense someone is inexperienced, just ask to be transferred, or put down the phone and call again. That's what I do these days. If I'm asking a highly specific question, and the rep seems completely clueless, I don't worry about offending the rep by asking to be transferred to someone with more experience. They almost always oblige, and if they don't, I put down the phone and re-dial.

I actually know the first names of particular reps at the institutions I deal with, and I ask specifically for them when I call in these days with technical questions. There's this kid in particular who is insanely well-prepared (I am the most anal person I know on these calls) - I insisted on talking to his supervisor and telling him this person needed to be promoted immediately.
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FelixTheCat
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service is Horrible

Post by FelixTheCat »

I must be on their favorite list. I’ve never had an issue.
Felix is a wonderful, wonderful cat.
Ricola
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by Ricola »

My opinion of their service is deteriorating. Helped a young family member start a first time Trad IRA with Vanguard. It has been a month and half since we started and the account is still not established and the deposit funds have not been transfered. Started by setting up an account online. Completed their paperwork which had to be snail mailed to them, no fax or email allowed. We hear nothing for a month. Try to look at the online account and it is frozen. Call and find out that the account is frozen because they need some form of ID. They said they had sent a letter, (snail mail again which takes more than 10 days to get to us) that same day. We immediately faxed them the ID information they need. Two weeks later, no email or call from them, and of course we can't get on the online account. Now a month and a half later we receive the letter from them requested an ID document. Why they cannot communicate by email amazes me. Next step is back to phone calls to see what is going on and of course, we will need to do this on a weekday during business hours. I really want to support Vanguard but at this point, I wish I had sent them to Fidelity.
bondsr4me
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Re: Customer Service with Vanguard

Post by bondsr4me »

GmanJeff wrote: Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:07 am 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.
the messaging system seems to take until the next day for me.
VG needs to get up with the times and have a real time chat system.
Saving on costs at the expense of good features is nonsense.
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