As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!
     

Wachovia Charging Monthly $5.95 for Microsoft Money and Quicken

This article was written by in Banking, Software. 27 comments.


Wachovia Bank April statements are now arriving in customers’ mailboxes. Some customers are in for a surprise. The bank is now charging a $5.95 service fee for many account holders who use Microsoft Money or Intuit Quicken’s “direct connect” feature to download transactions directly into the software (without visiting the website). The fee is listed as “PFM Online Access,” leaving many customers confused about the debit.

I knew this was coming as far back as February because the bank sent a warning notice earlier this year. I promptly removed my settings in Quicken so the software would never try to connect to Wachovia again. When I’m ready to reconcile Quicken with the bank statement, I now go to wachovia.com and download the statement directly.

Some customers were still unaware that Wachovia would start charging for this feature. Here’s a recent comment from R. Hash:

The $5.95 just showed up on my statement with no warning whatsoever. I called Wachovia to find out what PFM was and the agent said it was Microsoft Money and Personal Finance Manager. She said the charges were from Microsoft and I have been on a wild goose chase until just now to find out who and what this was all about. This misleading info what worse than the charge itself. I have wasted over an hour trying to find out what this was. Now that I know I am really ticked. I will download on my own and get a refund from Wachovia. This is just sad all the way around.

In this case, it’s the customer’s fault for not reading the bank’s communication. But there is a catch; Wachovia is still being sneaky. Here’s an email from a frequent visitor, showing how Wachovia may be extending its pool of affected customers, followed by some instructions for having the fee removed if it should not have been assessed:

You may want to let your readers know about an idiosyncrasy I discovered with the Wachovia online access charge. I just had to call yesterday and got the $5.95 “PFM Online Access” charge erased from my account. I didn’t expect to get the charge because I’ve only tried MS Money out once back in January, but apparently on the basis of the fact that I had once downloaded my account information, they decided to consider me a regular downloader and “enrolled” me (their words) in the monthly extra charge plan, even though that plan just went into effect recently.

How deeply annoying of them. Luckily I caught it and got it pulled, but everything I’d read about the charge led me to believe it would only affect transactions after the fee implementation date, not before. I bet hundreds of people who used to use Money or Quicken but stopped are now going to be unknowingly paying every month.

This customer used direct connect only once, before Wachovia announced they’d be implementing the fee. In fact, the warning letter indicated the fee would take effect after April 1. Shouldn’t that mean that only customers who used direct connect after April 1 would get hit with the fee? Apparently not.

If you’re a Wachovia customer, check your statements for the “PFM Online Access” fee. If you have any of the following types of accounts, you should not be charged, even if you do use direct connect with your software. Call the bank any time, any day at 800-WACHOVIA and ask nicely to have the fee removed if you should not have been charged.

These accounts are exempt from the online access fee:

* Crown Select
* Crown Classic
* Crown Banking
* Crown Access
* Crown Regular
* Crown Interest
* Custom Banking
* Performance Banking
* Command Asset Program

As some commenters have noted recently, you may wish to simply move your accounts to a local credit union. I think we’ll start to see more of these online access fees as Microsoft and Intuit charge the banks to use their technology. This banks will simply want to pass an increasing amount of these expenses to the customers.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published May 12, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
avatar
Points: ♦127,372
Rank: Platinum
About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Chris

Wells Fargo also charges this fee, so I just don’t use Quicken/Money.

I wasn’t aware that it was Microsoft that was charging the bank the fee, I thought it was a banks fee. Interesting. Once I purchase the software, why is Microsoft charging me a monthly fee to use it? I don’t think that was in the member agreement when registering the software; or was it?

Reply to this comment

avatar Hazzard

One more reason to join a credit union. I don’t think I’ve paid a fee of any kind (including account management fees) since I joined my credit union 6 years ago. In fact, they are paying me 7% interest on the first $500 in each of my accounts every month which basically pays me a dividend for having my accounts there with them. Even the interest rate after the first $500 is at least twice what I’d get at a commercial bank.

It really is a mystery to me why people still want to do business with a bank that’s goal is to make money. Why not join a credit union where you know they aren’t trying to come up with ingenious ways to take your money.

Reply to this comment

avatar MillionDollarJourney.com

Another money grab from the banks. Around here, some of the big banks charge fees for electronic bill payments! How much can electronic transactions cost the bank? I guess that’s why bank shares keep going up! :)

FT

Reply to this comment

avatar Lazy Man and Money

I’m glad I don’t have a Wachovia account. I don’t even use Quicken or Money, but the first thing I’d do is cancel my account.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jeremy

Microsoft does NOT charge banks for this service. That is a lie the bank is telling you to shift the blame.

I called Wachovia to cancel the “direct connect” service the day I received the notification. They charged me the fee anyway. Obviously, I’ll be closing my accounts; these scumbags no longer deserve my business. The only reason I went there in the first place was because they supported direct connect.

Reply to this comment

avatar Luke Landes ♦127,372 (Platinum)

Sorry, I wasn’t specific enough about Microsoft. Microsoft does not charge banks for Direct Connect, but the bank must buy server technology from a “certified 2-way OFX solution provider.”

There is a significant cost to banks to implement Direct Connect for either MS Money or Quicken — possibly less for Microsoft, but there is still a cost — and it’s up to the bank to decide whether they want to pass that expense to the customer.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jeremy

This, too, is simply not true. The bank CAN buy server software from a certified OFX solution provider, but is under no obligation to do so, and can even be a “certified” “partner” in MS Money without paying anything to anyone except their own developers, whom they are already paying anyway.

Implementing two-way OFX is both cheaper and easier than doing a full web-based UI. It’s the web version that should cost extra.

Reply to this comment

avatar Luke Landes ♦127,372 (Platinum)

That’s good to know, Jeremy, thanks. I still wouldn’t imply there are no costs for implementing an OFX solution, even if a company already has developers… who are most likely already working on other projects and not sitting around at full pay waiting for a project to come their way. There may be additional hiring and additional hours, for example. Certainly there will be internal chargebacks within the corporation. What the “banking division” must pay the “technology division,” the banking division might want to make back by charging the customer.

Implementing any technology costs money in some form whether or not it is kept in house.

I would be surprised if most banks don’t outsource. Either they pay their technology department (an expense center like technology doesn’t make any money for the company so all expenses, including salary, must come from somewhere — other money-making divisions pay them for their work) or they pay a third party.

The web UI is a big expense as well, I won’t deny that. I would even say it’s probably a bigger cost than OFX implementation. Another outsourcing opportunity? There are a number of companies that provide this technology to banks, at least the technology for regular, non-business customer access.

Reply to this comment

avatar negentropy

I am one of what I imagine are many that didn’t pay attention to the notice from Wachovia and got charged the 5.95 for April. I can accept that, my fault, I didn’t read the notice (although it would be interesting to see a reproduction of that notice).

Calling to ‘un-enroll’ was not easy. The CSR didn’t even know what the charge was for at first and had to consult other reps. (Don’t bother searching the webpage for a way to ‘un-enroll’ either. As far as I can tell, it isn’t there). Then he had to research on how exactly to ‘un-enroll’ me. Apparently, that is with the online division, whose systems were down at the time. So I’ve got to call them directly at some point and ‘un-enroll’.

I could swallow this $5.95 much easier if Wachovia offered an easy way to avoid the charge (other than ‘upgrading’ accounts). If a few extra clicks save me the money each month, I’m ok with that.

As a question, why do all the credit card companies offer free direct connect? Are fees from them something I should look out for in the future?

Reply to this comment

avatar Customers Revenge

Banks in general just seem to be so dirty. They are at such an advantage, knowing exactly how much money you have, how much you make and how much you spend. They probably have people in the back just thinking about little fees and penalties to nick people with. Competition doesn’t even seem to work because these banks just have so much information, and plus they have all your money! I got some negative comments on this post when I agreed with some extra government regulation on the level of extortion banks charge to their customers.

Download servers are one of the cheapest things a bank can implement technology-wise. They transfer data around to a billion places every second so another data feed would be trivial for those guys, plus they would have savings from fewer printed statements, phone calls, and web visits. The charge is purely the bank taking an opportunity to profit without providing much value.

Reply to this comment

avatar Peter

Banks are trying to drive you to their websites, so that they can offer you home equity lines of credit, mortgages, credit cards, CDs, etc. If you are not visiting the website and not visiting the branch, there is no opportunity for the cross-sell. Hence the fee.

Reply to this comment

avatar Maddogs Gal

I decided to google this PFM Monthly Access charge before calling Wachovia, yet again, to dispute an unauthorized charge. Here is where I end up. Good information here. My problem is that I get email notification that my statement is available, hence no paper statements. Since I download my activity weekly (directly from the website, not thru MS Money. I import the activity once completed), I rarely get the actual ‘statement’. All other vendors have to have your consent to debit your account, shouldn’t the bank have to be the same???

Reply to this comment

avatar Rseitz

Hello all,
Fortunately I saw an email notice in Quicken, read it, and it alerted me to the upcoming $5.95 charge. I immediately called Wachovia, asked a few questions and decided to drop the direct online access and use web connect instead. I had been using web connect with Suntrust and other account I manage with no problems. The only thing that happened with Wachovia is that the initial web connect went back 90 days and duplicated some entries which I right clicked and deleted before accepting.

As a customer who has been utilizing online access and downloads from within Quicken for more than 10 years, these charges are NOT new. Bank One, Suntrust, First Union, Wachovia and others all chared $9.95 / month when this was all new. Wachovia dropped to 6.95 a numner of years ago but eventually stopped charging me in November of 2004. I made no changes or upgrades to my account. The charge just stopped until now. It was originally called “online billpay service fee” but applied whether or not you actually used billpay.

I just called Wachovia again to ask about the charge again and , in fact, they actually told me “Microsoft is charging us” I said I use Quicken and that is an Intuit product! CS agents are also unaware that there was ever a charge in the past so they are either lying or misinformed.

In argument with others here speaking of the costs of OFX tech and web design, what about the fact that when we customers are using online and atm’s (I make all deposits including cash at atm’s and have NEVER had a problem) does that not lessen the manpower requirements of any goven bank thus reducing costs?

Reply to this comment

avatar Rseitz

Hi All,
On a different rant, how about the fact that many banks will charge you up to a $5.00 fee for you to cash a check drawn on that bank, but if you are not an account holder there. Let’s see… it takes the teller about two minutes tops to do the transaction. Hmmm, 30 two minute segments in an hour at $5 a pop= $150/hour. We all have some idea of what tellers make and it’s not nearly that much. Bank of America is, to me, the largest culprit of this and completely unrelenting. I have spoken to managers and they will NOT waive the fee. I happen to be a musician who works in various places around the country. I do a gig, get paid by check, go to the bank it’s drawn on, attmpt to cash it only to be informed I will be charged a $5.00 fee. Sometimes the check is sizable and I have had tellers say “It’s only 5 dollars”. I say, “your customer paid me by this check, I am from out of town and quite obviously can’t open an account here today as I have my own bank at home” They usually reply, “well you can deposit it in your own bank”. Gee, thanks.

I once had my mother who is a Bank of America customer write me a $4.00 check. I went to the counter to cash it….

You see the dilemma!

Reply to this comment

avatar Olaf Gradin

I’d love to see a list of all banks that offered Direct Connect (2-Way OFX). That way, I can assess the best rate for the service associated with the banks that offer it.

Reply to this comment

avatar Young-In-DC

I would love to see that list as well. I use Bank of America, and up until fairly recently (i think around the time they bought out MBNA) they offered the free service as well. But now you have to pay $9 a month for the access. I came to this thread trying to find another bank that offered this service for free. But apparently it one of the new ways to rake in money.

Anyone have any suggestions on alternative banks that offer free 2-Way OFX, paper checks, and good ATM access?

Reply to this comment

avatar Richienow

Extremely disappointed with Wachovia.
They have been totally unresponsive to direct complaints about excess billing.
Wrote to the President of the Bank.
No response.
Exaspirating.
Taking my business to the new Commerce up the block.

Reply to this comment

avatar Jared

I can’t find where Citibank charges a fee for direct connect MS Money downloads. I’ve only had an account with them for a few weeks, but I can’t find anything in the service agreement that mentions a fee.

Reply to this comment

avatar Shawn

Found this site/posting through a Google search. Got hit with th $5.95 today by Wachovia out of the blue…I don’t recall being notified of a pending fee. I have been using MS Money for years. Either the fee goes, or I am switching banks, this is ridiculous.

Reply to this comment

avatar Ryan

Here’s a stupid story. I had a wachovia account back in May, this charge showed up with no warning. I called them and had it removed, then switched my checking account to USAA and closed my wachovia account. Recently I opened one back up so I can have an account at the same bank my girlfriend banks at for easy transfers. Just today I check and have this stupid charge, AND HAVEN’T even used MS Money with the new account! I sent them an online message and told them to refund me and cancel the “service”.

Reply to this comment

avatar peeved

I just got hit for $5.95 from Wachovia. I was told at least 6 months ago that they would no longer support my old version of Money. (Which I only used briefly and haven’t used since then.) I guess their statement that this wouldn’t take affect until after April 1 means that they wouldn’t make a charge until after APRIL 1, whether you’ve accessed it or not since then. When I finally got a customer no-service person, she told me my wife had ordered it for Quicken. We dont even have Quicken. And my wife confirmed she didn’t order it.

Its time to move the checking account to the credit union. Wish I’d done that years ago. (They’ve already got the money market funds.) And Quicken and Money are becoming obsolete anyway.

Reply to this comment

avatar peeved

Update! My wife called Wachovia and they agreed to take the fee off and “un-enroll” us. (Even though we never “enrolled” in anything.” She was told that if we have Money or Quicken on our computer we will be hit with the charge again. Isn’t that nice of them.

Reply to this comment

avatar David

Chase charges $9.95 for this access as well. Very irritating. I got here, like others, searching for a list of banks that charge and don’t charge for this service. Seems as if the charge is more common than I thought.

I suspect the reason for the charge is all of the above. There are some implementation related costs that have to be covered somewhere, there is an opportunity to increase the revenue per account and it may drive traffic to their websites where their other products are promoted.

Several have mentioned using Credit Unions. I left my credit union several years specifically because I wanted this service for MS Money. The credit union hadn’t impemented it because of the costs.

I find myself using Yodlee more and more.

Reply to this comment

avatar Andrew

try regions no fee for ms money but when you pay your bills they immediately deduct the money from your account

Reply to this comment

avatar Tanner

I filed a formal complaint with wachovia to research these charges. My local branch called me and told me “We cannot ID the source of the charge, so you do some looking around at stuff you signed up for and call us back. We can put a stop payment in, but it MIGHT not work…and it will cost you $30 either way.”

Luckily for me I stumbled upon this article. I called and finally got this charge taken off. Thanks so much! Now I need to research finding a credit union and get away from Wachovia.

Reply to this comment

avatar Gary

I was completely shocked about this actually! I was 90% through theprocess of opening an account with Wachovia and for some reason I asked if they intereacted well with Quicken… The guy who was helping me had very little knowledge on the topic… ?!?!? Really in this day and age? He sugested I use the Check register! Huh? I haven’t used a check register in 10 years!
Once I found out they were charging for that I decided this was not the bank for me…

The major downside to manually downloading the transactions is that then you also have to keep track of when the last download was and which transactions went through or not! This is an easy way to make mistakes… None of the other (3) banks I use charge for this…
Interesting…

Reply to this comment

avatar Bob

Which banks do you use that do not charge for the Quicken BillPay?

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Connect with Facebook

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

Previous post:

Next post: