More problems at Wells Fargo. Emily Glazer and Ruth Simon report that the Merchant Services LLC branch of Wells Fargo has fired at least two dozen employees over the last two years after a probe found them falsely reporting customers’ sales and pushing costly contracts on small businesses. This comes after the market-shaking scandal last fall that saw millions of fake accounts opened for customers without their knowledge. They write:
Wells Fargo discovered the full scale of abuses in the merchant-services business after undertaking a broad examination of the bank’s business practices in light of the account-opening scandal.
Wells Fargo said in a statement it has taken “significant steps” over the past several years to strengthen Wells Fargo Merchant Services, its merchant-processing unit for credit- and debit-card payments. The bank had fired some merchant-processing employees before the wider scandal broke last fall. After taking a deeper look into the business in the wake of those problems, it terminated several other employees and revamped the unit.
Merchant processing, which involves helping businesses handle debit- and credit-card transactions for customers, might seem like a mundane business. But small-business owners and industry participants say high-pressure sales tactics are common. They add that complex pricing structures and costly early termination penalties that can lock customers into contracts are also prevalent.
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