leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

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jjface
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by jjface » Tue Mar 29, 2016 11:57 am

SpringMan wrote:
jjface wrote:I wish the mutual funds were available without significant charges at other brokerages.
Me too. Fidelity won't even allow Wellesley admiral to be transferred in. They charge $75 to buy Wellesley Investor shares. Pure indexers may be okay at other brokerages but I am not a pure indexer mainly because of Wellesley Income fund.
The best I've found is to make use of the automatic investment option in Fidelity. $5 a trade. You can cancel anytime so you say set it to buy however much you want of wellesley on 1 april and 1 dec and then cancel it before the december one trades.

Or buy at vanguard and transfer in kind over to fidelity.

Doesn't solve the admiral problem though.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by Vilgan » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:01 pm

Oh, another fun issue with Vanguard: Despite over a dozen calls over a span of 12 months they still haven't managed to correctly update my wife's last name. Half the mail they send us comes to her correct name and half comes to her old last name. Eventually she just gave up and rolls her eyes at all the mail that comes addressed incorrectly.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by saltycaper » Tue Mar 29, 2016 12:29 pm

Very disturbing to hear about the accounting issues. I will have to go back and double-check transactions. I suppose one should do this regardless of broker, but this doesn't inspire confidence whatsoever. I've had some minor paperwork and IT issues with Vanguard, but nothing involving money lost to taxes or other incorrect accounting. Then again, maybe I just don't know it yet.

My backup plan:

Convert Vanguard mutual funds to ETFs. Transfer all Vanguard accounts to Fidelity if free trades can be arranged or to TDAmeritrade if not.
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Cost basis?

Post by Taylor Larimore » Tue Mar 29, 2016 1:10 pm

radiowave wrote:Recently got hit with a frequent trading penalty, locked my ability to buy/sell VTSAX for a month, and they changed my cost basis higher. Not real happy with that.
radiowave:

I wish they would set "my cost basis higher." That means less capital-gain tax when I sell. :happy

You might consider trading less. "Stay-the-course" is a winning strategy.

Best wishes.
Taylor
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by aj76er » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:05 pm

I had this exact same issue. This occurred when a fund that existed in the old style mutual fund account got rolled over to the new brokerage account. I switched to SpecID and all the lots were displaying identical to the AvgCost value. However, new funds added into the brokerage seemed to be fine (SpecID worked).

I have since had the opportunity to TLH completely out of the original positions, and am now back into the funds brand new in the brokerage account. I am assuming everything will be fine moving forward (*fingers crossed*); but I'll probably keep an eye on things over the next few months (as I DCA into the funds). I immediately switched over to SpecID and the update took immediately (unlike with the old style account which took a few days). So already that is a positive sign.

As a precaution, I'm doing the following moving forward:

1. Set all dividends/capital gains to go to my external checking account. This creates an official record of dividends/capital gains that I can refer to when double checking 1099-DIV. (I learned from running a rental business that checking account transactions can act as official "records" if there is ever a dispute).

2. I'm keeping manual records of lots I purchase in a google sheets as a check-and-balance against the cost-basis reported in Vanguard. I'm only DCA'ing into two funds once-per-month, so I figure it's not too hard to type in what I "expect" and cross-check that with Vanguard. It also has side benefits of letting me calculate AvgCost (out of curiosity) and inspecting lots for potential TLH without logging into Vanguard.

I like the convenience of the admiral shares (instead ETFs), because I can DCA on auto-pilot and I get the same low fees and tax benefits as ETFs. I don't think you can get admiral class shares outside of Vanguard.
"Buy-and-hold, long-term, all-market-index strategies, implemented at rock-bottom cost, are the surest of all routes to the accumulation of wealth" - John C. Bogle

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by PowDay » Tue Mar 29, 2016 6:56 pm

I'm finally in a place to start taxable investing, and opened an account with Vanguard.

I was able to link one of my bank accounts and transfer money, but my second account is stuck in "Bank account needs authorization" even after the penny deposits.

The site says I need to call to get this sorted out, two nights in a row I have waited on hold for 40+ min, at which point I just give up.

Bogleheads seem to love Vanguard, but this is the worst customer service I've ever experienced, I'm going to Fidelity a call and see if they will take my money.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by radiowave » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:06 pm

Radiowave:

I wish they would set "my cost basis higher." That means less capital-gain tax when I sell. :happy

You might consider trading less. "Stay-the-course" is a winning strategy.

Best wishes.
Taylor
Don't want to give the impression I'm a frequent trader, just the opposite. I had more cash than I needed in Feb and dollar cost averaged into VTSAX three times. So not sure why that triggered the frequent trading policy?

and if my plan works out, hopefully won't to pay any capital gains when I retire in a few years :happy
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by jarhead_jr » Tue Mar 29, 2016 7:48 pm

I've got funds at both VG and Fido. Only been with VG for a couple months but I noticed I got a dividend for a fund I have in Roth IRA but wife didn't and we have the same amount in the same fund. Customer service has been half and half with VG, but Fido customer service has been crazy good. That said my account might be sent to their A team due my account being with a mega employmer 401k account.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by Lieutenant.Columbo » Tue Mar 29, 2016 8:47 pm

goingup wrote:We haven't made the switch to their brokerage services and I prefer not to!
1. what do you mean you do not use Vanguard brokerage services? are brokerage services where you trade in individual assets (as opposed to trading in index funds)?
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by goingup » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:08 pm

JLMA wrote:
goingup wrote:We haven't made the switch to their brokerage services and I prefer not to!
1. what do you mean you do not use Vanguard brokerage services? are brokerage services where you trade in individual assets (as opposed to trading in index funds)?
It used to that were 2 sides to the Vanguard house. There was the mutual-fund-only side and the brokerage side. With the advent of ETFs (I'm assuming this was the impetus) Vanguard has begun integrating customers who had been using both sides into just using the brokerage side.

Some customers (like me) who only have mutual funds (and no ETFs or individual stocks) don't want to go over to the brokerage side. We hear stories that this "upgrade" has not gone well. Certain things I do (automatic exchanges into funds) aren't possible on the brokerage side.

I would guess that someone who opens an account today would automatically be in a brokerage account, although I'm not certain.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by in_reality » Tue Mar 29, 2016 9:37 pm

goingup wrote: It used to that were 2 sides to the Vanguard house. There was the mutual-fund-only side and the brokerage side. With the advent of ETFs (I'm assuming this was the impetus) Vanguard has begun integrating customers who had been using both sides into just using the brokerage side.
Perhaps ETFs had something to do with it but having (non-Vanguard) mutual funds in a brokerage account sharing a sweep fund with a Vanguard account (holding Vanguard mutual funds) was a real mess even without ETFs. [that is two separate accounts linked to the same sweep account -- not the new combined set up that has one account number I believe]

Credits coming into the brokerage account (dividends, cash transferred in etc.) were actually shown as a debit in brokerage, and then credited in brokerage when the cash was moved out to the sweep account. Then the sweep account was credited when the cash came in. The result was one debit then two credits so it worked out as a credit.

That's all fine but it's the opposite of what happens in the Vanguard mutual fund account where credits came in as credits and got moved to the sweep account as a debit (which makes sense). The problem was that Vanguard sometimes had trouble being able to tell you if something was a debit or a credit because in certain cases their transaction confirmation would be wrong resulting in confusion over how much was in your account.

This happened to me several times immediately upon becoming a Vanguard customer and ended up causing other problems which resulted in Vanguard terminating our relationship so as to avoid my complaining that I simply can't accept clearly inaccurate transaction confirmations.

I transferred in at the Flagship level and didn't find the rep. could help me at all. Perhaps having $10 million gets you a different level of service but honestly their system is their system and if it can't consistently track when things should be a (+) and when they should be a (-), then I don't think there is much a rep. can do. When money ended up missing and they had no idea where it went, alls they could say is we have no idea what is happening in your account. Their system was completely unacceptable in my experience and I completely understand why they feel a need to change to something else.

I was actually shocked -- literally shocked -- by how awful Vanguard's service was and horrified that I'd have a heart attack over it leaving my money in a state of oblivion which my spouse wouldn't be able to comprehend. Truly a panic inducing nightmare.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by llmgwc » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:35 pm

Maybe this is a stupid question, but a lot of this is over my head. Would I be wrong to assume that most of the issues posters on this topic are complaining about are problems in taxable accounts? Would I have much to worry about if I'm only in non-taxable? I'm not even sure where to look for errors...

I just put 11k into Vanguard this afternoon :(

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by GoFish » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:47 pm

I was in the market for a brokerage house pretty late in life, just before retirement 11 months ago. Prior to that all of our assets were in employer 401k, ESOP, company stock, and some cash.

Vanguard was my first choice, and I really wanted to make it work. I started by setting up an account and moving 10% of our assets there to act as an advance scout. I ran into lots of problems just getting the account set up. Actually had a customer service rep tell me that the VG website would not support account creation using Firefox (turned out to be wrong).

Then there was a problem because they already had my SSN associated with my company ESOP since I was a trustee, and they couldn't handle a personal account with a different address. Long story short, the account finally got set up but it took almost 2 weeks and several phone calls.

My account asset level would qualify us for some free advisory services, and I wanted to talk to someone in that department to see if it felt comfortable. Was told I could not do that until I had moved the remaining funds to VG to meet the asset level requirement. The result of all this was a complete loss of confidence in the VG brokerage.

Frustrated, I called Fidelity and had a completely different experience. So that's where the other 90% is invested. I still use VG funds and will probably roll my last employer retirement account to VG later this year.

My impression is that VG is very good at managing funds, and pretty bad at brokerage services. I consider having funds at 2 brokerages part of my portfolio diversification so I'll keep enough at VG to take advantage of admiral shares in a few funds I like. But Fidelity runs a much better brokerage and customer service operation.

EDIT and don't even get me started about no TouchID on the apps!

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by anakinskywalker » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:59 pm

mrpotatoheadsays wrote:Yes. Over the past several months, I have found their customer service terrible. The individuals on the phone do not appear to be knowledgeable or understand the computer system in place. I can argue that the software system in place for the new brokerage accounts was poorly designed as it has a global check box to select dividend reinvestment - How are they going to reinvest my stock dividends without a DRIP in place?

It provides example of why you don't want to keep all of your eggs in one basket. Sloppiness like this can lead to lawsuits and defections. The next thing you know, they are raising their fees.
I'm not sure I see the issue. Surely Vanguard brokerage services can reinvest your dividends to buy more stocks for you without charging you commissions even if the stock issuer in question does not offer a DRIP. Without a DRIP Vanguard will probably only buy integral numbers of shares for you, but in theory they could buy fractional numbers (just like a issuer-sponsored DRIP) on your behalf too, as long as the total number bought across all Vanguard customers is integral.

Anakin

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by mister_sparkle » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:14 am

I had a somewhat odd thing happen with my Vanguard online access. It wasn't recognizing my correct password, so after 2 logon attempts, it made me provide my full info (name, last 4 of SSN, ZIP code) then said it couldn't locate my account and that I needed to call to have access restored.

The rep I spoke to said that the issue was that I had 2 separate logons in their system, which is feasible, as I was a VG customer in the early 2000s and reopened an account in 2014, but he couldn't explain why it became an issue 2-1/2 years after reopening my account.

Anyway, they're going to merge the 2 accounts, and this will take 7-10 days. :confused That seems kinda long for what seems like a simple task. The only explanation I can think of for why this happened is that they're transitioning my account to a brokerage account (hope not!).

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by kiddoc » Wed Mar 30, 2016 10:27 pm

JGG wrote: My impression is that VG is very good at managing funds, and pretty bad at brokerage services. I consider having funds at 2 brokerages part of my portfolio diversification so I'll keep enough at VG to take advantage of admiral shares in a few funds I like. But Fidelity runs a much better brokerage and customer service operation.
Thanks for this. I feel better knowing someone else came to the same conclusion as I did. I was feeling a little nervous about this decision initially.
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by saltycaper » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:22 pm

kiddoc wrote:
JGG wrote: My impression is that VG is very good at managing funds, and pretty bad at brokerage services. I consider having funds at 2 brokerages part of my portfolio diversification so I'll keep enough at VG to take advantage of admiral shares in a few funds I like. But Fidelity runs a much better brokerage and customer service operation.
Thanks for this. I feel better knowing someone else came to the same conclusion as I did. I was feeling a little nervous about this decision initially.
Me too. Initially, I was going to close my Fidelity account when I started investing with Vanguard. Kept putting it off. Over time, I realized I was delaying because I wasn't sure I wanted to close it. I'm glad I didn't.
Quod vitae sectabor iter?

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by dewey » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:46 pm

My Vanguard experience overall has been very good. When they kicked my Voyager advisor upstairs though, the replacement was not up to speed. After a few curious communications, I asked for a replacement. Her supervisor was very protective of her--but also very protective of himself and finally yielded to my request. The replacement has been very good thus far. I must reveal that I vacated TIAA for Vanguard because their service was down right awful over many years, and always reliably so. I haven't experienced many other firms so I can't make broad comparisons (I had a few others though over the years).

Bottom line--be on your toes. Be your own best advocate. Stay the course...
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by abyan » Wed Mar 30, 2016 11:57 pm

I was a huge vanguard advocate, even got quoted in the national media praising them, but i'd say half customer service folks have been awful, and are getting worse. They screwed me over when moving my assets originally, and it cost me $5k. Since then, I either get someone brilliant on the phone or a total idiot. I have been trying to get myself added as an agent on my parents' account there for going on 9 months now. 4 different agents have given me wrong information, that I acted on, only to have the submission rejected. Also they're getting less friendly as we'll. Something weird happened in the last year. Their customer service has plummeted.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by catdude » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:11 am

Not to thread-jack, but is all this reason enough to move money from Vanguard to Fidelity?

A couple weeks ago, I was thinking about rolling over my Fido IRA to Vanguard; and in fact, I started a thread on that subject. About half the respondents thought that was a good idea, the other half didn't. So, thanks to inertia and procrastination, I haven't done anything about it. Now, thanks to this thread, I'm wondering if I should instead do the opposite -- roll over my Vanguard $$$ to Fidelity. The VG money is strictly in their index funds, and I have no experience whatsoever with their customer service -- I've never had to call them. I have a bit of (generally positive) experience with Fido's customer service, because their rep calls me every five or six months just to touch base.

What do y'all think? If you feel I should start a separate thread on this, I will do so.
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by jjface » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:26 am

abyan wrote:I was a huge vanguard advocate, even got quoted in the national media praising them, but i'd say half customer service folks have been awful, and are getting worse. They screwed me over when moving my assets originally, and it cost me $5k. Since then, I either get someone brilliant on the phone or a total idiot. I have been trying to get myself added as an agent on my parents' account there for going on 9 months now. 4 different agents have given me wrong information, that I acted on, only to have the submission rejected. Also they're getting less friendly as we'll. Something weird happened in the last year. Their customer service has plummeted.
Don't get me started on agent forms. I downloaded one from the vanguard website and submitted it within a day or two after taking the time to get it notarized etc. Weeks later I wondered what was happening and so called them and apprently the form was out of date and I needed to do it all over again with the latest version. I pointed the rep to the place I downloaded it from as the 'old' one was still there. They have removed it now thankfully. Just wondering too why I had to call to find out the form was rejected rather than you know vanguard taking the time to let me know. Took a couple of months of calls and chasing in the end to finally get approved. A few days after that I finally received the letter informing me the agent form was rejected!

To be fair I have had no issues after my initial transfer and agent authorization. I'm happy keeping my vanguard account open to take advantage of the fantastic funds on offer.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by larryc » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:36 am

I'm not leaving, but I have had trouble with major errors lately. I needed to make sales to get cash for a retirement home. I made most of the sales using Specific Identification in the Brokerage Account, and they were all recorded with average cost basis. It took me a couple of months to get the 15 transactions recorded correctly. I didn't realize at first that they were not keeping track of my lots correctly, so I sold one lot twice, before realizing that they were not recording the lot sales. As a result, that sale could not be corrected, and I had to make the sale at a much lower FIFO cost which was very expensive for me. They told me this was an IRS rule. The other transactions were changed correctly to Specific ID. The software problem has still not been fixed, but I don't anticipate having to sell much so it shouldn't hurt me too bad now that I now how to get it fixed. The sales in the VG funds account that I sold with Specific ID worked fine. I must also say that I have never had a problem in 20 years with Specific ID sales in my Fidelity account. It's nice to be able to share my frustration with you.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by in_reality » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:44 am

larryc wrote:I'm not leaving, but I have had trouble with major errors lately. I needed to make sales to get cash for a retirement home. I made most of the sales using Specific Identification in the Brokerage Account, and they were all recorded with average cost basis. It took me a couple of months to get the 15 transactions recorded correctly. I didn't realize at first that they were not keeping track of my lots correctly, so I sold one lot twice, before realizing that they were not recording the lot sales. As a result, that sale could not be corrected, and I had to make the sale at a much lower FIFO cost which was very expensive for me. They told me this was an IRS rule. The other transactions were changed correctly to Specific ID. The software problem has still not been fixed, but I don't anticipate having to sell much so it shouldn't hurt me too bad now that I now how to get it fixed. The sales in the VG funds account that I sold with Specific ID worked fine. I must also say that I have never had a problem in 20 years with Specific ID sales in my Fidelity account. It's nice to be able to share my frustration with you.
Thanks for posting. It's good to hear the actual situation because we often advise people so transfer their assets to Vanguard, but this complicates things if people have capital gains in taxable and want to sell them over time to minimize the impact of taxes (particularly if there are short term capital gains).

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by saltycaper » Thu Mar 31, 2016 1:17 am

johnny wrote:Not to thread-jack, but is all this reason enough to move money from Vanguard to Fidelity?

A couple weeks ago, I was thinking about rolling over my Fido IRA to Vanguard; and in fact, I started a thread on that subject. About half the respondents thought that was a good idea, the other half didn't. So, thanks to inertia and procrastination, I haven't done anything about it. Now, thanks to this thread, I'm wondering if I should instead do the opposite -- roll over my Vanguard $$$ to Fidelity. The VG money is strictly in their index funds, and I have no experience whatsoever with their customer service -- I've never had to call them. I have a bit of (generally positive) experience with Fido's customer service, because their rep calls me every five or six months just to touch base.

What do y'all think? If you feel I should start a separate thread on this, I will do so.
Obviously you'd need to figure out if there would be any commissions/fees at Fidelity if you plan to continue to add to your Vanguard fund positions, so you know how much such a move might cost over time, if anything.

It's awfully hard to recommend anyone move money out of Vanguard if they never had an issue with the company, but sometimes the first bad experience--when it comes to anything, not Vanguard in particular--can be a doozy.

I'd first decide if you'd prefer to keep everything at one broker or would rather keep investments split up, and do nothing while sitting on this decision. While some see it as a needless complication, I plan to keep using two brokers no matter what, so it's just a question of which two and what to hold where.

FWIW, I try to remind myself that doing nothing is sometimes the best option. For instance, just because I am a relatively passive investor, that doesn't mean the urge to "do something" doesn't pop up on occasion. I wouldn't want account transfers between brokers to be what satisfies that urge. :)
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by jeanpierremelville » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:50 am

Thank you OP for posting about this so Bogleheads are at least aware of the problems.

So far, my interactions with VG customer service have been OK. No major errors as far as I can tell. But I am concerned about the VG dividend reinvestment error.

So when I go to my "Balance and Holdings" section at Vanguard, under "banking and money movement" my dividends and capital gains are set to reinvest under the section "status".

Is there something else that I need to check to make sure that the dividends are being reinvested? For example, should I check the value of the fund on the day that the dividend is received to make sure it went up by the right amount?

Also, it seems as if the OP noticed the dividend reinvestment error only because a check came by mail for his MM fund.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by in_reality » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:15 am

jsong23 wrote: Is there something else that I need to check to make sure that the dividends are being reinvested? For example, should I check the value of the fund on the day that the dividend is received to make sure it went up by the right amount?
You need to check the number of shares you have. If the dividend was reinvested, the number of shares should be higher. The total value could be higher, the same, or even lower after the dividend was received depending on how the market moved that day, but the number of shares should have increased after reinvestment.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by catdude » Thu Mar 31, 2016 11:27 am

saltycaper wrote:
johnny wrote:Not to thread-jack, but is all this reason enough to move money from Vanguard to Fidelity?

A couple weeks ago, I was thinking about rolling over my Fido IRA to Vanguard; and in fact, I started a thread on that subject. About half the respondents thought that was a good idea, the other half didn't. So, thanks to inertia and procrastination, I haven't done anything about it. Now, thanks to this thread, I'm wondering if I should instead do the opposite -- roll over my Vanguard $$$ to Fidelity. The VG money is strictly in their index funds, and I have no experience whatsoever with their customer service -- I've never had to call them. I have a bit of (generally positive) experience with Fido's customer service, because their rep calls me every five or six months just to touch base.

What do y'all think? If you feel I should start a separate thread on this, I will do so.
Obviously you'd need to figure out if there would be any commissions/fees at Fidelity if you plan to continue to add to your Vanguard fund positions, so you know how much such a move might cost over time, if anything.

It's awfully hard to recommend anyone move money out of Vanguard if they never had an issue with the company, but sometimes the first bad experience--when it comes to anything, not Vanguard in particular--can be a doozy.

I'd first decide if you'd prefer to keep everything at one broker or would rather keep investments split up, and do nothing while sitting on this decision. While some see it as a needless complication, I plan to keep using two brokers no matter what, so it's just a question of which two and what to hold where.

FWIW, I try to remind myself that doing nothing is sometimes the best option. For instance, just because I am a relatively passive investor, that doesn't mean the urge to "do something" doesn't pop up on occasion. I wouldn't want account transfers between brokers to be what satisfies that urge. :)
Thanks, saltycaper. The problem is, I've been really wishy-washy on this whole issue. At times I've felt like I want to have all my money with one company; at other times I want to keep it split. I think going forward I'll just leave things alone -- you're right, sometimes doing nothing is the best option. It's not a huge burden to have money with two companies...
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by Allocationist » Thu Mar 31, 2016 12:40 pm

My ongoing problem with Vanguard appears to be different from those described so perhaps my including them in this thread will be of value.

The problem began in 2014 when Vanguard made multiple taxable distributions from my rollover IRA even though I did not request them. I was assured by Vanguard they would fix the problem including reversing the distributions and correcting the 2014 1099R that included the unauthorized distributions. Ultimately the transactions were reversed and the 1099R was revised. I was assured by Vanguard the problem had been fixed.

In December of 2015 Vanguard made another unauthorized distribution from my rollover IRA. Thinking I needed to bump the problem up to a higher level to get it fixed, on December 26, 2015 I sent a letter to the Vanguard CEO outlining the past and current problem. I received no response so in late January I called to find out if the letter had been received and the problem corrected.

After quite a bit of research I was advised the letter had been received and that Vanguard was working on it but they weren't sure what caused the unauthorized distribution or how to fix it. In late January or February I noted my 2015 1099R had been corrected but was advised by Vanguard they were still working on fixing the problem. My last contact from Vanguard was on March 2, 2016 via a secure message on the Vanguard web site. In effect the message said they were still working on fixing the problem.

I am frustrated by Vanguard's seeming inability to fix a recurring problem that has significant tax consequences for me even though I informed them about it over one-year ago. I am disappointed the Vanguard CEO's office did not bother to let me know they received my letter.

All of the Vanguard representatives have been very polite about telling me the problem has not been fixed.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by michaeljc70 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:28 pm

I was surprised how manual/outdated some things were. I completed 2 account open/transfers "online" only to be told I had to printout around 40 pages, sign them and then mail them back. They had no method to get them via email or fax or anything else. I don't mail anything and it was a hassle and defeats the purpose of doing something "online".

They were very slow to respond to an email regarding an account transfer. I was surprised as it was not a small account (well, by my standards- several hundred thousand bucks). Other companies will pay you to move your accounts there.

I will see how things go. Given that I will not be making many changes to my accounts/investments except adding to them here and there, I hope to not have any issues.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by rustymutt » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:37 pm

Find yourself a nice low keyed legal adviser chill out. A forum isn't the place to lodge such complaints.
That's my opinion.
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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by AAA » Thu Mar 31, 2016 3:42 pm

I was thinking for a while now to move an inherited IRA from one of the major brokerage firms because of the fees. I decided today to move it to Fidelity, where I already have some assets, based on my leaning toward not having everything in one basket and maybe a little nudge from reading this thread.

Overall the process went smoothly - the rep patiently stayed on the phone with me as I did the two forms online, one to set up the new account, the other to do the transfer. I politely declined to get into a discussion about my overall strategy, assets, etc. A few minutes after our call, the local Fidelity rep called wanting to set up a meeting to discuss those things, which I also declined.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by PB » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:35 pm

1. I'm an unhappy customer, too.

2. I've written in the past about systems problems large and small. The problems are real, persistent and IMHO, inexcusable.

3. Even worse is Vanguard's CS response. It is slow and, often it seems, arrogant.

4. As for keeping it simple? Why are they forcing people to move to brokerage accounts? You know what now stares me in the face when I look at my Balances and Holdings? FUNDS AVAILABLE TO TRADE. TOTAL CREDITS AND DEBITS. Can I hide my $0.00 Settlement Fund? No. They took that option away.

How is that keeping it simple?

http://dezigns.com/VGB.png

5. This forum is the best place to complain. They clearly don't listen otherwise, because you know what, their systems are regressing, not progressing. I don't know what's driving all of the involuntary changes, but for you apologists, I wish you would stop it. The systems and CS have been terrible for years and they're not getting better.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by niven » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:55 pm

PB wrote:This forum is the best place to complain. They clearly don't listen otherwise, because you know what, their systems are regressing, not progressing. I don't know what's driving all of the involuntary changes, but for you apologists, I wish you would stop it. The systems and CS have been terrible for years and they're not getting better.
This is not a Vanguard forum. I'm not sure why you think this is the best place to complain. The brokerage changes being better or worse are a matter of opinion.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by edge » Thu Mar 31, 2016 4:58 pm

It is actually a little strange that VG has at best average IT platforms as it is historically their main distribution channel.

Given their scale they should be able to do better.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by PB » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:04 pm

niven wrote:... The brokerage changes being better or worse are a matter of opinion.
Agreed. Better for average day traders. Worse for average investors. What does that say about Vanguard's priorities?

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by jackholloway » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:14 pm

For what it is worth, I had dreadful experiences with TRowe Price. Fidelity and Vanguard have been good.

I have a brokerage IRA, a brokerage taxable acct, and a mutual fund taxable acct at VG.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by Feb29 » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:19 pm

I sold some Wellington last year. I was surprised when the 1099-B showed a gain of 1K more than I expected. I ran all the numbers and my cost basis for a prior sale was OK, but the basis for last year's sale doesn't match theirs. A couple of years ago the account was switched to Admiral with a different NAV. I didn't know what to make of this so I haven't done anything yet. I thought I was somehow mistaken. Otherwise I am happy enough with Vanguard customer service.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by niven » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:23 pm

PB wrote:
niven wrote:... The brokerage changes being better or worse are a matter of opinion.
Agreed. Better for average day traders. Worse for average investors. What does that say about Vanguard's priorities?
Nothing to me, as I could only guess at Vanguard's priorities. I don't think having a brokerage account is geared toward just day traders though. I will say that what I see on my Fidelity brokerage accounts is similar to Vanguard.

Now losing your transactions or basis information is a problem, and one that I would expect to be fixed. I have not experienced this myself however.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by AAA » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:13 pm

PB wrote:...4. As for keeping it simple? Why are they forcing people to move to brokerage accounts?...
Are they forcing it? When someone I know did it, they found it inconvenient as they had to apply in snail mail for check writing privileges with the new MM account. Not sure why they couldn't just carry that over automatically. Anyhow, the rep at the time indicated that the move was not compulsory.

To me, it's no big deal to have mutual funds in a separate account from the brokerage account, especially if the move will cause issues. Will it be mandatory at some later time?

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by PB » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:56 pm

To be fair, you're right. It's not compulsory right now. But my understanding is that all new accounts are required to be in the brokerage accounts, so it's likely just a matter of time.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by edge » Thu Mar 31, 2016 7:26 pm

The switch over makes sense. Why would VG want to maintain two systems, one of which is essentially a subset of the other?

What doesn't make sense is that they did not do a good job on the conversions and the brokerage platform itself is inferior to competitors and in some cases to the old VG mutual fund accounts.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by Grogs » Thu Mar 31, 2016 8:55 pm

When I transferred my Roth in last year, there were a few bumps. I did the online setup, then printed the forms, signed them, and mailed them off to Vanguard. Then nothing for a couple of weeks. When I called to check on the status, CS was polite, but informed me I would have to do a different set of paperwork and get a medallion signature. Yeah, I thought it was odd they didn't know that I needed a Medallion signature until after they got the paperwork. After I mailed in the paperwork with the Medallion, they got my Roth transferred after about another 10 days. It was frustrating at the time, but since it got opened, I haven't had any more problems. I did get a few more odd messages, even a couple of months after the fact, saying "Your transfer is now complete!" I just assumed maybe there was some internal paperwork behind the scenes that was finished, and ignored it.

For the taxable, I opened my account in January. The only bit of annoyance there was when it asked "What is this money for?" I checked "Retirement", and it tried to set up an IRA. I had to go back and choose "General investment" or something, because apparently one can only save for retirement in tax-deferred accounts. :oops: Other than that minor annoyance, opening the taxable brokerage and contributing to a mutual fund was painless. I did check on the cost basis after reading this thread, but everything looks exactly right.

So, overall, I'm happy with Vanguard right now. I will be a bit more wary, and possibly make sure I keep good records just in case there is a problem down the road.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by chabil » Thu Mar 31, 2016 9:27 pm

Two years ago they switched our rep and I ended up with a totally incomepetent person. I complained bitterly to CS all the way to the director and got assigned to someone excellent, responsive, an absolute delight. Now she left and rep changed again and he is even better!
I have done several TLH harvest with both average cost and sp Id. I track these transactions on excel - everything reconciled.
I gifted some shares 3 times. This took some crazy amount of time but all got done correctly.
We have been with VG for 30 years. No complaints.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by tolerable2323 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:53 pm

Sorry to bump up this thread but the customer service at vanguard has been terrible this year. I open up a solo 401k and have to call them to make sure they got my paper work. They never seem to correct things unless I call them and ask them to look for my paperwork that I sent in a few weeks ago.

Disappointing since I've been with them over 9 years and would like to keep my funds there forever However, waiting on the phone 15 mins to speak to a Representative about my problem, the lack of communication, its starting to make me want to look somewhere else.

To be fair Am use to dealing with customer service like Nordstorm, Costco, And American Express. I expect my brokerage account to be as good or better then those I mention above.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by Diogenes » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:15 pm

SpringMan wrote:
jjface wrote:I wish the mutual funds were available without significant charges at other brokerages.
Me too. Fidelity won't even allow Wellesley admiral to be transferred in. They charge $75 to buy Wellesley Investor shares. Pure indexers may be okay at other brokerages but I am not a pure indexer mainly because of Wellesley Income fund.
Some mainstream brokerages actually waive the transaction costs for Vanguard funds, including Wellesley, for established customers with decent sized accounts. They have been doing it for years to keep folks from going over to Vanguard. Works for me. You must ask your listed representative at those firms and they can code your account so no Vanguard products are subject to transaction costs. This could work at Fidelity also, but I'm not sure.

_D_

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by Coato » Fri Sep 09, 2016 2:57 pm

Problems here too. Despite three phone calls and two notarized documents my wife's ROth IRA remains frozen because of "fraud concerns". The first year's contribution is invested in a target date fund, but the second year sits in her settlement fund. We cannot move it out to her original Roth at Fidelity, we cannot get it invested. 40 minutes on hold today to find out they won't invest or release funds without getting another document notarized.

I've been happy with Vanguard for 10+ years but my talking her into moving over from Fidelity isn't looking good. We'll be going somewhere else. I'll be sad because they don't have any good alternative to VSIAX over at Fidelity, but this type of service cannot be tolerated.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by jcjc » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:32 pm

On my statements the Balance Trend and performance information (on line) is wrong. We changed our accounts from individual to joint (we are a married couple). Vanguard purged all the individual data and so now it looks like our balances were much lower for years and performance numbers are wrong. They didn't seem to care much when I called. They told me the cost basis is ok. I also feel like all they care about now is selling their advisor stuff. Disappointed but staying the course for the low cost.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by benualson » Fri Sep 09, 2016 3:36 pm

My gosh this is very concerning. Do we really get what we pay for? Damn

The rise and fall of vanguard.

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by kiddoc » Fri Sep 09, 2016 7:07 pm

benualson wrote:My gosh this is very concerning. Do we really get what we pay for? Damn

The rise and fall of vanguard.
I don't know if this is the fall. Most low-cost/ no margin companies go through periods like this. Eventually, their customers make enough noise and they start losing business and reputation so they get their act together. Vanguard seems to be working on some stuff but is still way behind other brokerages.

They are still good in terms of low cost investment vehicles. For me personally, all new investments go into Fidelity for several months now. Still have ~100K I had already invested at Vanguard as I don't care much for the paper-work. If I get a good transfer incentive at a low cost brokerage, I may say good bye for now to Vanguard.
"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton

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Re: leaving vanguard due to math errors / poor customer service?

Post by bbees » Sat Sep 10, 2016 11:09 am

I transferred an Ed Jones Roth to Vanguard. Local Ed Jones brokerage very helpful when telling when $$ changed hands and how much, etc.. I had to call Vanguard to confirm that the exchange had been made, Sept 1. Original call to Vanguard stated an amount $2,800.00 less than what Ed Jones had transferred. Called Van back ad they said the total amount had been transferred. Still have not got written confirmation of transfer or amount and what funds transferred to from Vanguard.

I choose not to use computer for checking these accounts at this time.

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