Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Have a question about your personal investments? No matter how simple or complex, you can ask it here.
TheGreyingDuke
Posts: 1822
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:34 am

Re: Vanguard Select???

Post by TheGreyingDuke »

blueman2 wrote:Another member here just PMd me saying that with my investment level, I should be Flagship Select. Indeed, I just got off the phone with Vanguard and asked about that level, and they said I qualify. I asked why I was not automatically moved, and they said it is by customer request only. It is not automatic. I have been over $5M with Vanguard for 10 years, and no one ever mentioned Flagship Select to me. Very strange business process these guys have.

Anyway, they are moving me to Flagship Select, though I have no real expectation that this will help. We shall see. But for others over $5M, YOU MUST CALL to get Select apparently. So call!
I think the Flagship Select is a recently created classification, in the past year or so.
"Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race." H.G. Wells
leonard
Posts: 5993
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:56 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by leonard »

2 separate IRA rollovers to Vanguard. The VG rep walked us through it on the phone both times. Confirmed and answered all questions in real time. I was amazed at how smoothly both went. I was expecting more bumps in the process, but there wasn't.

My guess is that "paper stock certificate" deposit is an edge process case these days - but there isn't an excuse for the delay in response.
Leonard | | Market Timing: Do you seriously think you can predict the future? What else do the voices tell you? | | If employees weren't taking jobs with bad 401k's, bad 401k's wouldn't exist.
User avatar
Topic Author
blueman2
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by blueman2 »

Yes, to be fair to Vanguard, both my recent requests were somewhat corner cases. For my daughter's IRA, it was complicated by the fact I am a control person for several public companies. All accounts are now brokerage accounts, and since she is a family member of a control person, there were special trading restrictions that needed to be put in place. And yes, paper share deposits are pretty darn rare these days. But as you say, still no excuse for not returning calls. Further, I think the best way to judge customer service is how they respond to unique situations and needs. If they are only good at things that are simple, well, I don't need them for that. The only time I need them is when things are not simple.

By the way, the latest update: they somehow misspelled my daughter's name on her new IRA account! How is that even possible? She had an existing account with them, this was just a new additional account. They are now looking into this. My faith in Vanguard is very much diminished after all of this. They seem overwhelmed and out of control.
Mako
Posts: 345
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 9:34 am
Location: MD

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Mako »

I'm just curious, maybe I should have started a new thread but this one seems somewhat relevant.

I've been with Vanguard for almost 15 years. Haven't called them once. I'm not flagship as I'm still youngish and most of my assets are in the TSP but I'm not that close to nothing either. Now I've never had something like paper stock certificates, I've done normal buy sell exchange for the most part but slightly less normal stuff too (Roth conversions, recharacterizations, helped my dad rollover a work retirement plan...). Everything I've ever done was done online and worked fine. Every time I see one of these threads I'm surprised at people talking about all of their interactions, many talk to a rep enough that they seem to have a personal relationship with them. It makes me wonder, am I that unusual? Just lucky that I've only had pretty normal situations? Just a millenial-ish hate of making phone calls?
User avatar
BolderBoy
Posts: 5178
Joined: Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:16 pm
Location: Colorado

Re: Exec email at Vanguard?

Post by BolderBoy »

blueman2 wrote:Does anyone know of an email address for the CEO or exec office at Vanguard? I do not see any method of communicating my displeasure to the execs. I think this is not an issue of bad people at the lower levels, but rather bad management decisions at the top level. I want to let them know how badly they are doing.
My friend sent them a USPS letter.
"Never underestimate one's capacity to overestimate one's abilities" - The Dunning-Kruger Effect
User avatar
catdude
Posts: 1849
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:11 pm
Location: Central Oregon

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by catdude »

Mako wrote:I'm just curious, maybe I should have started a new thread but this one seems somewhat relevant.

I've been with Vanguard for almost 15 years. Haven't called them once. I'm not flagship as I'm still youngish and most of my assets are in the TSP but I'm not that close to nothing either. Now I've never had something like paper stock certificates, I've done normal buy sell exchange for the most part but slightly less normal stuff too (Roth conversions, recharacterizations, helped my dad rollover a work retirement plan...). Everything I've ever done was done online and worked fine. Every time I see one of these threads I'm surprised at people talking about all of their interactions, many talk to a rep enough that they seem to have a personal relationship with them. It makes me wonder, am I that unusual? Just lucky that I've only had pretty normal situations? Just a millenial-ish hate of making phone calls?
Same story here. I've been with Vanguard for about 15 years and have never had to call them, so I can't really judge their customer service.
catdude | | "I yield to the gentleman for a few feeble remarks." (Congressman Thaddeus Stevens)
FRANK2009
Posts: 432
Joined: Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:16 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by FRANK2009 »

Not Flagship but expect to be one day. :happy

I've had money with Vanguard for at least 25 years. I call maybe a few times a year. Called a few months ago and was put on hold at least 20 minutes. Maybe Vanguard is a victim of its own success.
User avatar
Wildebeest
Posts: 1204
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 2:36 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Wildebeest »

Wow, do you feel used and abused? Really bad! I know how you feel , insert DirectTV for Vanguard and I will rant for hours.

I am a flagship Vanguard client and I think their service is fine.

Have I called them and was I am happy with their answers? Not always. On the other hand I have not called them for 18 months. There was no reason to call them.

I am very happy with Vanguard and I have money with Fidelity, E trade and BofaEdge.
The Golden Rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
pangea33
Posts: 46
Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:57 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by pangea33 »

I have far less than 10 million dollars, but I do have 3 accounts in Vanguard.

I converted several of my positions to TF over the last week, and needed to speak to someone twice.

My calls were answered by humans before I even got to on-hold music, they were very helpful and answered my questions knowledgeably.
User avatar
MrFlish
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:20 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by MrFlish »

These kind of posts sure cause me a ton of anxiety as I'm getting ready to move my investments, (Tax Deferred IRA's) to Vanguard from another firm.
User avatar
Topic Author
blueman2
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by blueman2 »

MrFlish wrote:These kind of posts sure cause me a ton of anxiety as I'm getting ready to move my investments, (Tax Deferred IRA's) to Vanguard from another firm.
Well, if you are completely self reliant, and do not have any complex needs, you will probably be fine. I don't want to scare people off too much. But if your needs are more complex at times, then yes, I would consider other options such as Fidelity. Vanguard is going through some growing pains right now, for sure. I personally plan to start moving some of my assets to Fidelity to see how that goes, but I hate going through the red tape of moving to another firm!

I did end up writing an old fashioned snail mail letter to McNabb today, respectfully sharing my recent experiences and views. I hope the feedback I provided him helps.
KALS
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by KALS »

Fidelity may not always be superior. I rolled over a 401k to a tIRA at Fidelity in 2016. It took a couple of follow up calls to get the transfer completed. My only experience with Fidelity customer service. I viewed it as a hiccup.
Choy
Posts: 366
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:56 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Choy »

Mako wrote:I'm just curious, maybe I should have started a new thread but this one seems somewhat relevant.

I've been with Vanguard for almost 15 years. Haven't called them once. I'm not flagship as I'm still youngish and most of my assets are in the TSP but I'm not that close to nothing either. Now I've never had something like paper stock certificates, I've done normal buy sell exchange for the most part but slightly less normal stuff too (Roth conversions, recharacterizations, helped my dad rollover a work retirement plan...). Everything I've ever done was done online and worked fine. Every time I see one of these threads I'm surprised at people talking about all of their interactions, many talk to a rep enough that they seem to have a personal relationship with them. It makes me wonder, am I that unusual? Just lucky that I've only had pretty normal situations? Just a millenial-ish hate of making phone calls?
Several people have made a comment about people calling in instead of doing things themselves online. I don't call to make phone transactions. I call because they mess up routine transactions initiated online!
User avatar
Topic Author
blueman2
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by blueman2 »

Choy wrote: Several people have made a comment about people calling in instead of doing things themselves online. I don't call to make phone transactions. I call because they mess up routine transactions initiated online!
+1.

I personally dislike calling in so do everything I can online. I only call if
1) cannot be done online
2) they mess up what I tried to do online

Nonetheless, here I am with several issues that required calling in and the service was not what I had hoped.
mhalley
Posts: 8657
Joined: Tue Nov 20, 2007 6:02 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by mhalley »

I have never had to talk to Vanguard, except to take advantage of their free CFP that they used to offer. Otherwise, all transactions have been online. Relatively straightforward, Initially setting up IRA and Taxable accounts, Transferring money from other brokerages into the accounts, Doing backdoor roth, funding taxable account and iras etc. Going into withdrawal phase soon, but already have linked bank accounts so don't anticipate any problems with selling shares and having money go into my bank accounts.
So far I have not ran into anything that I messed up or could not do online. As some have said, any large company is going to drop the ball occasionally, the main thing is what they do to get the ball back into play.
User avatar
MrFlish
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:20 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by MrFlish »

blueman2 wrote:
MrFlish wrote:These kind of posts sure cause me a ton of anxiety as I'm getting ready to move my investments, (Tax Deferred IRA's) to Vanguard from another firm.
Well, if you are completely self reliant, and do not have any complex needs, you will probably be fine. I don't want to scare people off too much. But if your needs are more complex at times, then yes, I would consider other options such as Fidelity. Vanguard is going through some growing pains right now, for sure. I personally plan to start moving some of my assets to Fidelity to see how that goes, but I hate going through the red tape of moving to another firm!

I did end up writing an old fashioned snail mail letter to McNabb today, respectfully sharing my recent experiences and views. I hope the feedback I provided him helps.

I've got what I assume will be a simple creation of a new account and transfer of an existing tax deferred IRA (old employer) from my current institution to Vanguard. I'll be retiring an a few months and will transfer my existing 401k to the Vanguard account. It's certainly a bit un-nerving given that it's an enormous chunk of your life's savings but I feel like this has given me a heads up so I'll be more diligent as things get set up.
Choy
Posts: 366
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:56 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Choy »

MrFlish wrote: I've got what I assume will be a simple creation of a new account and transfer of an existing tax deferred IRA (old employer) from my current institution to Vanguard. I'll be retiring an a few months and will transfer my existing 401k to the Vanguard account. It's certainly a bit un-nerving given that it's an enormous chunk of your life's savings but I feel like this has given me a heads up so I'll be more diligent as things get set up.
Vanguard may drop the ball with customer service every now and then, but they will ultimately make you whole. I feel very secure with my holdings at Vanguard and would still recommend them to others.
JD
Posts: 210
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 11:19 pm
Location: TN

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by JD »

Mako wrote:I'm just curious, maybe I should have started a new thread but this one seems somewhat relevant.

I've been with Vanguard for almost 15 years. Haven't called them once. I'm not flagship as I'm still youngish and most of my assets are in the TSP but I'm not that close to nothing either. Now I've never had something like paper stock certificates, I've done normal buy sell exchange for the most part but slightly less normal stuff too (Roth conversions, recharacterizations, helped my dad rollover a work retirement plan...). Everything I've ever done was done online and worked fine. Every time I see one of these threads I'm surprised at people talking about all of their interactions, many talk to a rep enough that they seem to have a personal relationship with them. It makes me wonder, am I that unusual? Just lucky that I've only had pretty normal situations? Just a millenial-ish hate of making phone calls?
My thought as well. I have been with Vanguard for quite sometime and no glitches whatsoever. But I don't call often (No need) and if there is a need then I use the email. In my early years, I used to call my brokerage(s) very often and sometime, I even visit them!!
Craig B
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:07 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Craig B »

I have very little experience with Fidelity but I have been with Vanguard for 20 years ($2mil.) I have found through the years that in order to get a correct and well thought out response from a representative it's best to call or send an email first. When I have called to get an immediate answer I am always a little suspect since its usually not my rep and the person has not had time to think about the particular issue. FWIW
User avatar
FrugalInvestor
Posts: 5686
Joined: Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:20 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by FrugalInvestor »

I typically call Vanguard less than once per year. I called a couple of days ago to re-characterize a portion of a Roth conversion that I did in December. I got right through with voice verification which the rep obviously appreciated. We got right to work. I told him what I needed and he then took a little time to confirm what he needed to do in order to fulfill my request (re-characterization). He asked for the relevant information he needed from me, entered it into his system and that was it. I was impressed, especially after reading so many comments about poor service. I've had one experience where had I not pressed the rep I would have been misguided. That was a few years ago. Other than that one experience I've always had very good luck with customer service from Vanguard. I'm staying the course.
Have a plan, stay the course and simplify, but most importantly....Ignore the Noise!
User avatar
Topic Author
blueman2
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:50 pm

New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by blueman2 »

Well, as part of Vanguard moving me to Flagship Select, I was given a different representative. I checked out the person using the FINRA lookup link posted earlier in this thread and found the person was more junior and less experienced than my last rep, and had filed for personal bankruptcy just before joining Vanguard team. I scanned a few sites, and most seemed to agree that personal bankruptcy, while not a disqualifying event, is not a positive sign for a broker. Should I be concerned? I am assuming not, since Vanguard does not have high pressure commission schemes like some other firms that might cause problems. But odd that Flagship Select gets a worse rep than Flagship.
User avatar
TimeRunner
Posts: 1643
Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:23 pm

Re: New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by TimeRunner »

blueman2 wrote:Well, as part of Vanguard moving me to Flagship Select, I was given a different representative. I checked out the person using the FINRA lookup link posted earlier in this thread and found the person was more junior and less experienced than my last rep, and had filed for personal bankruptcy just before joining Vanguard team. I scanned a few sites, and most seemed to agree that personal bankruptcy, while not a disqualifying event, is not a positive sign for a broker. Should I be concerned? I am assuming not, since Vanguard does not have high pressure commission schemes like some other firms that might cause problems. But odd that Flagship Select gets a worse rep than Flagship.
He might not be a worse rep. He might have gotten financial religion after his brush with financial death. :wink:
One cannot enlighten the unconscious.
User avatar
goingup
Posts: 3967
Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2010 1:02 pm

Re: New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by goingup »

blueman2 wrote:Well, as part of Vanguard moving me to Flagship Select, I was given a different representative. I checked out the person using the FINRA lookup link posted earlier in this thread and found the person was more junior and less experienced than my last rep, and had filed for personal bankruptcy just before joining Vanguard team. I scanned a few sites, and most seemed to agree that personal bankruptcy, while not a disqualifying event, is not a positive sign for a broker. Should I be concerned? I am assuming not, since Vanguard does not have high pressure commission schemes like some other firms that might cause problems. But odd that Flagship Select gets a worse rep than Flagship.
I wouldn't love that situation. You are fully within your rights to request another rep. But maybe he was the best of the lot. :shock:
User avatar
HueyLD
Posts: 7982
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:30 am

Re: New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by HueyLD »

blueman2 wrote:Well, as part of Vanguard moving me to Flagship Select, I was given a different representative. I checked out the person using the FINRA lookup link posted earlier in this thread and found the person was more junior and less experienced than my last rep, and had filed for personal bankruptcy just before joining Vanguard team. I scanned a few sites, and most seemed to agree that personal bankruptcy, while not a disqualifying event, is not a positive sign for a broker. Should I be concerned? I am assuming not, since Vanguard does not have high pressure commission schemes like some other firms that might cause problems. But odd that Flagship Select gets a worse rep than Flagship.
This is absolutely dreadful.

How did (s)he get hired for such a high profile job to begin with? You should demand another rep.
User avatar
Chan_va
Posts: 806
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:15 pm

Re: New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by Chan_va »

blueman2 wrote:Well, as part of Vanguard moving me to Flagship Select, I was given a different representative. I checked out the person using the FINRA lookup link posted earlier in this thread and found the person was more junior and less experienced than my last rep, and had filed for personal bankruptcy just before joining Vanguard team. I scanned a few sites, and most seemed to agree that personal bankruptcy, while not a disqualifying event, is not a positive sign for a broker. Should I be concerned? I am assuming not, since Vanguard does not have high pressure commission schemes like some other firms that might cause problems. But odd that Flagship Select gets a worse rep than Flagship.
That is simply unacceptable. If I were you, I would move at least half my assets to Fidelity.

For those of you advocating doing things online, have you taken a look at Vanguard'd website lately? It has the technology and features of something from the early 2000's. The most meaningful change in the past 2 years on the website has been changing the font size on the home page to an absurdly large one.

I do hope someone from Vanguard reads these threads. They simply do not offer a competitive product anymore.
kiddoc
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:52 pm

Re: New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by kiddoc »

Chan_va wrote: I do hope someone from Vanguard reads these threads. They simply do not offer a competitive product anymore.
Although I am quite critical (and often) of Vanguard's customer service, I am not sure that statement is true. They are still the best or second best low-cost passive investment management company. I think their investment products are top notch.

Their brokerage standards are very low and leave much to be desired when compared to Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, etc but are still much better than Edward Jones, insurance salesmen, T Rowe Price, etc. Among the "good ones", I agree, Vanguard has the highest cost and the probably the lowest customer service. However, I would not go so far as to take them out of the "good ones".
Last edited by kiddoc on Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton
User avatar
HueyLD
Posts: 7982
Joined: Mon Jan 14, 2008 10:30 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by HueyLD »

Vanguard still offers very competitive and among the best products. However, its ability to service customers who have accounts directly with Vanguard is the problem.

I never thought I needed to call Vanguard until the online system either could not handle the transaction I needed to conduct or demanded that I called for additional instructions. If a company the size of Vanguard cannot even handle phone calls for non-routine situations, it IS a problem.

As this continues, Vanguard is going to lose its best customers.
Quark
Posts: 1045
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2015 5:32 pm

Re: Vanguard Select???

Post by Quark »

TheGreyingDuke wrote:I think the Flagship Select is a recently created classification, in the past year or so.
It's only been a published classification recently. They've had a level above flagship for many years. Qualification moved from $5mm to $10mm and then back to $5mm. The earliest reference I've seen on this board was a post from a number of years ago when someone found a Vanguard help wanted ad that included a brief description of the service. I wonder if they have a higher level for a much higher level of assets.

As always, people post about customer service when they have a problem. People rarely post to report that they did not have a problem, other than in response to problem threads.
Choy
Posts: 366
Joined: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:56 pm

Re: New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by Choy »

kiddoc wrote: Their brokerage standards are very low and leave much to be desired when compared to Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, etc but are still much better than Edward Jones, insurance salesmen, T Rowe Price, etc.
Getting off-topic, but I have a soft spot for TRP since I started with them before moving to Vanguard. I think TRP has excellent standards and customer service. They aren't the cheapest of the bunch, but they are a far cry from EJ and insurance salesmen. 10 years ago before Vanguard lowered their minimums and Fidelity really committed to a price war with index funds with Vanguard, TRP offered reasonable fees and had the lowest minimum balance requirements to start investing.
User avatar
Topic Author
blueman2
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: New rep: personal bankruptcy an issue?

Post by blueman2 »

HueyLD wrote:How did (s)he get hired for such a high profile job to begin with?
Yes, it does give me concern given how low Vanguard pays and how many people they need to hire given their growth. But to be fair, I will give this rep a chance. All I care is that the person return my communications and do a good job following up on requests. If he can do that, I do not care what his background is.
Last edited by blueman2 on Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
BigJohn
Posts: 1925
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 11:27 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by BigJohn »

blueman2 wrote: had filed for personal bankruptcy just before joining Vanguard team. I scanned a few sites, and most seemed to agree that personal bankruptcy, while not a disqualifying event, is not a positive sign for a broker.
The negative emotion and worry over this with no data on his performance seems unjustified. First, he is not your broker and is not advising you on investment choices. He's a customer service rep and it's not clear why a bankruptcy would disqualify him from this task. Second, you have no idea what circumstances led to the bankruptcy, it could be totally unrelated to investment issues. For example, many families in my area are having to declare bankruptcy due to a 1000 year flood event that damaged houses well outside the flood plain and so they did not have insurance.
User avatar
Topic Author
blueman2
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:50 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by blueman2 »

Good points, BigJohn. Like I said, I will assume the best from my new rep until proven otherwise. I will give Vanguard another 3-4 months, but will start looking now into the process ofr getting things transferred to Fidelity without triggering capital gains tax issues for the non-retirement portion of my portfolio. Moving the retirement potion will, of course, be a non-event from a tax standpoint if done correctly.

My service expectations of Vanguard have been downward recalibrated. Let's see if I can live with that, and if Vanguard fails even my lowered service expectations.
User avatar
in_reality
Posts: 4529
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by in_reality »

Choy wrote:
MrFlish wrote: I've got what I assume will be a simple creation of a new account and transfer of an existing tax deferred IRA (old employer) from my current institution to Vanguard. I'll be retiring an a few months and will transfer my existing 401k to the Vanguard account. It's certainly a bit un-nerving given that it's an enormous chunk of your life's savings but I feel like this has given me a heads up so I'll be more diligent as things get set up.
Vanguard may drop the ball with customer service every now and then, but they will ultimately make you whole. I feel very secure with my holdings at Vanguard and would still recommend them to others.
Maybe. I had about 1% of my assets go missing. I received a trade confirmation saying the trade went through and my cash for the purchase disappeared, but the shares never made it into my account.

I only noticed the balance difference because I'd been checking daily (bad me perhaps) and didn't understand why my portfolio didn't go up when the market did.

So yes, Vanguard eventually did make me whole but what if I hadn't noticed?

Anyway, Vanguard terminated my account after I insisted that they change their system to ensure they issue correct trade confirmations. There is no way my wife would ever have noticed and it's my job to make sure the assets are protected for her.

Never looked up my Flagship Rep in FINRA, but I think it was just system error. IT systems cost money and Vanguard executives are incentivized on reducing costs. Simple as that. The Vanguard promise of interests being aligned didn't work for me. I wanted correct accounting.
drzzzzz
Posts: 594
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:56 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by drzzzzz »

I have been a Vanguard customer for 25 plus years with a sizable portfolio. Have also had accounting issues with them, but what really got me irritated was the hassle and how long it took to establish a revocable trust with Vanguard - over 10 weeks and all the paperwork had been sent in correctly and they kept saying they were swamped with paperwork. What got funnier or sad, was when we went to open a second revocable trust in the same name to have a separate account for certain mutual funds and stocks using all the same paperwork - after 4 weeks and numerous calls by me, they said they were missing a second trustee signature and couldn't open the account (the trust documents have only one signature, the grantor). I explained this to them and my flagship rep basically said the processing people were asking for signatures from all potential future trustees - when I explained they had already set up the identical revocable trust with the prior paperwork, he started stuttering and didn't know what to say. I politely explained we would be gone if this wasn't set up in 24 hours like the prior one and it was, but service is lacking and people have no idea what they are doing. As a point of reference I have set up similar trusts for CDs with synchrony and other banks online with no issues. I just opened a Fidelity trust three days ago, dropped of the paperwork, the gentleman looked at it to make sure everything looked ok, and it was set up in 24 hours - I am impressed with Fidelity's service as well as being able to reach knowledgable indviduals or forwarded to specialists in certain areas to help you, and their chat system works pretty well online as well.
RadAudit
Posts: 3971
Joined: Mon May 26, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Second star on the right and straight on 'til morning

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by RadAudit »

Good news! Your gripes have been answered. You won't have your Flagship Rep to kick around anymore. I just got an e-mail saying they were going to a team approach.
We want to make you aware of a change to how you'll interact with Flagship Services. Within the next few weeks, you’ll have direct access to a team of Flagship representatives rather than working exclusively with your assigned representative. You'll still receive the same level of service you've come to expect from our reps—who are trained to handle the unique needs of high-net-worth investors like you.

We're making this change for several reasons:


• To respond to client feedback. Many clients have told us that they don't need to have an assigned representative as long as they get the help they need, when they need it.

• To provide more tailored service. Whenever you're facing a complex situation or change in circumstances, our reps will still coordinate personalized, expert help that's tailored to your needs. If at any time you'd like to have an assigned representative again, please let us know.

• To increase accessibility. Your team of Flagship reps is ready to help you meet your needs.

Your other Flagship® benefits won't change

You'll still enjoy the exclusive benefits available to Flagship clients, including:


• Financial advice from a Certified Financial Planner™ professional through Vanguard Personal Advisor Services®—anytime. Our advisors can also help you with specific investment questions or provide ongoing advisory and portfolio management services.

• Commission-free Vanguard mutual fund and Vanguard ETF® (exchange-traded fund) trades, and 25 commission-free trades for stocks, options, non-Vanguard ETFs, and transaction-fee funds.*

• Access to select Vanguard mutual funds that are closed to other investors.

Thank you for your continued confidence and for entrusting your assets to us.

Sincerely,

Your Vanguard Flagship Services Team
Last edited by RadAudit on Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
FI is the best revenge. LBYM. Invest the rest. Stay the course. - PS: The cavalry isn't coming, kids. You are on your own.
kiddoc
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2015 10:52 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by kiddoc »

RadAudit wrote:I just got an e-mail saying they were going to a team approach.
I hope things get better and not worse. So far, my experience with Vanguard is that team-work is non-existent there. 3 reps called about the same issue have no clue what the previous communications entailed and provide completely different answers to the same questions.
"The four most dangerous words in investing are: 'this time it's different.'" - Sir John Templeton
sambb
Posts: 2966
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2013 3:31 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by sambb »

in_reality wrote:
Choy wrote:
MrFlish wrote: I've got what I assume will be a simple creation of a new account and transfer of an existing tax deferred IRA (old employer) from my current institution to Vanguard. I'll be retiring an a few months and will transfer my existing 401k to the Vanguard account. It's certainly a bit un-nerving given that it's an enormous chunk of your life's savings but I feel like this has given me a heads up so I'll be more diligent as things get set up.
Vanguard may drop the ball with customer service every now and then, but they will ultimately make you whole. I feel very secure with my holdings at Vanguard and would still recommend them to others.
Maybe. I had about 1% of my assets go missing. I received a trade confirmation saying the trade went through and my cash for the purchase disappeared, but the shares never made it into my account.

I only noticed the balance difference because I'd been checking daily (bad me perhaps) and didn't understand why my portfolio didn't go up when the market did.

So yes, Vanguard eventually did make me whole but what if I hadn't noticed?

Anyway, Vanguard terminated my account after I insisted that they change their system to ensure they issue correct trade confirmations. There is no way my wife would ever have noticed and it's my job to make sure the assets are protected for her.

Never looked up my Flagship Rep in FINRA, but I think it was just system error. IT systems cost money and Vanguard executives are incentivized on reducing costs. Simple as that. The Vanguard promise of interests being aligned didn't work for me. I wanted correct accounting.

WOW. Whats the point of a low expense ration if money can just disappear? WOW.
User avatar
in_reality
Posts: 4529
Joined: Fri Jul 12, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by in_reality »

sambb wrote:
in_reality wrote:
Choy wrote:
MrFlish wrote: I've got what I assume will be a simple creation of a new account and transfer of an existing tax deferred IRA (old employer) from my current institution to Vanguard. I'll be retiring an a few months and will transfer my existing 401k to the Vanguard account. It's certainly a bit un-nerving given that it's an enormous chunk of your life's savings but I feel like this has given me a heads up so I'll be more diligent as things get set up.
Vanguard may drop the ball with customer service every now and then, but they will ultimately make you whole. I feel very secure with my holdings at Vanguard and would still recommend them to others.
Maybe. I had about 1% of my assets go missing. I received a trade confirmation saying the trade went through and my cash for the purchase disappeared, but the shares never made it into my account.

I only noticed the balance difference because I'd been checking daily (bad me perhaps) and didn't understand why my portfolio didn't go up when the market did.

So yes, Vanguard eventually did make me whole but what if I hadn't noticed?

Anyway, Vanguard terminated my account after I insisted that they change their system to ensure they issue correct trade confirmations. There is no way my wife would ever have noticed and it's my job to make sure the assets are protected for her.

Never looked up my Flagship Rep in FINRA, but I think it was just system error. IT systems cost money and Vanguard executives are incentivized on reducing costs. Simple as that. The Vanguard promise of interests being aligned didn't work for me. I wanted correct accounting.

WOW. Whats the point of a low expense ration if money can just disappear? WOW.
In all honesty, even if that amount had disappeared, I'd be better off than were I was losing it every year to AUM fees.

And it didn't disappear. It went into someone else's estate, trust and IRA. (it happened in several of my accounts and went different places). I know this because my accounts were retitled as being part of an estate and part of a trust and in the case of the IRA, had that person named as my beneficiary. They did the retitling I believe to get the money moved back.

Vanguard is a truly exceptional, outstanding company. They are victims of their own success. I'm not suggesting anyone throw the baby out with the bath water or than anyplace else is better (my experience is probably particularly unusual). Just the truth about what can happen in an account. Their IT system gave me wrong trade transaction confirmations from the initial transfer in and problems cascaded from there such what within a month I was working on a transfer to Schwab.
mall0c
Posts: 1038
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 11:04 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by mall0c »

I have never had a good service experience with Vanguard. I frankly wish they'd keep a few extra basis points and fix their customer service.
AQ
Posts: 494
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2008 11:38 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by AQ »

This is pretty scary stuff... I had my share of bad experiences and this and other similar threads make me really concerned. I just wish Vanguard wakes up and starts to fix things. In the meantime, I have stopped sending new money to Vanguard, to minimize my exposure, and minimize chances for problems..
Kohaku
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:42 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Kohaku »

TMCD75 wrote:I read somewhere that Vanguard is experiencing MASSIVE growth. It's that growth that is apparently hurting customer service. Vanguard is catching billions of dollars that is fleeing active management models.

I only have around 300k invested with Vanguard, but they've been good on all of my requests.
I'm closer to a tenth of that and my experience has been the same so far.

But then again, n=1 and my level of service is probably not comparable to OP's.
User avatar
Topic Author
blueman2
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Nov 30, 2015 9:50 pm

How can we get this message to Vanguard leadership?

Post by blueman2 »

Almost every company I know of has a published process to get issues raised directly with their leadership. Often an 'Office of the CEO' email address for people to use when all else fails. Many even freely share the email address of their CEO and have a team of people reading, prioritizing and forwarding mail going to this address. I think Vanguard is one of the rare public facing companies that completely hides and blocks any easy access for communicating to their executive leadership. That alone says quite a bit about how little Vanguard cares for customer service. They don't want the feedback, so they make it impossible for us to get it to them.

Even as a Flagship Select customer, I have no ability to jump directly to their leadership with my concerns. At least, I see no way to do this.
jprivott
Posts: 21
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2015 9:03 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by jprivott »

Glad to hear I'm not the only one. For the past year I've gotten conflicting information about the necessary steps to transfer an inherited IRA over to my Vanguard account. Despite my gut saying otherwise, I followed the instructions of a rep who said "We can take care of everything, just complete XYZ paperwork"...well, no. The account had to be in my name at the other institution first, causing a major holdup and subsequent tax penalty because I didn't do that. Live and learn on my part, but I asked multiple Vanguard reps (in the Trusts department) about this and got the same erroneous advice (part of a long string of bad advice from both institutions, I'll add).
Growth will hopefully only benefit us all when it comes to options, although it will never supplant the need for self-advocacy :sharebeer
Quark
Posts: 1045
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2015 5:32 pm

Re: How can we get this message to Vanguard leadership?

Post by Quark »

blueman2 wrote:Almost every company I know of has a published process to get issues raised directly with their leadership. Often an 'Office of the CEO' email address for people to use when all else fails. Many even freely share the email address of their CEO and have a team of people reading, prioritizing and forwarding mail going to this address. I think Vanguard is one of the rare public facing companies that completely hides and blocks any easy access for communicating to their executive leadership. That alone says quite a bit about how little Vanguard cares for customer service. They don't want the feedback, so they make it impossible for us to get it to them.

Even as a Flagship Select customer, I have no ability to jump directly to their leadership with my concerns. At least, I see no way to do this.
The names of their CEO, other executive officers and board are easily available. The first google hit I got for vanguard executive officers is https://about.vanguard.com/who-we-are/our-leaders/

Vanguard's physical address and phone numbers are even easier to find.

How have you tried to find this info? Searching the web? Calling and asking how to contact the CEO?
drzzzzz
Posts: 594
Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2012 9:56 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by drzzzzz »

I tried getting through to the CEO William McNabb's office and was told the phone operators take messages and pass them on to his assistant, but are unable to connect customers with his office. There are no ways to email directly that I am aware of and in my case, no one from his office or from corporate ever bothered to call me back with my concerns - it is why I have started to only use ETF of Vanguard products rather than mutual funds so they can easily be transferred to another custodian in the future if I decide to do that. You can also convert many Vanguard mutual funds to the underlying ETF if there is one available without a tax liability and with keeping the basis the same.
multiham
Posts: 331
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 11:28 am

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by multiham »

For those of us old enough to remember when Sears and Kmart were relevant retailers, this is starting to sound all too familiar. Neither of these retailers invested in logistics or in store systems to stay up to date with technology. Out of a few stores in Arkansas came WalMart who improved on the retail environment by investing in systems and using data to understand what their customers wanted and delivering the lowest price. This worked great for many years until others found ways to either match or come close to their pricing and offer a better shopping experience with better customer service. Now all the brick and mortar stores are reeling under the pressure from Amazon. Ultimate convenience, low prices, ultra fast deliveries, and great return process. Sears and Kmart don't have a point of difference and will be gone soon. WalMart is hurting with negative to low comp store growth and Amazon is growing just like WalMart did in the 90's.

I really hope Vanguard looks around and realizes that Schwab and Fidelity have matched their costs and taken away that point of difference. The next point I look for is service and based on this thread it doesn't look good unless you are fully confident in doing everything on line yourself. While I'm very comfortable ordering a $15 book on Amazon, I'm much less confident about filling out paperwork on major financial assets without some level of help.

I'm really hoping Vanguard has a 10 year business plan on how they are going to change with the times and innovate to stay relevant.
User avatar
Sheepdog
Posts: 5664
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 3:05 pm
Location: Indiana, retired 1998 at age 65

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Sheepdog »

I haven't followed this conversation as I am not a "Flagship" client and I haven't needed to be as I can get the same bad service in the lesser investor rankings. Since I am here I will copy a conversation I made this week at Morningstar's Bogleheads Unite to show that. And it shows that poor service is not something new. The bad service reported here was in 2013.

Yes, Vanguard's service can be terrible. Here is a correspondence I had with them nearly 4 years ago (edited for privacy). Their service problems are not new. I could send you another correspondence from another period, but one is enough.

This email was sent by me to Vanguard on June 28, 2013.
Every 3 months, for over a year, I have reported to Vanguard this problem. Every time there was an apology and that it will not happen again. It has happened again this quarter for the 5th time.

In Rollover IRA account 099xxxxxx, the dividends for Fund 0527 Wellesley Income Fund are supposed to be invested into Fund 0039 Short-Term Investment Grade Bond Fund. Instead, EACH TIME, it was invested in 0030 Money Market Fund which I no longer use.

Then on April 09, 2013 I received this message from Vanguard...(I wish there was a name of the agent so I could respond to him/her.)

"Dear Mr. Wood,
Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Thank you for reporting your dividend issue to us. We have researched the situation and were able to determine that there was an issue with our back-end system which we have resolved. Going forward your dividends from your Vanguard Wellesley Income Fund within your Rollover IRA will be transferred into your Short-Term Investment Grade Fund within the same account. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Sincerely,
Vanguard Retail Investor Group"

This brings us to today, 6/28/2013. I am very upset. A year...A YEAR...of reporting this. I get apologies each quarter. I am told that it will not happen again. It happens again after each dividend issuance.

I want this message to be seen by your manager and I want that manager to correspond with me. After a year, I have lost my patience.

I will be away on vacation from 6/30/2013 thru 7/6/2013. I expect to receive proper communication after I return, although, if I would receive that today saying that this transaction will be corrected and that it is guaranteed that this will not happen again, I would obviously accept that.

Thank you.
My comment today in 2017: Result: I did not receive a proper communication (email) when I did return from that vacation, but the requested process was finally initiated in the following quarterly September distributions.....it took a year and a half to follow my request.

Frustrating, yes, but I still love Vanguard.
I want to say that I appreciate what Vanguard has given to me and my retirement health. In my early days almost all communication was by U.S. Mail so if things are slow today, it is still better than in the 70s and 80s.
All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
User avatar
ebeard
Posts: 193
Joined: Wed May 18, 2011 5:51 pm
Location: Jacksonville, FL

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by ebeard »

I also must recommend the secure message to setup an appointment. My flagship reps, I've had 2, since 2000 have always been knowledgeable and helpful.
3 core funds. Don't just do something, stand there.
Grogs
Posts: 667
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:55 pm

Re: Wow, Vanguard Flagship service is bad. Really bad.

Post by Grogs »

One note on costs. My understanding is that Vanguard funds are required to cover the cost of running the particular fund in the ER. That is, they can only lower the ER of VTSAX from 0.05 to 0.04 if it covers the costs of trading, record keeping, fund managers, etc. Other companies can run funds as loss leaders and cover the costs from other, higher expense funds if desired. While it's not likely to occur when there is so much competition for the low-ER index fund market, they could always decide to stop subsidizing those low ERs in the future.

On Vanguard CS, I would echo others that I would be willing to pay a slightly higher ER to ensure the reps are knowledgeable if I do need help. I recently saw that VG had topped $4T assets under management. A 1 basis point increase in ERs would therefore provide about $400MM annually. Even just not lowering the ERs of funds for a few years could probably generate a significant fraction of that to use for recruiting and retaining better news, and upgrading the online system.
User avatar
Cosmo
Posts: 1254
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:46 pm

Re: Consumer Reports: "Vanguard Does it Best"

Post by Cosmo »

Taylor Larimore wrote:Bogleheads:

With millions of customers, any company will make mistakes and fall-short of 100% good service. This forum is a logical place to vent anger and disappointment.

The September 2016 issue of Consumer Reports did a survey of more than 150,000 investment company readers asking about:

Investment returns
Met goals
Customer Service
Advice
Online Reports

Vanguard ranked #1 of the 31 companies rated.

Best wishes.
Taylor
It could be worse. A lot worse. Thanks for keeping things in proper perspective, Taylor.

Cosmo
Post Reply