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Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:21 pm
by sawhorse
I logged into my Vanguard account for the first time in a long time and saw that they had deducted $20 from each account because the balance was less than $10k. This fee is assessed to people who don't have electronic delivery of documents.

I signed up for electronic delivery. I have not received anything in the mail from them for over a year.

I go in today and see that they have charged the fee with the option of reversing the fee if I signed up before September 5. As I hadn't logged into my account, this date passed without me knowing that they had assessed a fee, and in any case I already signed up a long time ago.

What should I do? I'm so angry about this.

Edit: I meant $20 for each fund in each account.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:25 pm
by samsmith
Call them up and explain what happened. See if they will reverse charges if you sign up. N

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:27 pm
by delamer
I'd call and explain the situation. Do you have any e-mails confirming your signing up for electronic delivery or any of the actual e-mails with a deliverable that would be proof?

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:31 pm
by ResearchMed
sawhorse wrote: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:21 pm I logged into my Vanguard account for the first time in a long time and saw that they had deducted $20 from each account because the balance was less than $10k. This fee is assessed to people who don't have electronic delivery of documents.

I signed up for electronic delivery. I have not received anything in the mail from them for over a year.

I go in today and see that they have charged the fee with the option of reversing the fee if I signed up before September 5. As I hadn't logged into my account, this date passed without me knowing that they had assessed a fee, and in any case I already signed up a long time ago.

What should I do? I'm so angry about this.
Have you been getting the electronic delivery you signed up for?
If so, that should be evidence that they should reverse all charges that should have been waived (which I think is almost all charges, although there are a few charges like transaction fees that aren't included in that waiver).

Is this part of an IRA or a 403b/401k?
(On rare occasions when Vanguard has screwed up, we've needed to ask Employer to intervene, and *then* things got fixed. Grrrr.)

RM

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:44 pm
by sawhorse
ResearchMed wrote: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:31 pm
sawhorse wrote: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:21 pm I logged into my Vanguard account for the first time in a long time and saw that they had deducted $20 from each account because the balance was less than $10k. This fee is assessed to people who don't have electronic delivery of documents.

I signed up for electronic delivery. I have not received anything in the mail from them for over a year.

I go in today and see that they have charged the fee with the option of reversing the fee if I signed up before September 5. As I hadn't logged into my account, this date passed without me knowing that they had assessed a fee, and in any case I already signed up a long time ago.

What should I do? I'm so angry about this.
Have you been getting the electronic delivery you signed up for?
If so, that should be evidence that they should reverse all charges that should have been waived (which I think is almost all charges, although there are a few charges like transaction fees that aren't included in that waiver).

Is this part of an IRA or a 403b/401k?
(On rare occasions when Vanguard has screwed up, we've needed to ask Employer to intervene, and *then* things got fixed. Grrrr.)

RM
It's an IRA. I get emails from Vanguard all the time, but I don't know if they are the electronic documents required to waive the fee. I delete my emails from them.

Whatever the case, I clearly remember signing up for electronic delivery after getting assessed the fee last year.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:10 am
by sawhorse
I don't know if this is standard procedure, but I thought I'd mention it. I have two IRA accounts there. Some of the funds overlap. For funds that are in both accounts, they charged me $20 per account for a total of $40 for that fund rather than treating it as a single fund for both accounts.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:51 am
by celia
It is possible that these fees started when your account was migrated to the new platform and the settings didn't carry over (some don't). If that's the case, a simple phone call to Vanguard should fix it.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:23 am
by SpringMan
If they don't fix it, it makes sense to find another investment firm, for example, Fidelity.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:05 am
by staythecourse
Just curious why would you ask us (a random internet forum) instead of just calling Vanguard themselves and discussing the issue with them?

Good luck.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:16 am
by stan1
Call them. Tell them you set up the accounts for electronic delivery and are surprised by the charges. Don't tell them you ignore all the emails Vanguard sends you. Ask them to restore the service fees and make sure the accounts are set up properly for electronic delivery so this doesn't happen again.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:19 am
by neilpilot
sawhorse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:10 am For funds that are in both accounts, they charged me $20 per account for a total of $40 for that fund rather than treating it as a single fund for both accounts.
Not saying you should have been charged any fee, but it certainly makes sense that the same investment is treated separately in each of the 2 accounts. I wouldn't expect anything different.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:26 am
by Jack FFR1846
staythecourse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:05 am Just curious why would you ask us (a random internet forum) instead of just calling Vanguard themselves and discussing the issue with them?

Good luck.
He's probably posting here....and reddit....and MMM forums while on hold with Vanguard.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:31 am
by KlingKlang
staythecourse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:05 am Just curious why would you ask us (a random internet forum) instead of just calling Vanguard themselves and discussing the issue with them?

Good luck.
For issues like this it can be useful to get a group consensus of whether this was a mistake by Vanguard or a standard practice that everyone has to put up with.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:32 am
by climber2020
sawhorse wrote: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:21 pm I logged into my Vanguard account for the first time in a long time and saw that they had deducted $20 from each account because the balance was less than $10k. This fee is assessed to people who don't have electronic delivery of documents.

I signed up for electronic delivery. I have not received anything in the mail from them for over a year.

I go in today and see that they have charged the fee with the option of reversing the fee if I signed up before September 5. As I hadn't logged into my account, this date passed without me knowing that they had assessed a fee, and in any case I already signed up a long time ago.

What should I do? I'm so angry about this.

Edit: I meant $20 for each fund in each account.
I manage my mother's Vanguard account and the same thing happened with her. Here's what happened:

She got an email a few months ago stating that she could sign up for paperless delivery to avoid the $20 per account fee. So I signed her up. She gets another email a month later stating the exact same thing. So I go back online and recheck and everything seems fine. September 5 rolls around and her accounts get charged $20 a piece. I email Vanguard, and they state that there was some kind of e-delivery consent that needed to be signed for the change to go into effect. In order to access this consent form, I had to go to the delivery options, change at least one option back to snail mail, save, and then change back to paperless. This sequence of events finally brought up the consent form. I was able to get it set up properly with their help, but it was strange that there was no mention of the e-delivery consent the first few times I attempted to convert the accounts to paperless. Going forward it shouldn't be a problem, but what a janky, convoluted process.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:35 am
by student
climber2020 wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:32 am
sawhorse wrote: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:21 pm I logged into my Vanguard account for the first time in a long time and saw that they had deducted $20 from each account because the balance was less than $10k. This fee is assessed to people who don't have electronic delivery of documents.

I signed up for electronic delivery. I have not received anything in the mail from them for over a year.

I go in today and see that they have charged the fee with the option of reversing the fee if I signed up before September 5. As I hadn't logged into my account, this date passed without me knowing that they had assessed a fee, and in any case I already signed up a long time ago.

What should I do? I'm so angry about this.

Edit: I meant $20 for each fund in each account.
I manage my mother's Vanguard account and the same thing happened with her. Here's what happened:

She got an email a few months ago stating that she could sign up for paperless delivery to avoid the $20 per account fee. So I signed her up. She gets another email a month later stating the exact same thing. So I go back online and recheck and everything seems fine. September 5 rolls around and her accounts get charged $20 a piece. I email Vanguard, and they state that there was some kind of e-delivery consent that needed to be signed for the change to go into effect. In order to access this consent form, I had to go to the delivery options, change at least one option back to snail mail, save, and then change back to paperless. This sequence of events finally brought up the consent form. I was able to get it set up properly with their help, but it was strange that there was no mention of the e-delivery consent the first few times I attempted to convert the accounts to paperless. Going forward it shouldn't be a problem, but what a janky, convoluted process.
Did they refund the charges?

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:38 am
by climber2020
student wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:35 am Did they refund the charges?
They refused. To be honest, it wasn't worth my time to spend much effort on this. I wondered if others had the same problems though. Apparently yes.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:53 am
by neilpilot
It's threads like this that confirm my decision when I retired in 2015 NOT to consolidate our accounts with Vanguard.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:47 am
by Rupert
KlingKlang wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:31 am
staythecourse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:05 am Just curious why would you ask us (a random internet forum) instead of just calling Vanguard themselves and discussing the issue with them?

Good luck.
For issues like this it can be useful to get a group consensus of whether this was a mistake by Vanguard or a standard practice that everyone has to put up with.
I appreciate being alerted to this practice by Vanguard so that I can check my account for unusual charges. I might have missed it otherwise.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:48 am
by dbr
neilpilot wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:53 am It's threads like this that confirm my decision when I retired in 2015 NOT to consolidate our accounts with Vanguard.
Yeah, I am satisfied holding mostly Vanguard funds or ETFs not at Vanguard.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:34 am
by Just sayin...
staythecourse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:05 am Just curious why would you ask us (a random internet forum) instead of just calling Vanguard themselves and discussing the issue with them?

Good luck.
Likely, because many of the members here are Vanguard fans and have all kinds of experience with them. It’s called research.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:26 pm
by Wyatt007
climber2020 wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:38 am
student wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:35 am Did they refund the charges?
They refused. To be honest, it wasn't worth my time to spend much effort on this. I wondered if others had the same problems though. Apparently yes.
I had the exact same experience this week. Found out I had been charged $40.00 on two small tIRA accounts even though I am 100% positive I had already signed up for eDelivery last year. I had to go through the same song and dance re changing the account settings to sign the "consent agreement" and re-sign up for eDelivery.

For the time being I am staying put but the whole experience left a really bad taste in my mouth.

Disputes

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:37 pm
by Taylor Larimore
Bogleheads:

In my experience, it is important to have disputes with any company in writing (e-mail, fax, snail mail).

A telephone call with an entry-level telephone operator can be misunderstood by both parties.

Best wishes.
Taylor

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:10 pm
by Whakamole
Just sayin... wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:34 am
staythecourse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:05 am Just curious why would you ask us (a random internet forum) instead of just calling Vanguard themselves and discussing the issue with them?

Good luck.
Likely, because many of the members here are Vanguard fans and have all kinds of experience with them. It’s called research.
In that case, I didn't have this issue.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:39 pm
by staythecourse
Just sayin... wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:34 am
staythecourse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:05 am Just curious why would you ask us (a random internet forum) instead of just calling Vanguard themselves and discussing the issue with them?

Good luck.
Likely, because many of the members here are Vanguard fans and have all kinds of experience with them. It’s called research.
Okay that makes even less sense. A person has the time to want to get a collective decision on a topic that takes probably 10x longer then just calling the person who could give you the answer. Which in the end no matter what the collective answer will be will still lead to calling Vanguard to either debate with the info. gleaned from this query on this site OR verify if we are actually correct if it is an answer the OP does not like? So either way there will be a call to Vanguard.

Makes no sense.

No offense to the OP, but just call Vanguard and get your answer. One of the important things I have learned in life is to skip all middleman as much as possible and always go to the authoritative source as much as possible.

Good luck.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:57 pm
by arcticpineapplecorp.
Can I ask why you have 7 funds that each have less than $10,000 in them ($20 annual fee X 7 funds = $140 in fees)? Can I also ask what the 7 funds are that you are invested in? I'm only asking because I assume you're overcomplicating things, especially in lieu of the small balances in each of the funds (total in all 7 accounts would be around $63,000 I would guess, assuming $9000 in each?)

I'm not sure that all these extra funds are warranted considering the small amounts in each of them. If one fund goes up 10% and another goes up 20% one fund made $900 and the other $1800. Not a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, and yet having all these funds will require rebalancing on your part.

Also, if you have $63,000 in total then to avoid the $20 fee you'd want to have 6 funds or less, right?

Best of all, use a target date retirement fund. It will give you access to four funds in one, be ultra simple, require no rebalancing, and avoid the $20 fee. What could be better?

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:35 pm
by sawhorse
arcticpineapplecorp. wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:57 pm Can I ask why you have 7 funds that each have less than $10,000 in them ($20 annual fee X 7 funds = $140 in fees)? Can I also ask what the 7 funds are that you are invested in? I'm only asking because I assume you're overcomplicating things, especially in lieu of the small balances in each of the funds (total in all 7 accounts would be around $63,000 I would guess, assuming $9000 in each?)
I'm not sure that all these extra funds are warranted considering the small amounts in each of them. If one fund goes up 10% and another goes up 20% one fund made $900 and the other $1800. Not a huge difference in the grand scheme of things, and yet having all these funds will require rebalancing on your part.

Also, if you have $63,000 in total then to avoid the $20 fee you'd want to have 6 funds or less, right?

Best of all, use a target date retirement fund. It will give you access to four funds in one, be ultra simple, require no rebalancing, and avoid the $20 fee. What could be better?
Like I said, I have 2 IRA accounts that overlap with funds, and they charged per fund per account. I hold Wellesley, Total World Stock, and Total Bond in both. I hold Wellington in one of them. All of them are near the minimum of $3000 required to hold the fund.

Of course if I knew they would wrongly charge me I wouldn't have my accounts set up this way. I might switch them over to a target fund now even though I don't like that they added international bonds and constantly change the allocation glide path. Actually I might switch them over to another fund provider :annoyed . Love me some Wellesley though so I'll probably keep one account open for Wellesley.
staythecourse wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:39 pm Okay that makes even less sense. A person has the time to want to get a collective decision on a topic that takes probably 10x longer then just calling the person who could give you the answer. Which in the end no matter what the collective answer will be will still lead to calling Vanguard to either debate with the info. gleaned from this query on this site OR verify if we are actually correct if it is an answer the OP does not like? So either way there will be a call to Vanguard.

Makes no sense.

No offense to the OP, but just call Vanguard and get your answer. One of the important things I have learned in life is to skip all middleman as much as possible and always go to the authoritative source as much as possible.

Good luck.
I wanted to know if others had the same problem and whether/how they resolved it, what they said/did that did or did not work.

Like you said, go to the authoritative source. Who is the authoritative source in this case? I've called Vanguard in the past and been bounced around from department to department, person to person. Wouldn't it be better if I could call and ask to speak to a specific person or department?

It only took a few minutes to write the thread when I couldn't call anyway because it was Sunday night, and it could save me time in the long run. Also because of this thread I received the very helpful tip from Taylor (thanks Taylor!) about doing this in writing rather than over the phone. I've sent them a secure message and am awaiting their response.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:16 pm
by BrandonBogle
This thread made me look b/c the only fee I've noticed is my $7 quarterly fee in my 401k (I'm no longer w/ that employer, or else the fee wouldn't be assessed). I do have an IRA there with about $7k in TSM though and haven't been charged a fee (and wasn't expecting to be either), so I dug further and saw this:
Vanguard at https://personal.vanguard.com/us/funds/snapshot?FundId=0085&FundIntExt=INT#tab=3 wrote: Nonretirement accounts, traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, UGMAs/UTMAs, SEP-IRAs, and education savings accounts (ESAs)
We charge a $20 annual account service fee for each Vanguard Brokerage Account, as well as each individual Vanguard mutual fund holding with a balance of less than $10,000 in an account. This fee does not apply if you sign up for account access on vanguard.com and choose electronic delivery of statements, confirmations, and Vanguard fund reports and prospectuses. This fee also does not apply to members of Flagship Select™, Flagship®, Voyager Select®, and Voyager® Services.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:04 pm
by peetsperk
Based on the very limited information provided by sawhorse, I'm not ready to toss Vanguard under the bus on this one. Often times these days people want to jump on social media or an online forum to plead their case before doing their homework to determine exactly what has happened (seek first to understand). In this situation, doesn't fairness require sawhorse to at least contact Vanguard first to confirm that he did indeed request electronic delivery for each fund/account in his portfolio and have them provide the specific dates the requests were made? In addition, he states it's been a long time since he checked his account. How long has it actually been (weeks, months or years)? Again, Vanguard can tell him the exact date he last logged into his account. Before I take a position one way or the other, my request would be that sawhorse gather this information and then update this forum with the specific facts. Good luck sawhorse and I hope you are able to determine why you were billed these unjustified or justified fees.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:28 am
by in_reality
dccboone wrote: Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:04 pm Based on the very limited information provided by sawhorse, I'm not ready to toss Vanguard under the bus on this one. Often times these days people want to jump on social media or an online forum to plead their case before doing their homework to determine exactly what has happened (seek first to understand). In this situation, doesn't fairness require sawhorse to at least contact Vanguard first to confirm that he did indeed request electronic delivery for each fund/account in his portfolio and have them provide the specific dates the requests were made? In addition, he states it's been a long time since he checked his account. How long has it actually been (weeks, months or years)? Again, Vanguard can tell him the exact date he last logged into his account. Before I take a position one way or the other, my request would be that sawhorse gather this information and then update this forum with the specific facts. Good luck sawhorse and I hope you are able to determine why you were billed these unjustified or justified fees.
Unfortunately Vanguard often isn't forthcoming about why things happen.

Anyway, of what relevance is the length of time the OP hasn't logged in? Is there a policy stating that they will revert back to statements if you don't log in periodically?

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:43 am
by samtex
Vanguard hasn't charged me a fee but I did get several letters on different accounts saying they had switched me over to mailing my information since they were having issues with their emails going through. I checked my spam folders and nothing from Vanguard was there. I went into my accounts and verified the email was correct. I went ahead and clicked on new email address and retyped the same address again. I received a confirmation via email saying I had changed my preference. I didn't bother calling. If I had under $10,000 in any of those accounts, I might have also been charged the fee though.

Samtex

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 10:00 am
by climber2020
Hey everyone. I wanted to post an update on this situation.

Vanguard sent an email recently stating that all the $20 service fees were reversed. I checked the account and it indeed took place.

Re: Vanguard charged me $140 in service fees

Posted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:44 pm
by sawhorse
Good news! I sent Vanguard a message using their secure messaging system. There appears to have been a mistake, so they are refunding me. They didn't explain how this happened but did say that they had to reset all my mailing preferences, so I have to go in and sign up for electronic delivery again. If I don't see the charges refunded, I'll update.