Recent Vanguard Trouble

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in_reality
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Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by in_reality »

As a courtesy to those curious about service at Vanguard, here is a list of (experienced in or unresolved as of) 1.2016 problems cited there.

(problem)
(# affected i.e. one person or common problem)
(link)

1) Unauthorized trades on VBS upgrade
Single Issue
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=182187

2) Vanguard Direct Deposit Source Changed from actual source
Common Problem
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=183549&newpost=2784571

3) Wrong cost basis method used by Vanguard
Common Problem
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=181258

4) [Vanguard Online Access Problems] (everyone locked out for security reasons)
Common problem
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=183422&start=50

5) Transfers mischaracterized (ex. Money put in IRA and not ROTH, money pulled from bank - not rolled over, etc. )
Common problem
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=168726#p2745058
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=183761
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=168726#p2745618
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=184379&newpost=2798355#p2798348
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=185197 [2.2016]

6) ACH issues in scheduled pull from credit union
Single issue
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=180970

7) Unable to make a contribution to an IRA (funds disappear)
Single Issue
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=168726&start=50#p2755452
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=185304

8) No response to secure messages (2.2016)
Single Issue
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=184379&newpost=2796855

9) Website struggles on high volume days (impacting TLH, automatic reinvestment settings etc.) (2.2016)
Common Issue
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=184401

10) Security code erroneously sent (making it appear someone tried to log in with your username and password) 2.2016
Common Issue
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=184394&newpost=2797064#p2797018

11) Misinformation from telephone reps 2.2016
Single Issue
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=184490&newpost=2798393#p2798393

12) Brokerage Account Restricted and Purged (for converting to Admiral Shares then transferring them) 2.2016
Single Issue
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=185124

13) Dividends reinvested when sweep capital gains and dividends specified 1.2016
Single Issue
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=183629&newpost=280 ... 0#p2808720

14) Brokerage Transactions not shown in YTD or Quarter-to-Date views
Single Issue (likely Common though)
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=185124&newpost=2809209#p2809127

15) Names and Transaction Confirmation Details Sent to Wrong Party
Single issue
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=185492

16) SpecID Sale not Possible for Non-covered Shares in Brokerage Account
Common issue (policy)
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=185553

[The purpose is not to complain or sway usage, but rather simply list issues. I personally can easily catch mistakes, but had experiences where I know my spouse wouldn't have been able to. People seem to have years of experience without any trouble, but that surely wasn't me]
Last edited by in_reality on Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:35 am, edited 16 times in total.
betterfinances
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by betterfinances »

My opinion is that Vanguard is slowly breaking due to antiquated technology.

I don't care for their web interface. It seems so, oh, 2005ish. There are a lot newer web interfaces out there and Vanguard could do much better.

I would really like my personal performance to go back more years, like since I first opened an account. 10 years is better than 5, but not long enough for me. Since I dollar cost average, it's really interesting to compare how my personal performance compares to the index as a whole. Over a long enough span, it is indicative of future performance and helpful for retirement planning.

I've heard that there is a new way of handling accounts that will change the personal performance data. I am not going to roll over to the new accounts until they make me because I don't want to lose this data.

Not listing the correct source for a direct deposit is just silly. I don't really care but it indicates that their computer systems aren't working quite right.

I hope that Vanguard is around for the long haul but they'll need to invest in their technology sooner or later.
victork
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by victork »

Didn't I just hear that Vanguard has 20,000,000 accounts?
How many errors per account does that make?
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Rob5TCP
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Rob5TCP »

I skimmed this article quickly and though this happened to the poster.
Then after calming down a bit- I read the article.
As stated: with 20,000,000 accounts and figure 10 transactions a year (including interest postings, etc)
that's 200,000,000. If they are 99.9999% accurate they will still have 200 plus transactions that are incorrect each year.
I doubt any company is 99.9999% accurate.
betterfinances
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by betterfinances »

Rob5TCP wrote:I skimmed this article quickly and though this happened to the poster.
Then after calming down a bit- I read the article.
As stated: with 20,000,000 accounts and figure 10 transactions a year (including interest postings, etc)
that's 200,000,000. If they are 99.9999% accurate they will still have 200 plus transactions that are incorrect each year.
I doubt any company is 99.9999% accurate.
It's not that there is an issue with one of my transactions (although they are all electronic so there shouldn't be an issue). It's the fact that the source of my direct deposit got changed from the right company to something completely wrong. This indicates that there is some lines of code in the Vanguard system that is broken, and either they haven't noticed (which makes one wonder how much stuff goes about getting unnoticed), or they have noticed and they have no budget to fix it, or the code is so messed up it will take forever to fix it.

With electronic systems, there is no reason why companies shouldn't be 100% accurate. It is not humans entering data. It is machines that are processing things electronic. For transactions that require human intervention, they should have an accurate system of checks and balances to make sure that everything is entered accurately.
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jhfenton
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by jhfenton »

Vanguard is definitely having systems/back-end issues. They have assigned our trouble--chronicled in one of the umbrella customer service threads--to an account repair technician who is supposedly working to fix the cash transfer problems between our taxable account and our Roth IRAs. (We can set up an exchange from Fund A in joint taxable to Fund B in a Roth, but the day after Fund A sells and Fund B buys, the cash transfer glitches and disappears. It even happens with a straight MM to MM transfer between accounts. And it happens when the transfer is entered by a Vanguard rep. I ended up having to do bank transfers into our Roths to cover the debits and a bank transfer out of taxable to replace the money at our bank. The glitch has occurred on all three attempts, including a small test transfer being monitored on Vanguard's end.)

Vanguard's customer service people, though, have been great on the phone. Every single one I've talked to has been helpful. And the same rep calls me up at least once a week to give an update on my account "repair."
Geologist
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Geologist »

I have had customer service issues with every financial institution I have dealt with past and present. This includes Vanguard of course but it also includes many large and small institutions. It is the way life is. Despite the OP's list, we really have no way of knowing whether Vanguard's issues are even more common than generally in the investment industry. This is a site where Vanguard clients congregate so we hear more about their issues.

The notion that somehow "electronic systems" can be 100% accurate is highly optimistic. Every firm has multiple electronic systems, the interfaces are creaky, they all have legacy (old) code somewhere, and there are connections to external computers that aren't completely reliable.
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Rob5TCP
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Rob5TCP »

betterfinances wrote:
Rob5TCP wrote:I skimmed this article quickly and though this happened to the poster.
Then after calming down a bit- I read the article.
As stated: with 20,000,000 accounts and figure 10 transactions a year (including interest postings, etc)
that's 200,000,000. If they are 99.9999% accurate they will still have 200 plus transactions that are incorrect each year.
I doubt any company is 99.9999% accurate.
It's not that there is an issue with one of my transactions (although they are all electronic so there shouldn't be an issue). It's the fact that the source of my direct deposit got changed from the right company to something completely wrong. This indicates that there is some lines of code in the Vanguard system that is broken, and either they haven't noticed (which makes one wonder how much stuff goes about getting unnoticed), or they have noticed and they have no budget to fix it, or the code is so messed up it will take forever to fix it.

With electronic systems, there is no reason why companies shouldn't be 100% accurate. It is not humans entering data. It is machines that are processing things electronic. For transactions that require human intervention, they should have an accurate system of checks and balances to make sure that everything is entered accurately.
Computers will never be 100% accurate - it's humans that do most of the coding. I am a VAR with a software package that has been around 25+ years. A bug was found that went almost 5 years before it affected anyone. On that day, the particular combination of transactions he did; hit it. We could have gone forever without that bug affecting anyone. Software is getting better, but it will never be 100% (ignoring hardware problems which cause errors as well).
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by JDDS »

betterfinances wrote:
Rob5TCP wrote:I skimmed this article quickly and though this happened to the poster.
Then after calming down a bit- I read the article.
As stated: with 20,000,000 accounts and figure 10 transactions a year (including interest postings, etc)
that's 200,000,000. If they are 99.9999% accurate they will still have 200 plus transactions that are incorrect each year.
I doubt any company is 99.9999% accurate.
It's not that there is an issue with one of my transactions (although they are all electronic so there shouldn't be an issue). It's the fact that the source of my direct deposit got changed from the right company to something completely wrong. This indicates that there is some lines of code in the Vanguard system that is broken, and either they haven't noticed (which makes one wonder how much stuff goes about getting unnoticed), or they have noticed and they have no budget to fix it, or the code is so messed up it will take forever to fix it.

With electronic systems, there is no reason why companies shouldn't be 100% accurate. It is not humans entering data. It is machines that are processing things electronic. For transactions that require human intervention, they should have an accurate system of checks and balances to make sure that everything is entered accurately.
Or they know about the problem but they are working on items with higher priority, or they have a fix but it has not made it through the testing phase and into the production system, or, etc.

No system will ever be 100% accurate. This issue got posted to the forum yesterday and so far no one has been able to talk to Vanguard about it. Maybe they know, but maybe they don't.
betterfinances
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by betterfinances »

When people start making threads of threads of people having trouble with Vanguard, that is too many problems in my opinion.
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theduke
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by theduke »

I've been with Vanguard for over 25 years and I'm a happy customer.
Errantflyer
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Errantflyer »

I too have been a loyal Vanguard customer for 25+ years. However, as a result of poor phone service, confusing qualifications required to obtain select levels of service and the comments on this website I have balked at consolidating other accounts under the Vanguard umbrella.

When it comes to my hard-earned money, I want knowledgeable customer service reps and flawless execution.

Is this too much to ask?
alwayshedge
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by alwayshedge »

Errantflyer wrote:I too have been a loyal Vanguard customer for 25+ years. However, as a result of poor phone service, confusing qualifications required to obtain select levels of service and the comments on this website I have balked at consolidating other accounts under the Vanguard umbrella.

When it comes to my hard-earned money, I want knowledgeable customer service reps and flawless execution.

Is this too much to ask?
Agreed although like a poster above mentioned, poor service is just a way of life. I went to open an HSA account at a local credit union last week because they have a very attractive rate (3%). I mentioned to the rep that it should be coded as a rollover. The poor girl behind the desk did not even know what a rollover was. :shock:
inbox788
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by inbox788 »

betterfinances wrote:With electronic systems, there is no reason why companies shouldn't be 100% accurate. It is not humans entering data. It is machines that are processing things electronic. For transactions that require human intervention, they should have an accurate system of checks and balances to make sure that everything is entered accurately.
Shiitake happens. Machines may be 1 million times more accurate than humans but when billions of transactions occur, even machines make mistakes. And then there's the problem that while some transactions are not humans entering data, they are the ones doing the programming. Until the day the computers do their own programming (i.e. AI) is here, humans make mistakes that impact perfect data.

FWIW, last week I opened a Fidelity account and have been receiving paper notices linked to a bad email address. Somewhere along the line the dog ate two characters from my email address. It was perfectly correct in my profile, but somewhere along the line where the notices are sent, there is another email stored. Easy fix, but explanation for what happened is nearly impossible. And unless this happens frequently, they'll never track down the issue. There may be bad code or someone sneezed at the wrong time.

It's not surprising lots of folks here have Vanguard accounts and a few have had issues. If you go to a Cable Sucks forum, I'm sure you'll find more complaints there.
sambb
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by sambb »

I hope vanguard understands that this is not acceptable and they improve. I don't see how this is ok if it happens to you. Is there a flaw? Do they need a consultant to examine their IT? Is there a safety/security/modernization issue? I don't know, but why not investigate as a company and find out?
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David Jay
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by David Jay »

sambb wrote:I hope vanguard understands that this is not acceptable and they improve. I don't see how this is ok if it happens to you. Is there a flaw? Do they need a consultant to examine their IT? Is there a safety/security/modernization issue? I don't know, but why not investigate as a company and find out?
Their IT department likely numbers in the hundreds, including tens of consultants. Anyone who has not seen the inside a high-volume trading system has no clue of the complexity here.
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IPer
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by IPer »

David Jay wrote: Their IT department likely numbers in the hundreds, including tens of consultants. Anyone who has not seen the inside a high-volume trading system has no clue of the complexity here.
I have seen the inside and that was precisely why I had to swallow it all when I decided not to ditch Vanguard because of my initial perceptions
and the reports that followed year after year for the next 10 or so years since I have been using them. Vanguard is one exception to my rule that
if I smell something wrong in the IT department I don't use or rely on that company. My gut tells me there are problems, deep problems, in the
Vanguard IT department. I believe they know it, but there might be internal "reasons" they are not quick to deal with it. They surface from time
to time and it is quite shocking, especially from an organization that size.

Although I have had no real issues with Vanguard other than vagueness and all the observations of others' issues, some of which I have written
off as silly, others pierce me with fear below where my seat is!

I have dealt with Schwab, Fidelity, TDAmeritrade, E*rade, Sharebuilder, Betterment, and some others I won't mention, have forgot or simply
do not want to utter their names! I would say one of the best, technologically run, is TD Ameritrade, though they are around 3 iterations from
the original company I signed up with, which was quite a dinosaur in its day. Schwab seemed impeccable though the reps are very greedy and if
you were one that likes to get advice too bad for you from Schwab, the only fiduciary responsibility they own is their own. All in all I have none
of the reported glitches and so forth I have seen reported on this board. I did "upgrade" 3-4 Vanguard accounts without a hitch as well. I did leave
one not upgraded because they require paperwork on that one for some reason (it is an UTMA), so I will just let them deal with it, as long as it
doesn't mysteriously lose shares I am fine.

Hey Vanguard! I know you read these boards, or at least you REALLY SHOULD READ THE BOARDS! Please get some anonymous poster to issue
a semi official statement about what you are doing about your IT related processes!
Read the Wiki Wiki !
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Winthorpe »

I'll provide perspective from the other side.

I've been a Vanguard customer for about 10 years. I have traditional, Roth, taxable, linked bank accounts. I've done rollovers from 401k and 403b. I helped my parents transfer all assets from Ameriprise to Vanguard a few years ago. The Vanguard rep who helped with this was great.

Through all of it, I have never had a single problem. Not one.

One night we managed to get locked out of my wife's Vanguard online accounts (our fault for typing password incorrectly multiple times), and after jumping through security hoops a Vanguard rep had us back online within about 10 minutes.
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Toons
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Toons »

I have no control over the way Vanguard runs their busineess,
I don't give it a moments thought :happy
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pennstater2005
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by pennstater2005 »

How much of this is user error? We'll never know.
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betterfinances
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by betterfinances »

pennstater2005 wrote:How much of this is user error? We'll never know.
I'm pretty sure I didn't put down Reforestation Technologies International as the source for my direct deposit. I'm about 99.99999% sure that I put down the name of my real employer.
livesoft
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by livesoft »

Errantflyer wrote:I too have been a loyal Vanguard customer for 25+ years. However, as a result of poor phone service, confusing qualifications required to obtain select levels of service and the comments on this website I have balked at consolidating other accounts under the Vanguard umbrella.

When it comes to my hard-earned money, I want knowledgeable customer service reps and flawless execution.

Is this too much to ask?
One way to look at it: You have 25+ years experience with Vanguard, but the employee you are talking to at Vanguard may only be 25 years old. It would also be very rare to be talking to an employee who has 25+ years experience at Vanguard. Yes, it is too much to ask. That's always a problem with getting old.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

It's pretty easy to see the pros and cons of Vanguard....and of any other company. I recently moved jobs and had a decision on where to move my old 401k. I thought about Vanguard and maybe Schwab for a bonus and finally decided to stick with Fidelity as they have been easy and flawless in prior moves I and my wife have made. Thanks to Bogleheads, I was also alerted to a bonus I could collect with the move to Fidelity :D . I have my Vanguard account with the one fund (of a 3 fund portfolio) that was built from my Fidelity IRA because of the lower ER. One move to open the account and move one sum over. Easy to watch and see that all was well. I don't dare do anything within Vanguard. That account will sit as-is until it's RMD time.
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Bustoff
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Bustoff »

In my opinion mistakes are becoming more frequent everywhere. I get conflicting answers and bad information all the time. Whether it's cable companies or health insurance or retailers, I get different answers to the exact same question. You really need to make multiple calls in order to get correct information. Good luck getting them to confirm what they promise with an e-mail.
Last edited by Bustoff on Wed Feb 03, 2016 10:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
betterfinances
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by betterfinances »

The most serious trouble I've had at Vanguard is my name is similar to another customer, and about 3 or 4 times Vanguard has called me to confirm trades that I didn't make (the other customer made them on their own account), or called them with a question about a deposit that I made. They apologize profusely when it happens, but it's more than a little annoying.
Last edited by betterfinances on Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
gkaplan
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by gkaplan »

betterfinances wrote:The most serious trouble I've had at Vanguard is my name is similar to another account holder, and about 3 or 4 times Vanguard has called me to confirm trades that I didn't make (the other account holder made them), or called them with a question about a deposit that I made. They apologize profusely when it happens, but it's more than a little annoying.
Would you rather Vanguard not call you about trades you didn't make?
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betterfinances
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by betterfinances »

gkaplan wrote: Would you rather Vanguard not call you about trades you didn't make?
Maybe I wasn't clear enough.

I didn't make any trades on my account. No activity was going on in my account. The other customer made trades in their account, and Vanguard called me to confirm them.

No, I'd rather they not call me to tell me what the other customer was doing with his/her own account. His/her trades are not my business, nor is what I do with my account their business.
Quark
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Quark »

Errantflyer wrote:I too have been a loyal Vanguard customer for 25+ years. However, as a result of poor phone service, confusing qualifications required to obtain select levels of service and the comments on this website I have balked at consolidating other accounts under the Vanguard umbrella.

When it comes to my hard-earned money, I want knowledgeable customer service reps and flawless execution.

Is this too much to ask?
It's not too much to ask. It is too much to expect.

No large scale business has flawless execution. We have no reason to believe that Vanguard makes mistakes at a higher rate than comparable companies, just some random anecdotes. Those instances may be very important to those affected, but that doesn't necessarily mean a widespread problem.
inbox788
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by inbox788 »

IPer wrote:I would say one of the best, technologically run, is TD Ameritrade, though they are around 3 iterations from
the original company I signed up with, which was quite a dinosaur in its day.
Funny you should say that. I have an account at TD Ameritrade that I inherited from being a ThinkOrSwim customer. I specifically chose TOS because of their technology. Before they were bought out, they were regularly improving their system, but now the pace has slowed down quite a bit. I take it as a good sign that a company is willing to bring in outside technology. Maybe the issue at Vanguard is the IT department wants to keep things in-house, something that is becoming less and less viable.
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pennstater2005
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by pennstater2005 »

betterfinances wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:How much of this is user error? We'll never know.
I'm pretty sure I didn't put down Reforestation Technologies International as the source for my direct deposit. I'm about 99.99999% sure that I put down the name of my real employer.
I wasn't singling you out. I just meant in general user error must account for some portion of supposed Vanguard error. Not necessarily yours.
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dpc
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by dpc »

Not sure what the point of the OP was - perhaps just an unhappy customer. My purely anecdotal impression is that Vanguard customer support is stretched more thinly than in years past, probably due to growth and desire to minimize costs. But I have pretty low expectations whenever I call any support number for any company.

But overall, I remain satisfied with Vanguard - based on how Interact with them, which is very seldom. I just "converted" our accounts - we'll see how that goes.

After reading these forums for a few years, my impression is that people with complicated financial lives making a lot of transactions of different types will not be 100% happy with Vanguard's on-line system. They (Vanguard) seems to be a bit behind the technology curve. I think some of these people would be happier with Fidelity, or Schwab or some other firm that caters to people making a lot of transactions. The nice thing is that there are a lot of choices.

FWIW, my (large national) credit union just went through a major upgrade of their website and forced everyone to install completely new mobile apps. It's been painful and messy to say the least, with lot of total downtime. I can't see that the new software is any easier than the old.

It's really hard to say how representative the problems listed are. People tend to post about problems, not about the vast majority of transactions that go smoothly.
"Worrying is like paying interest on a debt that you might never owe" -- Will Rogers
Ellie
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Ellie »

Issue #6 is mine. By way of an update, the issue is ongoing. The initial issue was that Vanguard set up my accounts incorrectly, and then compounded that problem by giving the transmitting party an incorrect account number. What has happened since then is anyone's guess. All I know is that some of my money has gone back and forth between the parties multiple times, but is not showing up in my accounts with either the originating party or Vanguard (and hasn't for weeks, maybe months). For reference, I completed the paperwork for these transfers in mid-October.

My Vanguard rep is a lovely man who seems to be doing his best. But, the solution for this problem sits outside of his control; there really is nothing he can do short of calling me to provide periodic "updates". This situation has devolved into a finger pointing exercise between Vanguard and my former FA, and at this point I take what each of them tells me with a healthy dose of skepticism.

My third party administrator who deals with all the usual suspects in the industry, says that he sees this all the time, which confirms my suspicion that I wouldn't be better off anywhere else.

My observation is this: Vanguard is like many other services (banks, cable providers). For the overwhelming majority of people, everything works just as it should. But, when problems appear, and an exception to the norm is created, the system (computers and people) just can't handle it. Small issues aren't able to be discovered and fixed efficiently, and these small issues create new issues, resulting in one big mess. It is the bane of large companies everywhere, and this is not the first time I've experienced something like this.

Taking the assumption stated above that Vanguard handles 200 million transactions each year, a 98% success rate still means 4 million bungled transactions. That's a lot of potential complainants. If this board only see 10 complaints a month, that probably means Vanguard is doing pretty well.
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thugline
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by thugline »

Issue #2 is mine.

After several days of my secure message going unanswered, I finally got in touch with a Vanguard rep over the phone.

The rep basically denied that the issue was with Vanguard, but rather it is with the sending institution (aka my employer). I tried my best to argue my case but it was useless. How and why would my employer make a change to my direct deposit source to "Reforestation Technologies International"? For what it's worth, my place of employment is totally unrelated to Reforestation Technologies, not even close.

The only option I was given was to delete my direct deposit my re-submit with the correct source. The most disturbing thing to me was that Vanguard refused to acknowledge the problem. If they screwed up here, what else could go wrong? God forbid I log into my account one day to find my balance missing a few zeroes.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble ?

Post by Taylor Larimore »

in_reality:

We have had all our funds with Vanguard since 1986 and have enjoyed good experience.

Perhaps it is because we have few funds and stay-the-course.

Keep investing simple.

Best wishes
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by abuss368 »

Moving to Vanguard was the best financial decision we ever made. Their client service has been exceptional without issue.

We only have a few index funds and have keep investing very simple.

Best.
John C. Bogle: “Simplicity is the master key to financial success."
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in_reality
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble ?

Post by in_reality »

Taylor Larimore wrote:in_reality:

We have had all our funds with Vanguard since 1986 and have enjoyed good experience.

Perhaps it is because we have few funds and stay-the-course.

Keep investing simple.

Best wishes
Taylor
Taylor,

Even with few funds, staying-the-course, and simple investing, you can experience trouble.

I am not arguing that Vanguard is worse than any place else, and am sure the majority of people have a perfectly fine experience.

That said, problems do seem to (regularly) occur that might not be notice if *YOU* don't catch them. I know that from personal experience and others have posted a similar thing.

It irked me that my spouse who doesn't follow things the way I do, might not have been able to catch the mistakes I saw.

So if there are some common types of errors that seem to occur, it'd be nice to be aware of that so people can perhaps know what to look out for.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Northern Flicker »

I don't care for their web interface. It seems so, oh, 2005ish. There are a lot newer web interfaces out there and Vanguard could do much better.
Redesigning and reimplementing their web interface every 5 years will usually make it less reliable and less secure than if they made that level of engineering investment into improving what they have.

Sometimes an overall system design is so problematic that rebuilding it from scratch is the best way to get a secure, reliable system, but that is the exception of the system was professionally engineered.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by t3chiman »

jalbert wrote:.... overall system design is so problematic that rebuilding it from scratch is the best way to get a secure, reliable system, but that is the exception if the system was professionally engineered.
This is at once a profound, and pain-inducing, statement. The poor engineering of the existing system is manifest in its poor performance. The sad truth is that the replacement system will be no better. The tragedy is this: there is neither a legal requirement nor compelling economic incentive to produce well-engineered information systems.

I'm not just spouting off from some virtual barstool somewhere. I actually am a licensed Professional Engineer. I have a degree in Electronics Engineering, another in Computer Science. I have a patent in the area of automated testing of applications executing on hand-held devices. I know whereof I speak.

Here's a hypothetical. Suppose you wanted to string a wire across a street in your town. A simple goal, right? Well, you would first require a construction permit. To get that, you would have to submit plans/drawings stamped by: a Registered Land Surveyor, a Structural Engineer, and either a Mechanical or Electrical Engineer. Your electrical guy would perform sag/tension calculations and attest that wire-to-obstacle clearances are maintained at all times. You can bet that the wire's voltage and current specs would be demanded, and that adequate lightning protection devices would be specified. If you miss one of the requirements, government would be on your case. Scoff at them, the police would be called. It's serious.

Another hypothetical. Suppose you wanted to market an online database of arrest warrants to the 40000 or so police departments in the US. The idea being to cross reference license plate numbers with social security numbers of arrestees, so that traffic cops can conveniently snag fugitives, bail jumpers, and escapees. Can you guess the legal minimum requirement for: data integrity, server reliability, network uptime? Can you say "zero", boys and girls? And as for the credentials of the developers of such a complex system with great social ramifications for malfunctioning, you guessed it: there are zero credentials required for performing such work. It's not even mentioned.

Smartphones, flat panel displays, automobile engine controllers, what-have-you. All hardware and software developed by unlicensed practitioners. Do they follow consensus, or even sensible, practice regarding robustness, reliability, or basic functionality? Who knows? Don't like the situation, Mr Customer? Sue Me. Occasionally, the scandal is so great, that they actually are sued. Toyota found out. After ten years of dumping crap software on unsuspecting drivers (and killing some of them).

I could go on, but I will cut my rant short. There are web sites devoted to the shameful state of public-facing software and systems quality. They make for sad and infuriating reading.

As for the immediate topic, I think Vanguard's web interface is a bit clunky, and their people in general do fine work.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by in_reality »

I don't care for their web interface. It seems so, oh, 2005ish. There are a lot newer web interfaces out there and Vanguard could do much better.
For me this is entirely "who cares".

If I receive a trade confirmation from Vanguard, then I expect the dollar amount credited and/or number of shares purchased to actually make it to my account. There is no real risk of loss from a lousy looking website. As long as it functions correctly, I don't think it should matter if it's not cutting edge or even up-to-speed.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by dbr »

in_reality wrote:
I don't care for their web interface. It seems so, oh, 2005ish. There are a lot newer web interfaces out there and Vanguard could do much better.
For me this is entirely "who cares".

If I receive a trade confirmation from Vanguard, then I expect the dollar amount credited and/or number of shares purchased to actually make it to my account. There is no real risk of loss from a lousy looking website. As long as it functions correctly, I don't think it should matter if it's not cutting edge or even up-to-speed.
How do you verify that this has been done? And if you do look at the website and the information is wrong, is that a "do not care" or an issue? I would think any inconsistency in data supplied anywhere from a broker would be cause for concern, and people are writing about those concerns.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by Mudpuppy »

betterfinances wrote:My opinion is that Vanguard is slowly breaking due to antiquated technology.
There is a great deal of antiquated technology to be found in the financial sector. Without a market survey, it's hard to say if Vanguard is worse, average, or better than its competition in this respects. And I doubt anyone would be successful with such a market survey given the secretive nature of many investment firms.
betterfinances wrote:I don't care for their web interface. It seems so, oh, 2005ish. There are a lot newer web interfaces out there and Vanguard could do much better.
I'd rather an archaic design with functionality, than a "reactive" design that can't do much. The functionality should take priority over the aesthetics in a financial website. Fidelity's website also reminds me of the web design of a decade or two ago, but it works and that's the important thing.

Plus, jumping to a "modern" website design without paying mind to the features often means you cut out useful features without even realizing it. Web designers are not always the best at asking others "how do you want to use this site?" and often just design it for how they want to use the site. That's poor user-interface design, but it's a prevalent attitude amongst modern web designers. It's as if they forget that people accomplish tasks differently. The next time you're in a group project around a computer, watch how others interact with everyday programs and websites just to see how people can use those programs in a totally different way than you do, and yet still accomplish the same tasks.

But back to the "modern" design vs functionality issue... the most recent example I can give is this. California SPP just migrated from a provider with a somewhat archaic, but very feature-rich, website to a provider with a new "mobile-ready", but feature-poor, website. I can no longer give custom date ranges on the fund overview page to see performance or market close prices on the new website. I can't even get a monthly performance snap-shot (e.g. opening / closing balance, NAV, shares, etc.), which is a feature one can find on both Fidelity's and Vanguard's websites. I did, after much clicking around, find a way to list the overall monthly closing balance, but that's all it shows. So, in order to get the monthly market gain/loss, I have to manually calculate that from the closing balance of the month prior, the contributions and the fees for the month, and the closing balance of the month. For Fidelity, Vanguard, and the old SPP provider, the website would display such information, not make me pull out a calculator to figure it out. And this is just one example of the missing functionality of the new provider's "modern" website.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by in_reality »

dbr wrote: How do you verify that this has been done? And if you do look at the website and the information is wrong, is that a "do not care" or an issue? I would think any inconsistency in data supplied anywhere from a broker would be cause for concern, and people are writing about those concerns.
I do agree. Sorry if I wasn't clear. But if the data is accurate, I don't care if aesthetically the site is way old.

The data errors are worrisome because they can have a real impact if uncaught, and my spouse for example probably would miss it (after I am gone).
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by in_reality »

Feb '16

Updated issue 6 to "transfers mischaracterized" ... common problem
and added
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=183761
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by sambb »

IPer wrote:
David Jay wrote: Their IT department likely numbers in the hundreds, including tens of consultants. Anyone who has not seen the inside a high-volume trading system has no clue of the complexity here.
I have seen the inside and that was precisely why I had to swallow it all when I decided not to ditch Vanguard because of my initial perceptions
and the reports that followed year after year for the next 10 or so years since I have been using them. Vanguard is one exception to my rule that
if I smell something wrong in the IT department I don't use or rely on that company. My gut tells me there are problems, deep problems, in the
Vanguard IT department. I believe they know it, but there might be internal "reasons" they are not quick to deal with it. They surface from time
to time and it is quite shocking, especially from an organization that size.

Although I have had no real issues with Vanguard other than vagueness and all the observations of others' issues, some of which I have written
off as silly, others pierce me with fear below where my seat is!

I have dealt with Schwab, Fidelity, TDAmeritrade, E*rade, Sharebuilder, Betterment, and some others I won't mention, have forgot or simply
do not want to utter their names! I would say one of the best, technologically run, is TD Ameritrade, though they are around 3 iterations from
the original company I signed up with, which was quite a dinosaur in its day. Schwab seemed impeccable though the reps are very greedy and if
you were one that likes to get advice too bad for you from Schwab, the only fiduciary responsibility they own is their own. All in all I have none
of the reported glitches and so forth I have seen reported on this board. I did "upgrade" 3-4 Vanguard accounts without a hitch as well. I did leave
one not upgraded because they require paperwork on that one for some reason (it is an UTMA), so I will just let them deal with it, as long as it
doesn't mysteriously lose shares I am fine.

Hey Vanguard! I know you read these boards, or at least you REALLY SHOULD READ THE BOARDS! Please get some anonymous poster to issue
a semi official statement about what you are doing about your IT related processes!

scary vanguard. Just so scary. It is possible to shave expenses so much that you don't run a modern situation..
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by beyou »

No issues for years.
That said, when/if I retire or leave my current job, not sure if I would want
to transfer another 401k to a rollover IRA at Vanguard. Just seems horribly
manual and subject to error. I have an excellent 401k (very low fees),
so I see no benefit to consolidation. If things change in my 401k,
I may consider but would lose sleep until done. I say this based on experience
having rolled others over many years ago, and reading stories of such trouble
for others. No surprise, retirement account rollovers are not automated,
unlike brokerage account transfers.
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by in_reality »

updated to include no response by Vanguard to secure messages requesting fix on taxation issues
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by bobbyrab »

Today, the website is not responsive in terms of trying to exchange funds in my Vanguard IRA account. It is impossible to accomplish this.
Remember - the tortoise DID beat the hare.
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Cannot exchange funds.

Post by Taylor Larimore »

bobbyrab wrote:Today, the website is not responsive in terms of trying to exchange funds in my Vanguard IRA account. It is impossible to accomplish this.
bobbyrab:

Maybe you are fortunate to be forced to stay-the-course. :wink:

Best wishes.
Taylor
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by in_reality »

updated to include "Security code erroneously sent (making it appear someone tried to log in with your username and password)"
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Re: Recent Vanguard Trouble

Post by clearwater »

This level of problems indicates significant engineering deficiencies. Managing people's money is an extraordinarily serious business. I can't imagine why a customer would tolerate any discrepancies, of any amount.

Eventually someone's lawyer is going to say the word "class action". And then we may learn how widespread these issues truly are.

If someone from Vanguard management is listening: Potential customers are not bringing you custodial business as they have a degraded sense of trust in your internal record-keeping capabilities. You can hire a bunch of high-priced consultants to "study" this, but the news is already out: your fans are already complaining - loudly... not a good sign. And the complaints are *all being indexed by Google*. Forever. You need to GET IT TOGETHER.

Taking a look at what Vanguard is hiring for in the IT side of the business gives some insight into the current back-end systems. Right now there is an IBM MVS system (now known as Z/OS), and the usual mix of Microsoft, Oracle, Unix. There are even some old AS/400 / "System i" systems (wow). A bunch of database engines (this explains a lot): IBM DB2, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server. It looks like they are in the middle of some kind of re-design of the internal architecture (see postings, below).

But right away you can get a sense of the trouble in reading the I.T. job postings. Lots of complicated skill postings, but with low levels of prior experience -- almost like Vanguard is happy to accept fresh-out engineering students. This is not a place to learn on the job.

One major problem is that the competitors have no problem getting access to talent: Schwab is in the Bay Area, and Fidelity is in Boston -- some of the best technical talent in the world in those two regions. Vanguard is in Malvern, PA (WHERE?). None of the smart people I know are relocating to Malvern anytime soon.

The best thing Vanguard could probably do is open a technical development center in Mountain View. Malvern may be great to raise a family, but when you're competing for talent with Google and Apple, it just isn't going to cut it.

If you read the reviews on Glassdoor.com, it's pretty obvious that Vanguard hires the customer reps from universities. That seems to explain why people feel like they're talking to someone inexperienced on the phone ... they probably are. Whether this is how the tech staff is hired, who knows.

But two of these job postings below spell it out: "multi-year" I.T. effort. So change may not be coming anytime soon. And every day, Fidelity and Schwab are probably getting even better.


http://www.vanguardjobs.com/job/6046831 ... alvern-pa/

"Vanguard is currently engaged in a multi-year, strategically important, change initiative aimed at transforming the IT division from a reactive cost center to a proactive service provider across all sub-divisions. "

http://www.vanguardjobs.com/job/6208218 ... -wayne-pa/

"Vanguard is currently engaged in a multi-year, strategically important, change initiative aimed at transforming the IT division to a proactive service provider across all sub-divisions. One of the major components of this initiative is the cloud computing program. This program is currently in progress and focused on architecting, designing, and implementing infrastructure, platform, and application services, initially to support an on premise private cloud, but with an approach of developing an open solution that will lend itself to alternative cloud offerings including other private, public and hybrid options over time."
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