Vanguard Customer Service

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CenTexan
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by CenTexan » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:04 am

I had to do a Medallion last year with Vanguard. After a couple calls, I found a rep who said if I set up voice recognition with them ("At Vanguard, my voice is my password") that it would work as a substitute. So I did, and it did.

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Index Fan
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Index Fan » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:26 am

Customer service for the masses is generally less-than-stellar across the board. This is the state of things in the world today.
"Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis." | -Seneca

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:40 am

If you're considering Schwab, they have a "new client" bonus offer:

http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/ ... d_sps.html

Fidelity doesn't have anything going currently. Other custodians to consider, especially if you go the ETF route, are Merrill Edge and TD Ameritrade. They both have offers now.

For more information on bonuses, see: The Final, Definitive Thread on Brokerage Transfer Bonuses
This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

informal guide
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by informal guide » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:46 am

Another option is to simply transfer Vanguard mutual fund Admiral shares in kind to another provider - -I did that successfully to Fidelity several years ago. I have never tried to make additional purchases, but I still successfully do dividend reinvestment at no cost and my tax lot information successfully moved too. The Vanguard assets also qualify me for Fidelity's high net worth services.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:01 am

informal guide wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:46 am
Another option is to simply transfer Vanguard mutual fund Admiral shares in kind to another provider - -I did that successfully to Fidelity several years ago. I have never tried to make additional purchases, but I still successfully do dividend reinvestment at no cost and my tax lot information successfully moved too. The Vanguard assets also qualify me for Fidelity's high net worth services.
I think a fair number of custodians allow that. Merrill Edge has been reported. I like the simplicity and flexibility of an all-ETF portfolio. Then I can hold the assets anywhere I like, and get the best ERs.
This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

frugalnotenough
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by frugalnotenough » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:15 pm

[Big sigh] I don't know why I didn't find this thread when I searched about Vangard, but I just opened a Vanguard Roth IRA account, although I already have one with TDAmeritrade. I was thinking that it won't cost me to buy Vanguard's mutual funds. Not only I encountered several problems just to open the account, earlier this evening I called the customer service to ask questions because the Vanguard's website is not very user friendly, compared to TDA's. The representative I talked to could not wait to get rid of me, didn't even check with me to see if I had other questions and just wanted to hang up on me, her tone was close to rude and very impatient. I have not transferred money into my Vanguard's account yet. Now I'm thinking if I should.....

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FIREchief
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by FIREchief » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:24 pm

informal guide wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:46 am
Another option is to simply transfer Vanguard mutual fund Admiral shares in kind to another provider - -I did that successfully to Fidelity several years ago.
Are you sure those were Admiral shares that you transferred to Fidelity?
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:26 pm

frugalnotenough wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:15 pm
[Big sigh] I don't know why I didn't find this thread when I searched about Vangard, but I just opened a Vanguard Roth IRA account, although I already have one with TDAmeritrade. I was thinking that it won't cost me to buy Vanguard's mutual funds. Not only I encountered several problems just to open the account, earlier this evening I called the customer service to ask questions because the Vanguard's website is not very user friendly, compared to TDA's. The representative I talked to could not wait to get rid of me, didn't even check with me to see if I had other questions and just wanted to hang up on me, her tone was close to rude and very impatient. I have not transferred money into my Vanguard's account yet. Now I'm thinking if I should.....
If you're ok with using Vanguard ETFs instead, then TDA has a good selection of commission-free products.
This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

stlutz
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by stlutz » Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:02 pm

Just fyi. Many of Vanguards admiral shares (and investor class shares as well) can be converted to equivalent ETF shares without creating a taxable event. The ETF shares are fully portable and can be transferred in kind to Fidelity, Schwab, etc.
Of course the problem with this approach is that you have to deal with VG customer service and accounting to get the conversion done. Like most things with VG, most people have no issue with such a conversion, but some do and then it takes a while to get it straightened out.

I decided a number of years ago to just hold my existing investments at VG but do all of my actual transacting elsewhere. That seemed to be the lowest risk way of handling it.

gkaplan
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by gkaplan » Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:27 pm

I'm always skeptical when a poster who has three posts to this board trashes Vanguard customer service.
Gordon

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:06 pm

gkaplan wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:27 pm
I'm always skeptical when a poster who has three posts to this board trashes Vanguard customer service.
I don't understand. Do you think they came here for fun? It's not like customer service is uniformly lauded other than this poster. How many posts are necessary before you can dare to question Vanguard?
This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

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FIREchief
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by FIREchief » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:17 pm

stlutz wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:02 pm
Just fyi. Many of Vanguards admiral shares (and investor class shares as well) can be converted to equivalent ETF shares without creating a taxable event. The ETF shares are fully portable and can be transferred in kind to Fidelity, Schwab, etc.
Of course the problem with this approach is that you have to deal with VG customer service and accounting to get the conversion done. Like most things with VG, most people have no issue with such a conversion, but some do and then it takes a while to get it straightened out.
LOL. Yep, you got that right! I did the conversions in two batches (first the non-covered shares, then the covered shares). By the second batch they were pushing back suggesting that I really didn't want to do this (who's the customer here?). Of course, they "lost" all spec ID cost basis for the non-covered shares in the process, but fortunately I have historical statements and FIDO even lets the customer provide cost basis info to their system for non-covered shares.
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

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FIREchief
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by FIREchief » Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:17 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:06 pm
I don't understand. Do you think they came here for fun? It's not like customer service is uniformly lauded other than this poster. How many posts are necessary before you can dare to question Vanguard?
1164!
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.

splinke
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by splinke » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:54 am

FIREchief wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 3:51 am
Just fyi. Many of Vanguards admiral shares (and investor class shares as well) can be converted to equivalent ETF shares without creating a taxable event. The ETF shares are fully portable and can be transferred in kind to Fidelity, Schwab, etc.
informal guide wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:46 am
Another option is to simply transfer Vanguard mutual fund Admiral shares in kind to another provider - -I did that successfully to Fidelity several years ago. I have never tried to make additional purchases, but I still successfully do dividend reinvestment at no cost and my tax lot information successfully moved too. The Vanguard assets also qualify me for Fidelity's high net worth services.
I spoke with both Fidelity and Schwab in the last two days, and I think I have decided on Schwab. One of the main reasons is related to the share conversion requirements of Fidelity. I would need to convert all Admiral shares to Investor shares (or ETFs when available), and a few of my funds apparently would need to be sold prior to transfer to Fidelity. In contrast, Schwab will take everything, including Admiral shares, as in-kind transfers. I won't be able to buy any more Admiral shares after moving them, but I don't have to convert or sell them--and I don't want to buy anything Vanguard anymore anyway. I will immediately convert everything in my non-taxable accounts to comparable non-Vanguard funds.
Index Fan wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:26 am
Customer service for the masses is generally less-than-stellar across the board. This is the state of things in the world today.
I was hoping that Flagship status would bring my parents and me a higher level of customer service than the masses, like returning phone calls in a timely manner, not messing up an RMD, not taking 20 months to do an investigation of the messed up RMD, not taking two months to execute administrative changes to my account, taking less than a couple of weeks to set up a new bank for ACH transfers, not requiring mini-transactions to set up a new bank for ACH transfers that caused havoc at the bank and resulted in fees, sending me forms when I request them, etc. etc. Instead, Flagship gets you a named representative, who probably has hundreds and hundreds of other clients so they take three or four days to answer messages and a week or more for an appointment phone call. If this is Flagship treatment, I shudder to think what kind of customer service the masses get.
Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:40 am
If you're considering Schwab, they have a "new client" bonus offer:

http://www.schwab.com/public/schwab/nn/ ... d_sps.html

Fidelity doesn't have anything going currently. Other custodians to consider, especially if you go the ETF route, are Merrill Edge and TD Ameritrade. They both have offers now.

For more information on bonuses, see: The Final, Definitive Thread on Brokerage Transfer Bonuses
THANK YOU SO MUCH! That will partially compensate my parents for the $1,300 Vanguard cost them!
gkaplan wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:27 pm
I'm always skeptical when a poster who has three posts to this board trashes Vanguard customer service.
I assure you, I am a real human with real problems with Vanguard after almost 20 years of patronage. I still believe in the Vanguard investment philosophy and will continue it at Schwab. However, I am no longer a believer that Vanguard's customer service and the agony it creates is worthy of my business. This is post #4, but it could have been split up into three or four separate ones. :D

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burt
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by burt » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:28 am

Over the past few months I've finally convinced my relative to move from Edward Jones to Vanguard. It was a tough sell.
Now I'm reading this thread about poor customer service at Vanguard.
If the phone call to Vanguard doesn't go smooth, I'm afraid my relative will stop the transfer process.
I offered to sit in on the call to ease his concerns. After reading this thread, I now have concerns. :(

burt

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jhfenton
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by jhfenton » Thu Sep 14, 2017 9:25 am

stlutz wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 9:02 pm
Just fyi. Many of Vanguards admiral shares (and investor class shares as well) can be converted to equivalent ETF shares without creating a taxable event. The ETF shares are fully portable and can be transferred in kind to Fidelity, Schwab, etc.
Of course the problem with this approach is that you have to deal with VG customer service and accounting to get the conversion done. Like most things with VG, most people have no issue with such a conversion, but some do and then it takes a while to get it straightened out.

I decided a number of years ago to just hold my existing investments at VG but do all of my actual transacting elsewhere. That seemed to be the lowest risk way of handling it.
I do mutual fund to ETF share conversions on a regular basis, probably quarterly on average. And when I do them, it's 2 positions across 2 accounts belonging to myself and my wife. (We each have full agent authority.) Other than listening to their scripted 30-second explanation every time, it is completely painless. (At this point, I could interrupt them and give the spiel, but I resist.)

I've been a Vanguard brokerage customer two years, and I always get excellent and prompt customer service on the phone. (We started as Voyager. We are now Voyager Select.)

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ruralavalon
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by ruralavalon » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:09 pm

burt wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:28 am
Over the past few months I've finally convinced my relative to move from Edward Jones to Vanguard. It was a tough sell.
Now I'm reading this thread about poor customer service at Vanguard.
If the phone call to Vanguard doesn't go smooth, I'm afraid my relative will stop the transfer process.
I offered to sit in on the call to ease his concerns. After reading this thread, I now have concerns. :(

burt
I don't believe that this thread represents the typical experience at Vanguard. All of our funds are Vanguard funds, and all of our accounts are at Vanguard. I have never experienced any of the issues discussed here or had any bad experience with Vanguard customer service. The service has always been prompt, helpful, and professional.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

informal guide
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by informal guide » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:30 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 5:24 pm
informal guide wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:46 am
Another option is to simply transfer Vanguard mutual fund Admiral shares in kind to another provider - -I did that successfully to Fidelity several years ago.
Are you sure those were Admiral shares that you transferred to Fidelity?
Yes, in funds such as Primecap Admiral. At the time I was told one cannot buy admiral class shares but can transfer them in. I still hold them today and they have done very nicely, thank you (except for the capital gains distributions)!

I cannot vouch for today's policy.

sport
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by sport » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:42 pm

ruralavalon wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:09 pm
burt wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:28 am
Over the past few months I've finally convinced my relative to move from Edward Jones to Vanguard. It was a tough sell.
Now I'm reading this thread about poor customer service at Vanguard.
If the phone call to Vanguard doesn't go smooth, I'm afraid my relative will stop the transfer process.
I offered to sit in on the call to ease his concerns. After reading this thread, I now have concerns. :(

burt
I don't believe that this thread represents the typical experience at Vanguard. All of our funds are Vanguard funds, and all of our accounts are at Vanguard. I have never experienced any of the issues discussed here or had any bad experience with Vanguard customer service. The service has always been prompt, helpful, and professional.
This has been my experience as well. I have invested at Vanguard since 1980. Thirty seven years of good service for me. When asked, I recommend Vanguard to others.

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Doc
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Doc » Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:58 pm

sport wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:42 pm
This has been my experience as well. I have invested at Vanguard since 1980. Thirty seven years of good service for me. When asked, I recommend Vanguard to others.
Vanguard mutual funds are top notch. Vanguard Brokerage Service is a another whole matter.

In order to be the very lowest mutual fund provider you have to reduce costs somewhere. The easiest place to go is customer service. The next time anyone has to talk to a CSR be sure to get their name accurately and then go to https://brokercheck.finra.org/ and find out what experience they have.
A scientist looks for THE answer to a problem, an engineer looks for AN answer and lawyers ONLY have opinions. Investing is not a science.

GmanJeff
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by GmanJeff » Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:54 pm

sport wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:42 pm
ruralavalon wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:09 pm
burt wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:28 am
Over the past few months I've finally convinced my relative to move from Edward Jones to Vanguard. It was a tough sell.
Now I'm reading this thread about poor customer service at Vanguard.
If the phone call to Vanguard doesn't go smooth, I'm afraid my relative will stop the transfer process.
I offered to sit in on the call to ease his concerns. After reading this thread, I now have concerns. :(

burt
I don't believe that this thread represents the typical experience at Vanguard. All of our funds are Vanguard funds, and all of our accounts are at Vanguard. I have never experienced any of the issues discussed here or had any bad experience with Vanguard customer service. The service has always been prompt, helpful, and professional.
This has been my experience as well. I have invested at Vanguard since 1980. Thirty seven years of good service for me. When asked, I recommend Vanguard to others.
Ditto for me. As with most forums, people often comment about products or services when they are dissatisfied, and not so much when things go well. If all postings are derogatory, that's one thing, but there are plenty of customers on here whose experiences have been fine. I imagine it would be quite possible to find unhappy customers on other forums which focus on other companies, too. Remember, too, that on a forum such as this we hear only side side of situations which involve two parties, and that there may be more behind each anecdote.

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burt
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by burt » Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:44 pm

GmanJeff wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 3:54 pm
sport wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:42 pm
ruralavalon wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:09 pm
burt wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:28 am
Over the past few months I've finally convinced my relative to move from Edward Jones to Vanguard. It was a tough sell.
Now I'm reading this thread about poor customer service at Vanguard.
If the phone call to Vanguard doesn't go smooth, I'm afraid my relative will stop the transfer process.
I offered to sit in on the call to ease his concerns. After reading this thread, I now have concerns. :(

burt
I don't believe that this thread represents the typical experience at Vanguard. All of our funds are Vanguard funds, and all of our accounts are at Vanguard. I have never experienced any of the issues discussed here or had any bad experience with Vanguard customer service. The service has always been prompt, helpful, and professional.
This has been my experience as well. I have invested at Vanguard since 1980. Thirty seven years of good service for me. When asked, I recommend Vanguard to others.
Ditto for me. As with most forums, people often comment about products or services when they are dissatisfied, and not so much when things go well. If all postings are derogatory, that's one thing, but there are plenty of customers on here whose experiences have been fine. I imagine it would be quite possible to find unhappy customers on other forums which focus on other companies, too. Remember, too, that on a forum such as this we hear only side side of situations which involve two parties, and that there may be more behind each anecdote.
Thank-you for replying with your positive experiences.
I also have had positive experiences with Vanguard Service Reps over the past 20 years.
It is rare that I need to talk to a Vanguard Service Rep.
Maybe once every 3 years. Once every 3 years is what I expect... and how it should be.
I will sit in on the call to Vanguard with my relative (and keep my fingers crossed).

burt

gkaplan
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by gkaplan » Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:50 pm

sport wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:42 pm
ruralavalon wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:09 pm
burt wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:28 am
Over the past few months I've finally convinced my relative to move from Edward Jones to Vanguard. It was a tough sell.
Now I'm reading this thread about poor customer service at Vanguard.
If the phone call to Vanguard doesn't go smooth, I'm afraid my relative will stop the transfer process.
I offered to sit in on the call to ease his concerns. After reading this thread, I now have concerns. :(

burt
I don't believe that this thread represents the typical experience at Vanguard. All of our funds are Vanguard funds, and all of our accounts are at Vanguard. I have never experienced any of the issues discussed here or had any bad experience with Vanguard customer service. The service has always been prompt, helpful, and professional.
This has been my experience as well. I have invested at Vanguard since 1980. Thirty seven years of good service for me. When asked, I recommend Vanguard to others.
Last night I tried to change my distribution elections online for both dividends and capital gains. At first I tried to do both in the same transaction, but I couldn't do this, so I just changed the distribution elections for dividends. Having done this successfully, I got a confirmation, which I printed out. I then tried to changed the distribution elections for capital gains. For some reason, I couldn't do this, although I tried several times. After several attempts, I sent a secure message asking for their help. They told me I would get an email response within one or two hours. As this was late at night, I spent about thirty minutes watching a video and then went to bed. (On reflection, I probably should have logged out of Vanguard and then logged back in, which probably would have enabled me to change the distribution elections for capital gains, but that's water over the dam. At any rate, when I turned my computer on the next morning about 1130 PST, I had an email from Vanguard telling me that I had a secure message. I logged on to Vanguard, and the secure message said that a representative (I don't remember his name.) had changed the distribution elections for capital gains. The secure message gave a phone number to call. Just to make sure, I called the number and talked to a representative (not the name of the person in the secure message). I explained to him the problem I had last night and the secure message I received in response to mine. I then asked him if he could verify that the distribution elections for both dividends and capital gains had changed. After repeating to him what I had wanted done, he patiently verified that the changes had been made for dividend and capital gains.

This might seem to some this confirmed Vanguard has a customer service problem, but to me it showed that its customer service is great, because it initially and a second time confirmed that changes had been made for dividend and capital gains.
Gordon

dbr
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by dbr » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:55 am

gkaplan wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 6:50 pm
sport wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:42 pm
ruralavalon wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:09 pm
burt wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 5:28 am
Over the past few months I've finally convinced my relative to move from Edward Jones to Vanguard. It was a tough sell.
Now I'm reading this thread about poor customer service at Vanguard.
If the phone call to Vanguard doesn't go smooth, I'm afraid my relative will stop the transfer process.
I offered to sit in on the call to ease his concerns. After reading this thread, I now have concerns. :(

burt
I don't believe that this thread represents the typical experience at Vanguard. All of our funds are Vanguard funds, and all of our accounts are at Vanguard. I have never experienced any of the issues discussed here or had any bad experience with Vanguard customer service. The service has always been prompt, helpful, and professional.
This has been my experience as well. I have invested at Vanguard since 1980. Thirty seven years of good service for me. When asked, I recommend Vanguard to others.
Last night I tried to change my distribution elections online for both dividends and capital gains. At first I tried to do both in the same transaction, but I couldn't do this, so I just changed the distribution elections for dividends. Having done this successfully, I got a confirmation, which I printed out. I then tried to changed the distribution elections for capital gains. For some reason, I couldn't do this, although I tried several times. After several attempts, I sent a secure message asking for their help. They told me I would get an email response within one or two hours. As this was late at night, I spent about thirty minutes watching a video and then went to bed. (On reflection, I probably should have logged out of Vanguard and then logged back in, which probably would have enabled me to change the distribution elections for capital gains, but that's water over the dam. At any rate, when I turned my computer on the next morning about 1130 PST, I had an email from Vanguard telling me that I had a secure message. I logged on to Vanguard, and the secure message said that a representative (I don't remember his name.) had changed the distribution elections for capital gains. The secure message gave a phone number to call. Just to make sure, I called the number and talked to a representative (not the name of the person in the secure message). I explained to him the problem I had last night and the secure message I received in response to mine. I then asked him if he could verify that the distribution elections for both dividends and capital gains had changed. After repeating to him what I had wanted done, he patiently verified that the changes had been made for dividend and capital gains.

This might seem to some this confirmed Vanguard has a customer service problem, but to me it showed that its customer service is great, because it initially and a second time confirmed that changes had been made for dividend and capital gains.
The customer service was good, but it also wasn't good because you had to go to a human interface to fix a problem that never, ever should have occurred in the first place. If you wander around on the web you read lots of instances where the real customer problem at all kinds of companies is inexplicably non-functional IT and you just have to shake your head.

an_asker
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by an_asker » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:26 am

splinke wrote:
Thu Sep 14, 2017 12:54 am
[...]This is post #4, but it could have been split up into three or four separate ones. :D
If you intend to catch up with the Livesofts around, you're not doing good! ;-)

splinke
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by splinke » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:35 pm

I need to rant some more about the horrible Vanguard customer service. Based on all of the problems I have described previously in this thread, I am moving $4 million+ from Vanguard to Schwab. Schwab won out over Fidelity for me, because Schwab allows all types of shares, including Admiral, to be moved in-kind, whereas Fidelity was going to require Admiral shares to be liquidated or converted to regular shares prior to moving.

Apparently being a glutton for punishment, though, I decided to have Vanguard convert shares of three Admiral index funds to ETFs before the in-kind transfer to Schwab. The conversion process only took about three days to complete, which was faster than I thought Vanguard could do any transaction based on previous experience.

However, more consistent with most of my previous experiences with them, they messed up all of the cost basis information during the transfer. What was a $201k unrealized gain before the conversion was a $482k gain after; what was a $40k gain before was a $276 loss after; what was a $8k gain before was an $54k gain after. My Flagship representative expressed embarrassment, but she said she could not give me an estimate on how long it might take to investigate and correct the issue.

Most administrative requests have taken at least a couple of weeks in my experience. Some, like conversion from a joint to a living trust account take a couple of months. I am concerned that this process is going to be more similar to Vanguard's 20-month "investigation" of an IRA RMD issue we had.

Google searches reveal that cost basis problems are not infrequent at Vanguard. They have a crazy level of incompetence, and their inability to correct errors in a timely fashion or to take responsibility for their mistakes is unconscionable!

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Doc
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Doc » Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:56 pm

splinke wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:35 pm
However, more consistent with most of my previous experiences with them, they messed up all of the cost basis information during the transfer. What was a $201k unrealized gain before the conversion was a $482k gain after; what was a $40k gain before was a $276 loss after; what was a $8k gain before was an $54k gain after.
Vanguard's compliance with Dodd Frank is a work in VERY VERY SLOW progress.

As an example. I have a long term loss in an investment purchased some 4 weeks ago. (This is an error in misapplying the wash sale reporting rules.) The disallowed loss is correct but the "open date" has not been adjusted on the display which makes specific ID which is the only method I use in taxable, completely useless.

It seems to me that the Vanguard IT department is still operating on the mutual fund concept of average cost and first in first out instead of the brokerage concept of Specific ID. And yet they are making or at least trying to make, all the mutual fund only accounts transfer to the "new and improved" brokerage platform.
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Alchemist » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:30 pm

dbr wrote:
Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:55 am
The customer service was good, but it also wasn't good because you had to go to a human interface to fix a problem that never, ever should have occurred in the first place. If you wander around on the web you read lots of instances where the real customer problem at all kinds of companies is inexplicably non-functional IT and you just have to shake your head.
I think you hit the nail on the head. Vanguard's current CS issues are actually two different things that feed on each other. The first is they grew so fast, they simply did not have the staffing available to handle it. This was made far worse when combined with a broken IT platform. Most of the phone calls they get would never happen if their IT infrastructure was up to date. This in turn means that the likelihood of someone calling with a non-IT generated problem reaching an experienced rep is far, far lower than them reaching a brand new person who is simply not experienced enough (not the CSR's fault, experience is only gained over time) to help them adequately.

As far as cost basis issues I suspect it the problems come from people who previously had mutual fund accounts that were converted to brokerage accounts. My account at Vanguard had always been brokerage, though to be safe I downloaded a PDF of my VTSAX cost basis before calling to have it converted to VTI prior to transferring to Fidelity. The cost basis came out just fine in my case.

Makes me wonder, was the rapid growth intentional? If so, was not building up the staffing/updating IT infrastructure not part of the plan? Or did they just grow really fast without expecting it due to the popularity of low cost indexing? One of these is very forgivable, the other....less so. Either way those of us moving to other firms are helping the situation for those who stay. So I guess we are all better off in a way :happy

splinke
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by splinke » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:34 pm

Doc wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 3:56 pm
It seems to me that the Vanguard IT department is still operating on the mutual fund concept of average cost and first in first out instead of the brokerage concept of Specific ID. And yet they are making or at least trying to make, all the mutual fund only accounts transfer to the "new and improved" brokerage platform.
And I think my situation should have been dirt simple for them. In all three funds that I converted to ETFs, none of the shares were acquired within the last year, and I have never sold any shares in the funds for all of the years I have held them (by any specified method). So, perhaps there was a mix of some "covered shares" purchased between 2011 and 2015 and mostly "non-covered shares" purchased before that, but I would think it should just be a matter of copying that information to the new ETF shares. Even if it is not that simple, their errors would have HUGE tax implications, and it is their job and obligation to get that right, because they agreed to do it as part of my having an account there.

splinke
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by splinke » Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:51 pm

Alchemist wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 4:30 pm
Makes me wonder, was the rapid growth intentional? If so, was not building up the staffing/updating IT infrastructure not part of the plan? Or did they just grow really fast without expecting it due to the popularity of low cost indexing? One of these is very forgivable, the other....less so. Either way those of us moving to other firms are helping the situation for those who stay. So I guess we are all better off in a way :happy
I started having a lot of problems in late 2015. My wife and I submitted our forms to convert our joint account into a revocable living trust account in mid-August 2016. On September 13, 2016 (after our forms had been at Vanguard for around a month or so), I received the email below with the subject line "We appreciate your patience" from "F. William McNabb III, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Vanguard." It essentially acknowledges how their administrative processing times are unacceptably slow, which was confirmed by reps I spoke with on the phone. It doesn't mention the high error rate they were making during the processing, some of which can have real impacts on people's real assets.

Here we are almost exactly one year after I received this email, and things seemingly have not changed to correct the speed or accuracy! You're welcome for my moving away from Vanguard. It will probably free up dozens of hours of customer service time for other clients that would otherwise have been spent investigating all of the errors they have made and fielding my emails/calls about when they are going to complete their tasks. :D


September 13, 2016
Image

Because you're a valued Vanguard client, I wanted to give you an update about your pending account request(s).

As a result of exceptionally high transaction volumes, we haven't yet been able to complete your request(s). We appreciate your patience and apologize for the delay and any inconvenience this may have caused.

Your business is extremely important to us
At Vanguard, we pride ourselves in putting our clients first in everything we do, so this delay is far from ideal. Although only a small percentage of our clients have been affected, even one client is too many.

We're working hard to give you the attention you deserve
We know that you expect and deserve faster service, and we're working hard to address the situation. Please be assured that your request(s) will be taken care of as quickly as possible.

Thank you again for your patience and for investing with Vanguard.

Sincerely,

F. William McNabb III
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Vanguard
Last edited by splinke on Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:01 am, edited 1 time in total.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by TomatoTomahto » Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:03 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 11:06 pm
gkaplan wrote:
Wed Sep 13, 2017 10:27 pm
I'm always skeptical when a poster who has three posts to this board trashes Vanguard customer service.
I don't understand. Do you think they came here for fun? It's not like customer service is uniformly lauded other than this poster. How many posts are necessary before you can dare to question Vanguard?
Of course, there's no possibility that other firms, whose lunch Vanguard is eating, would insert a few sock puppets on this forum. No way. It's the internet after all! [/sarcasm]

My guess is that the correlation between number of posts and disapproval of Vanguard is pretty high.

Monster99
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Monster99 » Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:14 pm

Started investing with Vanguard in 1995 - I have always had good service though the years, but then I have always been in accumulation mode until retiring this year. I hope I have good service as I de-accumulate :|

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:58 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:03 pm
Of course, there's no possibility that other firms, whose lunch Vanguard is eating, would insert a few sock puppets on this forum. No way. It's the internet after all! [/sarcasm]
I'm unsure if you're seriously suggesting this. I think that there is little chance. Just as I don't think pro-Vanguard posts are sock puppets from them. Absent other evidence, I think we should take posts at face value. It's easy to dismiss criticism by claiming that it's a smear campaign.
This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by splinke » Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:09 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:03 pm
Of course, there's no possibility that other firms, whose lunch Vanguard is eating, would insert a few sock puppets on this forum. No way. It's the internet after all! [/sarcasm]

My guess is that the correlation between number of posts and disapproval of Vanguard is pretty high.
Here is a screen grab of the ETF portion of the trust portion of my assets. Given how the market has been performing for the last many years, tell me how it is even possible to have the gains/losses that Vanguard assigned in error during the ETF conversion. According to Vanguard, my Mid Cap Index fund/ETF is worth $84,208.24, but I have somehow accumulated a $275,327.14 loss! And my Total Stock Market Index fund/ETF is worth $572,131.76, but somehow $484,271.71 of it is a gain! I must have been doing the equivalent of day-trading in these funds and made every wrong call on the mid-cap and made every right call on the total stock market. [/sarcasm]

Image

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Sep 21, 2017 6:55 am

I don't know if anyone, much less any particular poster, is a sock puppet. There have been many questionable posts made about, for example, Whole Life Insurance, that might well have been planted. To my recollection, those posters came, posted, and left; whether due to being sock puppets or because they didn't like the reception, I'm not sure.

Perhaps it's the new-fangled Brokerage accounts. I've been at Vanguard for probably 2 decades, and have used UTMA, IRA, rIRA, and taxable accounts for 4 people, done any number of transfers in (fine as far as Vanguard went, one mistake attributable to Fidelity), transfers out, Investor to Admiral conversions (fine as far as Vanguard went, a little sloppy in Quicken), gotten however many 1099s which I verified against Quicken, talked to them on the phone etc. During that time, we went from small account holders to Flagship. We always had MF accounts (required by DW's employer), and we have never had a problem that was caused by Vanguard. As I say, perhaps it's the Brokerage accounts.

If you're at Vanguard and don't like the service, move. Please move. I know that, if I'd experienced 1/10 of what I read here, I would move.

mouses
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by mouses » Thu Sep 21, 2017 7:50 am

I resurrected my Vanguard account and managed to transfer some money into it from a large credit union. Then I tried a transfer from a small credit union and it stuck in Vanguard processing forever. apparently they don't know how to deal with transfers if the source institution is not in their database.

I would stick this out, but the multiple posts about Vanguard losing track of money in people's accounts has me quite worried.

Their customer service was never good, but it really has degenerated.

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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by ruralavalon » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:18 pm

Monster99 wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:14 pm
Started investing with Vanguard in 1995 - I have always had good service though the years, but then I have always been in accumulation mode until retiring this year. I hope I have good service as I de-accumulate :|
I have been retired since January 2011, and still experience excellent customer service as we decumulate :D .
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

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ruralavalon
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by ruralavalon » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:24 pm

Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:58 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:03 pm
Of course, there's no possibility that other firms, whose lunch Vanguard is eating, would insert a few sock puppets on this forum. No way. It's the internet after all! [/sarcasm]
I'm unsure if you're seriously suggesting this. I think that there is little chance. Just as I don't think pro-Vanguard posts are sock puppets from them. Absent other evidence, I think we should take posts at face value. It's easy to dismiss criticism by claiming that it's a smear campaign.
I also think that we should take posts at face value. My own experience with Vanguard customer service has been excellent, I don't doubt that others experience problems. My own customer service needs are trivial so far, others may need or want or need more help or have more complex issues.

I don't call even once per year. I have not opened any new accounts recently, not since they have been swamped with new customers. I always had a brokerage feature in my rollover IRA. I didn't switch any accounts to their new brokerage model. So perhaps I have dodged a few bullets that hit others.

I am an old guy, and not very tech savvy, so probably expect less from IT than others expect.
Last edited by ruralavalon on Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein | Wiki article link:Getting Started

2015
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by 2015 » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:36 pm

ruralavalon wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:24 pm
Earl Lemongrab wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:58 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Wed Sep 20, 2017 6:03 pm
Of course, there's no possibility that other firms, whose lunch Vanguard is eating, would insert a few sock puppets on this forum. No way. It's the internet after all! [/sarcasm]
I'm unsure if you're seriously suggesting this. I think that there is little chance. Just as I don't think pro-Vanguard posts are sock puppets from them. Absent other evidence, I think we should take posts at face value. It's easy to dismiss criticism by claiming that it's a smear campaign.
I also think that we should take posts at face value. My own experience with Vanguard customer service has been excellent, I don't doubt that others experience problems. My own customer service needs are trivial so far, others may need or want or need more help or have more complex issues.

I don't call even once per year. I have not opened any new accounts recently, not since they have been swamped with new customers. I always had a brokerage feature in my rollover IRA. I didn't switch any accounts to their new brokerage model. So perhaps I dodged a few bullets that hit others.
+1
I almost think there must be something wrong with me when I come across yet another Let's Trash Vanguard thread. I've never had a problem, not once, in all the years I've been with them.

I too almost never call in but when I do the service is fast, efficient, and what I'm looking for. All those Oh-The-Humanity Long VG Hold Time complaints just baffle me. I always get through in less than a couple of minutes. For example, I did have to call VG last week to change my user name and got through in less than 30 seconds. On a Monday. Morning. CSR was fantastic, walked me through the change process, and waited online with great patience while I did so.

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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:55 pm

2015 wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:36 pm
I almost think there must be something wrong with me when I come across yet another Let's Trash Vanguard thread. I've never had a problem, not once, in all the years I've been with them.
I don't think anyone has said or implied that Vanguard never gets it right. Having a number of people that haven't experienced problems shouldn't be considered odd.
This week's fortune cookie: "The stock market may be your ticket to success." I sure hope so!

Alchemist
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by Alchemist » Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:41 pm

Just a couple of additional thoughts on this. With the millions of people who have accounts at Vanguard, there will of course be thousands of stories like mine or others who have encountered customer service issues. Given that investment companies like Vanguard hold the majority of individual's wealth, any hiccup in service is a far more emotionally significant event than almost any other realm except maybe healthcare. So that can amplify some of the stories, but anecdotes aside there really is an objective issue going on which Vanguard is more or less upfront about it. For instance, here are a list of negative customer service changes that Vanguard initiated in response to growth.

- Weekend phone support was terminated

- Free Turbo tax was cancelled

- Flagship customers lost their own personal reps and instead now have a 'team' of shared reps

- Vanguard is seeking to hire/has hired a couple thousand new CSRs in the last 12-18 months (appropriately staffed organizations do not go on hiring binges)

Those are not anecdotes but rather objective measures of a decline in services offered over the last two years as Vanguard has grown significantly. Also compare the simple numbers between Fidelity and Vanguard in terms of employees. While Fidelity has half the amount of money invested in it as Vanguard does, it has more employees than Vanguard (even accounting for the new CSRs). The result as far as human interaction between customers and employees is rather obvious and predictable.

It is hard to double the size of ones customer base, keep costs rock bottom, and maintain the same level of customer service. This does not mean it is not worth the trade offs for most people to invest at Vanguard. But it does mean those of us who want a different customer service experience will be going elsewhere. Like has been mentioned before in this thread, such an outcome is probably better for both groups of people.

MotoTrojan
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by MotoTrojan » Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:08 pm

Called to perform a Roth recharaterization. Extremely smooth process from a friendly, knowledgeable expert, and no wait.

mouses
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by mouses » Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:47 am

2015 wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:36 pm
I too almost never call in but when I do the service is fast, efficient, and what I'm looking for. All those Oh-The-Humanity Long VG Hold Time complaints just baffle me. I always get through in less than a couple of minutes. For example, I did have to call VG last week to change my user name and got through in less than 30 seconds. On a Monday. Morning. CSR was fantastic, walked me through the change process, and waited online with great patience while I did so.
I will say that Vanguard is fast about answering the phone. Someone answers in less than a minute. Since I have called Schwab and Fidelity in the past week about possibly opening accounts there, the wait for someone to answer has been at least ten minutes each place.

MountainEar
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by MountainEar » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:16 am

in_reality wrote:
Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:24 am
Investing Newbie wrote: Vanguard still a good way to go? Obviously in this population the results are going to be skewed, but would be interested in other opinions.
Um, yes they are a very good way to go.

That said, I never found out why one account had been renamed as part of someone else's estate and why one named as part of someone's trust or why one had an unknown beneficiary. I think it had to do with money having gone missing and happened to end up in their accounts and that was what they did to get the money back.

Mistakes happen and I am not suggesting your money is at risk. I am saying that a simple explanation would have been sufficient to keep me complaining about it on internet forums until the end of time.

Anyway, my suggestion is not to complain too much if you have trouble because they have enough customers without you. That is my experience at least.

My parents had accounts with M*rgan St@nley, which I worked with for my Mom after my Dad passed. It was impossible to understand what they were doing with fees and such, because there were so many "rebates" and transaction reversals that were performed either automatically or by the advisor - this reads to me as corrections of errors. When it became time to distribute the contents to heirs, they had to calculate everything manually on an old-fashioned tape calculator, and made substantial errors, which they were not able to fix by the time I figured it out.

I had problems resulting from that at Vanguard, because I transferred an Inherited mutual fund, then sold some within a couple of months. Vanguard recorded it as a Short Term rather than a Long Term sale because the inherited status somehow did not pass between MS & VG at the transfer,and VG did a Terrible job of dealing with MS to correct it. Every attempt I made to get it corrected failed. I finally gave up and paid short term capital gains tax that I should not have had to.

I have also had problems with a couple of normal banks. In the past couple of years I have become somewhat disillusioned about the ability of ANY of the financial institutions to get things right. But that doesn't mean we can just put the money in a mattress. But it does mean you need to be vigilant at all times, and never assume that because they do or tell you something that it is right. They will never do as good a job of looking out for you as you will do yourself.

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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by neilpilot » Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:24 am

MountainEar wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:16 am
Vanguard recorded it as a Short Term rather than a Long Term sale because the inherited status somehow did not pass between MS & VG at the transfer,and VG did a Terrible job of dealing with MS to correct it. Every attempt I made to get it corrected failed. I finally gave up and paid short term capital gains tax that I should not have had to.
In that situation, I advised clients to take the correct long term gain and attach a letter and/or relevant documents to their return substantiating the difference from 1099-B reporting.

2015
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Re: Vanguard Customer Service

Post by 2015 » Fri Sep 22, 2017 11:01 am

mouses wrote:
Fri Sep 22, 2017 5:47 am
2015 wrote:
Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:36 pm
I too almost never call in but when I do the service is fast, efficient, and what I'm looking for. All those Oh-The-Humanity Long VG Hold Time complaints just baffle me. I always get through in less than a couple of minutes. For example, I did have to call VG last week to change my user name and got through in less than 30 seconds. On a Monday. Morning. CSR was fantastic, walked me through the change process, and waited online with great patience while I did so.
I will say that Vanguard is fast about answering the phone. Someone answers in less than a minute. Since I have called Schwab and Fidelity in the past week about possibly opening accounts there, the wait for someone to answer has been at least ten minutes each place.
I've got you beat. I opened a new U.S. Bank checking account strictly for the bonus. The two times I had to call in I was on hold waiting for a CSR for over 10 minutes! This past Monday collected the bonus and closed the account. No way to run a bank.

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