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Wachovia Profits From Haiti's Tragedy, Levies International Transaction Fee On Charitable Donations

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Like many Americans, 21-year-old Heather Lynn used her Wachovia debit card to donate $10 to the Haiti relief fund. Later, when she went to check her online billing statement she discovered a 3% “international service fee” levied on her account. Four other major credit cards companies, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover waived their international transaction fees in support of the relief effort in Haiti. However, when Lynn called Wells Fargo, Wachovia’s parent company, to check if they had also waived their fee, she was dismayed to find out that they hadn’t.

According to Michael Klosterman, a spokesman for Wells Fargo, the company did not waive the international service fee because it already donated to Haiti and that, therefore, made up for the additional fees to their customers. Klosterman stated:

"We have given $100,000 to the American Red Cross, and on January 19 we pledged an additional $250,000 to support the non-profits in Florida that are mobilizing the relief efforts," Klosterman said. "We decided that donating a sum of money would be quicker and more beneficial than waiving transaction fees because the funds would get to the people quicker. It would take the equivalent of $35 million in transactions to raise the amount of money we actually donated."

Nevertheless, the company’s seemingly heartless move prompted Lynn to create a Facebook page entitled “Wachovia=Fail” which has attracted 2,973 fans as of this morning. Wachovia may face losing some customers who find the company’s practices despicable and tantamount to profiting from a tragedy.

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  1. Mike Bryant says:
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    So they bill people and give some away and they take credit for it. That sounds about right. can’t expect them to give up profits, might hurt the margins. Hope, bonuses aren’t affected.