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TheStreet Open House

Wells Fargo Boss Talks Bank Fees, Economy, Taxes

â¿¿ People hate bank fees. Bank of America just decided to postpone new fees on its checking accounts. Where do you see this going?

We try to be transparent in what we do. I think what really irritates customers is where they believe they got something at this price and find out there's some other language in there and they really paid this price.

What we want to provide for customers is a good, fair deal. We have 6,000 (branches), 12,218 ATM machines, 24/7 bankers, online, and all this stuff costs money. We give people (free) access if they do enough business with us. If they choose not to do business with us but for one thing, we charge them ($7) a month for the access to that nationwide distribution. That's a bargain. Our customers understand that. We've had minimal issues in that area. Our customers have higher loyalty scores with us than we've ever had.

â¿¿ You started in the business as a repo guy, so you had to show up at people's houses and take back their cars, their washing machines or whatever else they could no longer make payments on. What did you learn from that?

When you make a bad loan, a lot of people suffer. Your shareholder suffers, customers suffer. People go into a loan wanting to make it work, and they want to pay their debts.

â¿¿Any good stories?

One time I was repo-ing a chain saw out on a farm north of the Twin Cities. I heard the chain saw, so I walked around the house and some guy was cutting wood. He said, 'What do you want?' and I said, 'I'm here for the chain saw,' and he picked up the chain saw in one hand and then a shotgun in the other, and he said, 'Here, come and get it.' And I said, 'Maybe I don't need that chain saw right now.'

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