Back in September of last year, Wells Fargo was rocked by a fake accounts scandal, whereas 5,300 of their employees had been in on a scam to create fake checking accounts for existing customers (without telling them, of course) so they could charge fees on the accounts to unsuspecting customers. In total, over two million fake checking accounts were created, and unauthorized applications for 565,443 credit cards were sent out.
Needless to say, the $185 million in fines they paid is minuscule in comparison to what such scandals do to a brand’s image. And it’s with that in mind that it comes to no surprise Wells Fargo doesn’t want to damage their image any more by getting themselves associated with controversy like the Black Lives Matter movement.
As the similarly named Blue Lives Matter reported, Baltimore city teacher Rachel Nash designed a credit card that that featured “Black Lives Matter” on it along with a raised fist. But when Nash tried to have Wells Fargo make the card for her, they told her to keep her politics off of their credit cards.
According to The Washington Post, Wells Fargo Bank offers its customers the ability to create a debit or credit card and “personalize it with images that reflect what are important to you.” On its website, Wells Fargo wrote that this can include “a family photo, a picture of your pet, your kid’s artwork.”
Rachel Nash, age 29, decided to create a Black Lives Matter bank card. She had previously ironed “Black Lives Matter” on a gray tank top and wore it to school after the 2015 death of Freddy Gray who died while in police custody. Nash, who is white, said that she wanted to express solidarity with a national movement that was protesting “black killings by police” and demonstrate to her students that she cared.She said that she is “fed up with white people who freely disparage black youth in front of her,” and wants to interact and start conversations with employees and customers at businesses that she may use the card at, including where she buys groceries, buys coffee, dines out at restaurants. But Wells Fargo rejected the design on her card and she received an email two days after she submitted the application that it did not meet the company’s guidelines. She then called customer service and was told that Wells Fargo didn’t want to be associated with “any antisocial or offensive organizations.” Nash asked for further explanation and was told that if Black Lives Matter were on her card that it might “offend” people.
Rachel Nash then talked to a supervisor who also refused to allow the design and also said that it was “offensive and antisocial.” On Friday, Wells Fargo said through a spokesman that Nash’s design was rejected because company policy does not allow “political and trademarked or copyrighted images.” Wells Fargo spokesman, Kris Dahl Wells Fargo respects individuals’ right to their opinions and causes, and when Wells Fargo rejects or approves an image, that’s not a “reflection of Wells Fargo’s rejection or endorsement of the customer’s political view or cause.” Other ideas that might get rejected include a swastika or Confederate flag.
Rachel Nash then submitted a second design to Wells Fargo. On the news design, it read “Black People Are Important.” Wells Fargo has also said that it will reject that design as well because of its political nature.
Regardless of your opinion on the matter, Wells Fargo is in a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation. If they approve the card, they’ll be blasted for supporting Black Lives Matter, and if they don’t, they’ll be branded “racist.”
However, in reality if they truly aren’t allowing for political images at all, that means you won’t be able to get a “Blue Lives Matter” themed card either.
[Note: This post was written by The Analytical Economist]