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Lawmaker: Wells Fargo 'utterly inept' at compensating customers

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., is raising questions about Wells Fargo & Co.'s remediation process, The Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 14.

The lawmaker, in a Feb. 13 letter to Wells Fargo President and CEO Timothy Sloan, questioned, for example, why customers have to opt in to get reimbursed for improperly charged mortgage rate-lock fees. She also asked how the bank is calculating auto insurance refunds, particularly where vehicles were repossessed or credit scores impacted. An earlier report said Wells Fargo had made mistakes even in the sending of letters to affected customers, writing to the wrong people in some cases or incorrectly computing the amount to be refunded in others.

Warren criticized the bank for its "utterly inept" efforts, causing "thousands of people to spend valuable time and money trying to deal with a problem Wells Fargo created." She asked for a response by Feb. 28, according to the WSJ.

But at least Charlie Munger seemed willing to speak up for the beleaguered bank. "Wells Fargo had incentive systems that were too strong in the wrong direction, and of course they were too slow in reacting," Yahoo Finance quoted him as saying at a Daily Journal Corp. shareholder meeting. "[But] everyone makes those mistakes [and] I think it's time for the regulators to let up on Wells Fargo." Munger is chairman of the Daily Journal publisher and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.; the latter is the biggest institutional owner of the bank.

Meanwhile, the bank is working with regulators to complete those repayments "accurately and as quickly as possible," a spokesperson told the WSJ. She also said Wells Fargo will respond to the senator's questions.