Wells Fargo Agrees to Training on New Companywide Policy to Improve Telephone Access by Customers Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
DENVER—The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado announced that it has resolved a complaint under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) made by a Wells Fargo customer who is hard of hearing relating to accessing Wells Fargo’s banking services via telephone. In the resolution, Wells Fargo has adopted changes to its companywide ADA policy for communications with customers with disabilities and agreed to provide training to its call center representatives on the new policy.
The complainant, who has difficulty hearing and speaking on the telephone, attempted to use her caregiver to relay information on her behalf on telephone calls with Wells Fargo customer service representatives. The complainant was a consumer banking and credit card customer with Wells Fargo, and some of her telephone inquiries related to fraudulent charges that had been made using her credit card. The complainant alleged that Wells Fargo refused to permit the caregiver to assist the complainant, which prevented her from receiving services over the telephone. This refusal forced the complainant to visit Wells Fargo bank branches in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic in the summer and fall of 2020.
The ADA requires that places of public accommodation allow individuals with disabilities to use appropriate auxiliary aids and services, including by allowing others to communicate on their behalf, in order to ensure effective communication so that they can receive equal service from businesses and other public accommodations.
To resolve the complaint, Wells Fargo agreed to pay the complainant $10,000. In addition, Wells Fargo made changes to its companywide ADA policy to clarify that companions of individuals with disabilities may provide communication assistance. Wells Fargo also agreed to train call center employees and other customer service representatives on the policy. Wells Fargo also agreed to reach out to other customers who had made complaints about the same issue and notify them of the policy change. These companywide changes and efforts may affect numerous individuals nationwide, as Wells Fargo serves approximately one in three households in the United States, with approximately 4,700 banking locations across the country.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to ensuring that customers with hearing disabilities can access the same customer services that are offered to other customers,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan. “We applaud Wells Fargo’s cooperation in adopting companywide policy changes and providing training to ensure that its customer service representatives provide equal access for customers with disabilities.”
Additional information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s civil rights enforcement program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/usao-co/civil-rights-enforcement.
This case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Zeyen Wu.
Public Affairs Specialist