Skip to comments.Vanguard Group Under Attack by Terrorists! Huh??
Posted on 08/14/2002 11:00:18 AM PDT by Doc Savage
For several years I have been regularly investing with Fidelity Investments. They've always been very competent, very friendly, and very professional. However, in today's unsettled economic environment my wife and I decided that perhaps it would be wise to diversify our portfolio by investing with an additional firm. We decided to approach Vanguard............
Since their corporate offices are just a few miles from my home I drove over with some information on potential investments, my usual savoir~faire, and my check book. I got as far as the security checkpoint. A grim and determined female guard cautiously approached my dangerous looking Dodge mini-van.
"CanI help you?," she said. I explained that I wanted to meet with an investment advisor to set up an account and invest in certain Vanguard funds.
"Do you have an appointment?," she barked. No. I explained I just lived a few miles away and thought I would just drive over and open an account.
"If you don't have an appointment you'll have to leave," she said. I asked her why. Why couldn't I just speak with someone and open up an account and give them my millions? Didn't they want my money? "Not unless you have an appointment," she said, thrusting a printed set of instructions at me and telling me to move on.
I asked her if Vanguard was afraid of me. She said no it was the terrorists they were afraid of. Naturally, this was the first I'd heard that Vanguard was a target of Osama bin Laden, but hey, live and learn I always say. So I said to her are you afraid I might have a bomb strapped to me. She said yes.
By this time she was eyeing me a bit more closely. Coward that I am I decided retreat was called for. But I must say it seemed a rather poor way to greet new customers.
It seemed rather strange to me. When I go to a Fidelity office they have a warm hello for me, a pleasant smile, and they always ask if they can help me. I never realized that it was going to be difficult to give my money away to Vanguard. I surmised they must be so filthy rich they didn't need anymore money. At least not from some common proletariat driving a Dodge mini-van.
There was a number to call for an appointment so I called and spoke with a customer service representative. I explained my conversation with the guard and he told me that I had to schedule an appointment and that it had to be done a minimum of 36 hours in advance.
Now color me crazy but for all the security guard knew and the customer representative knew I might just have won the Pennsylvania Lottery and had 50 million burning a hole in my pocket. Talk about tough to give your money away.
He said that on May 6th, 2002, Vanguard closed all its offices to unscheduled visitors. They had done this in response to September 11, 2001. Hmmmmm, I said, let's see, October, November, December, January.......I thought, ok, I guess I could understand if on September 12th they made the decision in a moment of panic, but it took these guys until May 6th to come up with this idea???
So I said I wanted to make an appointment to open up an account and that I'd like to speak with someone about investing in several of their funds. Nope! Impossible. I couldn't schedule an appointment unless I already had an account. But I explained that that was exactly why I had driven over but they would let me in. He said they wouldn't let me in because they had changed the policy regarding visitors on Mat 6th and besides I might be a terrorist and I might have a bomb to blow up Vanguard.
It was at this point that I was almost convinced that I had somehow contacted Rod Serling from the grave. I wasn't a terrorist, just a middle-aged shlub trying to give a few of my paltry dollars away, and apparently it wan't going to be easy to do.
I called again about an hour later and a grandmotherly voice told me exactly the same thing. So I asked politely If I might speak with her supervisor. She placed me hold during which I listened to a recording extolling the friendliness and hospitality of Vanguard for their customers and how all I had to do was bark and an investment consultant would be happy to meet with me to plan my future. Well, at that point my future consisted primarily of my beard which had grown a couple of inches while I was on hold and a head that felt like Jimmy Stewart's in Vertigo.
When she finally came back on the line a decade later she explained that her supervisor was too busy to speak with me and that she was transferring me to New Accounts.
Aha, I thought! At last we're getting somewhere. After 30 minutes on hold waiting to hear a human voice, I decided it was just too much trouble trying to give my money to Vanguard and hung up in dismay.
So I drove over to the local Fidelity office, deposited my money in the Automatic Deposit Computer, sat down with a very friendly and knowledgable investment VP and in 15 minutes my money was deposited, the funds purchased, and I was on my way.
Now I'm sure that there are many Freepers who are very satisfied with Vanguard, but I must say they were not customer friendly and I would hesistate to recommend them to any of my family or friends. How they became convinced that terrorists are after them I'll never know, however I wish them good luck as they toil away in their concrete windowless bunkers.
Their corp HQ is likely just a corp HQ, and not a walk-up brokerage shop.
And as one of THE largest investors (with other folks' money) in the world, they are understandably paranoid.
If they refuse to see you, bark something like, "No. That is not acceptable. I will come now!" and hang up.
I bet The Shadow could get in, though...
If you work there you should have known that. But you didn't. Also, it was only after the guards said they were afraid of terrorists that I decided they were all nut cases and decided to have a little fun with them. They are however locked and loaded for that initial assault by Muslim extremists.
I would suggest that these idiots have more to fear from their own employees than terrorists. At the very least they could put a cheap suit like you at the front gate to greet potential investors like myself.
Customer friendly!!!???? What are you smokin' pal. Fidelity can run rings around you. My wife was in charge of selecting a benefits manager for a DOW 30 company. This was megabucks. Fidelity met them at Logan with Limos. At Fidelity HQs they brought out the first team and CEO. At Vanguard they got some low level staffers and a stale pastry. Guess who got the business. And I mean hundreds of millions.
Customer friendly!!!???? LOL
Go to their website (links have already been posted, I see), order some prospectuses on funds that seem appropriate to your needs, and handle your transactions by mail. It will work much better...