Vanguard Group, you disappoint me

By | September 8, 2019

Dear Vanguard,

I have been a Vanguard account-holder for a rather long time, and overall I have been exceedingly happy with the service you have provided. Today, however, I am irritated, because today, you unnecessarily wasted my time and made my life more difficult, something which in the past you have been exceedingly good at not doing. Why?

I want to donate to a charity some shares of stock from my Vanguard brokerage account. I’ve done this before; the process involved downloading a PDF form from your web site, printing it out, filling it in, and mailing it to you. It was easy and straightforward and I could do it during the weekend, which is when I have time to do all my personal paperwork.

Today, however, when I logged into your site and tried to download the form, I was told that it had been replaced with an online workflow, i.e., no more PDF. That sounds great, doesn’t it? Quick and easy and boom it’s done, right? Nope, I’m afraid not. As soon as I told your online workflow that the charity to which I wanted to donate was not a Vanguard client, I was stopped in my tracks with this message:

Frankly, I’d rather staple my finger than conduct business with you or anyone else by phone. Furthermore, your office is closed on weekends, so I can’t call you now, when I actually have time to deal with this.

So how is this better for me? That question is rhetorical, of course, because there’s nothing whatsoever about this that is better for me in any way. Why did you make this change? Why did you replace a form I could download and fill out at my leisure with a process that only works when your office is open and that requires me to waste time on a phone call? Why, why, why?

When this happened, I decided I was going to complain, and to ask you to email me a copy of the PDF form, through the secure message form on your web site. So I filled out the form and clicked the Send button. The message I had just taken the time to compose disappeared. I received no confirmation that it had been sent. My “Sent mail” folder is empty:

I sent another message through the message center just to see if I had perhaps clicked the wrong button the first time, and got the same result. A few minutes later I got a confirmation email from Vanguard, but just one, despite the fact that I had sent two messages.

Then, just for the heck of it, I started composing another message in the message center and clicked the “Cancel” button, just to see what would happen to be 100% certain that I had not clicked “Cancel” accidentally the first time. I got a prompt asking me to confirm deleting the message, which I definitely didn’t see the first time, so I’m positive I clicked the “Send” button. Incidentally, the confirmation prompt looks like this:

Um, what? Why does it say “Posted date” instead of something like “Are you sure you want to cancel your message?” Even your confirmation prompt is broken.

In summary, here’s the experience I had dealing with you today:

  1. I was unable to complete a transaction I needed to complete because a process which was previously self-service now requires that I call you on the telephone during the work week.
  2. I sent you a complaint and a request for help through your message center but I have no idea whether you received it because the message center is so broken.
  3. It’s so broken, in fact, that even simple things like the text of the message that pops up when you ask to cancel a message are wrong.

What the hell, Vanguard? Why you gotta be so bad?

Sincerely,

Jonathan Kamens

P.S. Please email me the damn form so I can donate my stock. Thanks.

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