Consumer Complaints and Reviews
Base on my experience with Vanguard trying to retrieve any funds invested by loan or withdrawal are like pulling teeth. I have attempted to pay off a loan from a 403b plan and there is still a balance that reflects due to uncommon application of payment practices. There is no need to speak with a supervisor as they will only repeat information. It takes 20 minutes of hold time the representative provides them with. There is never a resolution that is applied to assist with any transaction issue that will not require a week of waiting. No complaint can be filed formally unless mailed as I was informed from a supervisor. This company's practices with pay-offs, withdrawals, and loan request should be evaluated for compliance. Also the way interest is applied towards payment should be reviewed for compliance as well.
Called Vanguard, with a question about my account. They informed me they were recording my call. I informed Vanguard that I was recording the call also. Would not talk to me if I was recording call. Why can Vanguard record the call, but I can't?
I was calling the customer service to notify them that my brother, a Vanguard customer, had died. I requested information about how to put his funds in probate. I was switched to the department who can supposedly assist me and have been waiting for 1 hour and 36 minutes now. A person comes on about every 20-30 minutes to tell me to continue to hold. Customer service is clearly the very lowest priority at this company.
Within the last year, the majority of my contacts with Flagship representatives have been negative. I have never understood the purpose of the Flagship representatives. They seem to be newbies in the firm who turn over at a rapid rate so never develop a "relationship". They are disrespectful and controlling. I was asked "why" I was making a transfer from one account to another within Vanguard (it's my money; I manage it!). Yesterday the new Flagship representative in his introductory call argued with every statement I made and after saying "internet access" could be denied, did just that. Monday I am calling a supervisor and asking to be transferred. I would really like not to have to deal with these young, poorly trained and transitional staff at all. The sole advantage to Flagship is the lower rates.
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I have had 3 unpleasant experiences recently with Vanguard. I guess lower cost comes with a price. I had recently requested (Online) Vanguard to convert my small cap Investor Shares (NAESX) to Admiral Shares (VSMAX) when the online portfolio prompted me to convert because the balance satisfied the minimum required for Admiral Shares. Something got messed up in their system with the conversion and it's been a month and they have not able to resolve it. And even worse, the system does allow me to trade that fund, because the fund conversion is in pending state.
I had requested Vanguard to transfer assets from Fidelity. And within 3 days, I called Vanguard to let them know that I wanted to the cancel the request. They promptly canceled it and I got a confirmation email. Then to my disappointment, I get an email from Vanguard that transfer has been initiated; and when I checked with Fidelity, the assets were transferred. Vanguard did not bother to inform Fidelity about the cancellation or me to inform Fidelity about it.
My account was converted (Upgraded) from normal account to Voyager account ('coz the balance satisfied the Voyager minimum); and soon all the cost basis of the Vanguard funds in my IRA before the upgrade; disappeared. Vanguard is helpless and asking to trace the cost of each fund. It is puzzling how cost basis would go away for the same Vanguard fund just because an upgrade occurred. I dread any conversion at Vanguard and lost trust in their system.
All I wanted to do was update my mailing address. The customer service rep told me that he needed the month and day that I started with my company. I asked a couple of simple clarifying questions, and he would state that he couldn't provide me with any clarifying answers. He was extremely rude and not helpful. I'm extremely dissatisfied with this representative.
I called a couple weeks ago to ask a simple question about my account. It is (was?) an employer sponsored 401k that was transferred by my former employer from Wells Fargo (very easy and friendly to deal with). Vanguard required that I contact my former employer and get my start date and separation date from that employer. I verified ALL other information and they still would not speak with me regarding the account. When I called back, like the first time, I was transferred several times before speaking to someone that could help me.
After numerous phone calls I was finally able to speak about the account. However, at this point I was so frustrated I wanted to transfer my 401k to a different company. Well in order to do that (or anything for that matter) they required that because I had moved I had to wait on a change of address form, fill it out and return it. I asked the gentleman I spoke with if there was ANYTHING else I needed to do so that I could get this wrapped up and he said, "Just fill out the form and return it." Done. I gave it about 10 days and called to wrap this nightmare up and when I called and went through the super long verification I gave my new address and it worked.
Next hurdle: there is a "hold" on my account which means that the change of address form has to be notarized. When I asked why I was told that it was a "regulation" I said that is a company policy not a "regulation". When I called him on his "lingo" I was then told that the reason it needed to be notarized because they didn't have a signature on file to compare it to. Well, this is an EMPLOYER plan and was transferred by my EMPLOYER so not only do you not have my signature on file you don't have anyones on file from employer sponsored plans. Unless of course they sent a change of address form. I demanded to speak to a manager and was told "If I can put you on hold I'll see if I can find a manager who can explain this to you but if they aren't available I'll have to put you on a 2 day call back list.". I don't think so.
So after holding for an EXTREMELY long time he returns and says that they will accept the form without being notarized. Great! Now we're getting somewhere. Oops! Wait! It wasn't accepted so now it will take 1-2 business days for it to process. Well if you recall when I called the first person I spoke with verified my identity with the new address. Did he happen to have my paperwork sitting in front of him or was it in the system? I was told that it IS in the system but its listed as a second address. I am a very easy going person but these people will make you jump through hoop after hoop after hoop. I'm astonished at the whole experience and it all started over a phone call to make a simple change. Not that Vanguard cares about my account. They have $4 Trillion (yes, TRILLION) in investments. Do yourself a favor and just go somewhere else.
With high hopes, I started investing my wife's IRA at Vanguard a few years ago. Now that we are buying our first home, we requested a withdrawal for down-payment. Even after 9 working days, the check hasn't arrived. We already extended the closing date once, looks like we have to extend it again. And now I am afraid when we are going to get that money. I guess after this fiasco, I will move all my wife's accounts somewhere else.
After my husband passing away, his funds for 401K were transferred to Vanguard by the company he worked for. After 6 months I called them because I needed the money. They kept me on the phone for almost 3 hours and transfer my call to 5 different individuals. No one was able to help me, they couldn't located the money anywhere. I was beyond frustrated and the last person just hang up on me. The next day I did contact HR of the company my husband worked for and they told they have all the proof that my husband money was transfer there. It took another day to HR to get an answer for them. After that they requested documents included my marriage certificate in order to send me the check. I don't know yet when I will receive the check. This is the worst of the worst institutions to make business with.
I've been a member with Vanguard for more than 10 years. I've been noticing that the customer service is getting worse and worse each year. Today, I simply ask the associate to explain to me some of the transactions associated with my account and she can't explain it. She even said, "we don't have a record of where the cash came from. SERIOUSLY?! How does Vanguard (or any business) stay in business when it does know the sources of cash flow. This is a case of incoming cash... can you imagine if it were my outflowing cash? They also don't have a record of where the cash of flowing to!!! SCARY!!! She said that I needed to write a letter if I want to know where the cash came from. Write a letter?! I have tax to pay in about 15 days... and aren't we living in the digital age? Why can't this be done digitally? I'm seriously considering to change brokerage company. Sad.
Absolutely the worst investment company with atrocious customer service. Due to lack of foresight, Vanguard's lack of attention to detail caused my new company's retirement department to send me my Rollover check back to me and labeled it as an "Ineligible Rollover" because Vanguard did not include a Proof of Plan Qualification nor a Distribution statement of the funds, despite numerous requests to do so. Process started all over again with multiple phone calls to Vanguard and wait times averaging over 1 hour.
Despite having sent the required IRA Rollover fax to Vanguard requesting the Rollover, customer service agents did not understand how to retrieve nor read the fax labeling it as "incomplete". When I asked to speak to a supervisor to look into the matter, the supervisor confirmed all required pages of the form were in fact sent, however due to internal issues at Vanguard, the customer service people were not able to read the full number of pages of my fax. Bottom line: Terrible internal logistical operations to include ** customer service in the form of long wait times on the phone (easily over 1 hour to speak to a supervisor).
The rollover request described above was filled out correctly and I requested the "Total Amount" of funds to be rolled over. Result: You guessed it, Vanguard only sent 60% of my money as a rollover, later telling me that since the other 40% were stocks and ETF's that I would first have to sell them and put those funds into my Market fund before the distribution can be made. Bottom line: The supervisor agreed that this little fact was not easily apparent on their distribution form. Folks, bottom line is stay away from Vanguard. They are irresponsible, with poor customer service and internal logistics issues. I will never send another penny to Vanguard.
I called Vanguard to retrieve some money out of my accounts. They sent 3 checks out that took 8 days to arrive (USPS). Checks were made out to my address, my name nowhere on them. Bank declined to accept. This is when it got bad. I called Vanguard, I was put on hold and dropped several times before I finally got someone to keep me (on hold for over and hour) then just when I thought I was getting somewhere "Nathan" said he would transfer me to someone who was in the Department I needed to speak to. I sat on hold another hour. I gave up, called again, to be told that Nathan had went home for the day! Left me on hold while he went home. They assured me it would be taken care of. Checks would be sent FedEx over night, might take a day to get them out. Supervisor assured me I'd be called 2 days later to confirm this. No call was received so I called again.
I was assured the checks had been sent out, but no tracking number would be provided. They don't do this for some reason, and they weren't able to track the checks themselves either. So next day I call again, talk to Mr. Kyle ** (another supervisor). He too cannot find a tracking number for checks. Another day passes, he calls me the next morning to let me know the checks had somehow got send USPS again! Would I like him to cancel the checks and have them overnighted FedEx. Are you kidding me!?! By now I've lost all faith in this company and told him so. Apologies for the mix up. It's been two weeks since my first phone call requesting the withdrawal I have not received check yet! I spoke to at least 6 different people during all this, all saying how sorry they were. No type of compensation was offered. I want to file a formal complaint against Vanguard, not sure where to do that. So posting here for others to beware.
I've attempted to withdraw money from my investment account to no avail TWICE in different years. They play the "wear our personal investors down until they throw their hands up and quit" game very well. Each time as requested I've resubmitted documents, submit additional document, and then resubmitted sometimes the same documents already received. The customer service representatives are well versed on the company needs, but have no clue OR have no motivation to RELEASE MY MONEY when I need it. They claim there isn't any way to speak to the department that receives these documents to verify... you have to wait until they enter them in the system. I have never been successful at withdrawing money to ease the financial burden for 2 life emergencies (12 years with Vanguard) that I've had which totally further frustrates my situation. This organization SUCKS!
I moved 3 years ago and have called Vanguard 3 times a year since (record of 9 names and dates), each time they assured me they changed my address. Over 1 hour again on the phone today only to be told they can't change as account out of their control. Meantime person information continues to be sent to my old address. This isn't okay, they have a responsibility to protect my information. Only way to change is to send them more information via fax. I am moving all accounts out. This isn't the way to protect your investors.
They have the court order in hand. It is no secret that he owes the money. He knows he owes it, and so do they. In the meantime I am losing the interest that should be growing in my children's 529 plan (which is where I wanted to place those funds). All the while my ex-husband reaps the benefits. Vanguard, you stink! Thanks for nothing. Thanks for attorney fees that I should not be responsible for because your company cannot get their crap together.
Mom had a revocable trust (sometimes called living trust). When she died, we called Vanguard, who immediately cut off access to the funds. We submitted all the correct forms within a few days. Nothing happened for a month. When we called, we were told that a specific individual was assigned to this account but he was NEVER available. Would not return calls. Nada. Finally, after 2 months of calling and writing to increasingly important people up to the CFO, the a new account was created with the successor trustee. The cost basis was not updated, as required by federal law. If the Vanguard results stood, we would have been responsible for over $74,000 in taxes which was wrong. Another 4 weeks of agony.
During that time, I spoke to the 'responsible' person at Vanguard who refused to change anything. Finally, a person from the brokerage unit called. I explained the 8 weeks of agony. He fixed the problem in one day! We transferred half a million dollars to Fidelity. Vanguard funds perform well. The rest of the company has gone to ** in a handbag.
In Nov. I went to the bank and had their financial officer help me roll my 401k over and all was set but the check never showed. Vanguard insists that it has to be mailed and it takes 7 to 10 days. I waited and nothing. I called and they said they never processed it and could not explain why they didn't... I had to go through it all again and again the check never showed up. I called again and they canceled that check and supposedly sent another and it has not shown up as well. Here it is Jan 7 and NO CHECK plus my 401k is not earning anything. I am losing money. When I talked with Vanguard they are very unapologetic not taking responsibility and when it was suggested to overnight it they couldn't because I had no way of paying unless I had a FedEx account. You would think after all this they would PAY FedEx to overnight that check. I am angry and am getting a lawyer and I am suing! This is no way to do business with people!
I spent two hours trying to make a simple 401k withdrawal this a.m. Neither the website nor three other representatives whom I spoke with were able to assist me. Finally, I was told I needed a "termination transaction." It's important to never identify yourself as a dissatisfied customer or you will spend another hour waiting on hold like I did.
I opened an account in 2016 and have tried to change the account from sole name to a joint account. I have suffered long wait on telephone (over 30mins) then I got cut off. Missed faxes. Customer service reps gave conflicting advice. Wrong forms were sent, filled in and then and new ones were resent. Once the right ones were faxed and the representative said it would take 15 business days to deal with this request as they were so overloaded (that was nearly 4 weeks over the holiday period). The reps are all very nice but the system is broken - highly manual, forms difficult to find online, use of snail mail and general 21st century systems, applications and digital signatures.
I been investing in Vanguard for many years. It seems each year the company is getting worse in Customer service. They don't answer your questions correctly, they end of b s you, when requesting to talk to a Supervisor they tell you they are not available. What you can't understand they have your money and they really don't care. I would not recommend Vanguard at all and will transfer all money to another company. You expect more from a company that has your money.
I created an account online with rep. Jon **, a nice, professional-sounding guy. The system said it had a problem with my identity. I was shocked but since I had changed my name (legally) in 2010, I thought maybe it was a fluke. I told him my former name and he said, "No, it is not showing up as THAT name." I let it go and proceeded with the process as the system seemed to let us move forward. He indicated that he would mail me the papers overnight delivery via Fedex, then corrected himself and said twice, "No, I'll send it via Postal express." The next day I received a FEDEX envelope with the return envelope enclosed, but no papers! I called and the rep. who took my call could not find me in the system.
Granted my account had not been finalized yet, I WAS registered with my social security number, and all other kinds of identifying info. This added to my concern re identity issues. I logged into my "account" (still in system) to complain requesting cancellation of the whole process. Jon responded, indicating that he sent two applications by mistake, one via Postal Ex. and the other via Fedex, with no apology for the empty Fedex package. Since then, I have received a Fedex package with the application enclosed. Should I expect a third mailing now from the post office??? Too many inconsistencies to establish any trust. I guess I ought to be grateful that I never gave them a chance to screw up my investments.
My wife recently tried to get money out of her account to pay the mortgage. 10 days have gone by no check. When she called getting the check canceled was no problem. They could FedEx to us overnight at our expense, but we had to have a FedEx account. Not sure how many ordinary people have FedEx accounts. The first time she took money out they offered direct deposit but did not do it. Once a check has been issued they would not do direct deposit, supposedly then anyone could get the money out of the for security reasons. If the check is void, and the account info for the direct deposit is same, there is no security issue that I can see. Furthermore, when I asked to speak to the supervisor, he never did do it, even though he put us on hold twice to speak to him. Incidentally I talked to the rep personally at my wife's request. I finally gave up and hope we receive the money in time.
I have tried multiple time over the past day or two to contact the "customer service" number at Vanguard so I can roll over my 401K. I have been on hold for 10 - 15 - 30 minutes with a message "all agents are busy - wait time is 5 to 7 minutes" (!), so eventually gave up. The "customer service" number I used was 1 800 523 9442 and one or two others when that did not work, but to no avail. I wonder if I should be even thinking of dealing with this organization to invest my money?!
My wife and I have been using Vanguard as a chief provider for our savings accounts for 30 years: Retirement, College, Personal. We were recently locked out of our college savings account. It took 20 phone calls and a certified letter to gain access to our account again. This occurred over a 60 day period. During this time, some idiot decided to blanket us and lock us out of the rest of our accounts. We were told that the notes on our account said we were posing as impostors. We have made numerous additional calls. There is never a supervisor available to speak with us. We have been given times to expect calls. The calls never come. Then they said we had to send another certified letter! We did and followed up with a call and instead of unlocking our other accounts, they rest our college account.
The Vanguard funds are wonderful and I have enjoyed the ability to manage my own finances, but it has become nearly impossible to do now. I have wasted many hours over the past 3 months just trying to gain access to my accounts. The customer service people at Vanguard has totally hit bottom. As a client with a 7 figure balance I expect to receive better service from my financial partner, but perhaps Vanguard has grown too large for this to be possible anymore.
I have been trying to get a hold of Vanguard for the past week and end up being on hold for hours. Where is the sec enforcement people regarding protecting the consumer.
Customer service is not setup for quick or customer convenient resolution of matters. Phone calls can only be placed during working hours, tough for me to do. When you do call you go into a holding loop, first time after 40 minutes my phone was dead and I had to get back to work, second time it was about 20 minutes,. E-mail is a 2-10 day delay to get response for each email. Instructions are conflicting, in my case for a rollover I was told how to send and address check. After I mailed I received a phone from a representative who said 'Vanguard would not and could not' accept my check for legal reasons and I would to get new ones cut. Then Vanguard cashed the check and deposited into my account. At this point I am so frustrated. I still trying to get this money. Vanguard couldn't accept back to; I can invest at a broker who does have good customer service.
We have been Vanguard clients for over thirty years. Lately, we have been consolidating assets. Because of PAST good experiences we naturally chose Vanguard. Mistake! The higher level customer service numbers for larger accounts continually state that "Vanguard is currently closed" when it is absolutely not closed. Brokerage Reps can't answer questions. The entire situation is proving impossible.
I have made a big mistake relying on past experience when the organization is failing--excuse the Trumpism. It is clear that the explosion in assets Vanguard is receiving cannot be adequately managed and they are refusing to publicly acknowledge this fact. The failure to publicly own up is the greatest mistake an organization can make for its future. Vanguard evidently did not learn the 40-year-old lesson Johnson & Johnson taught the corporate world when they quickly admitted the Tylenol problem and thereby saved the company and the product.
Everything takes weeks to process. You call then wait on hold for 30-45 minutes in order to talk to someone who has no clue how to do anything. I have been trying to withdraw from my IRA for a month now, every time I call them I talk to some new 20-year old that has no clue what's going on and wants different documents. I keep sending them different signed documents. Still no money has been sent, meanwhile my account is losing money. I get an email every once in a while to contact them. I call them and get a new story every time.
Until earlier this year client services were generally very good at Vanguard. Then, suddenly the good people got promoted and the less experienced, read... know nothing reps moved in. Additionally, it was no longer possible to dial a number and be transferred to your reps phone. No. Now you push prompt 1, 2 or hold. And hold and hold. If you actually want to speak directly with your new inexperienced rep, then you're directed to make an appointment by going to their website! This is absolutely insane. I guess Flagship service is like saying Sewer service at this point. It also took them a month to do an institution to institution IRA transfer, after making me fill out paperwork twice. They are now totally clueless. Having funds with low charges is one thing, but providing zero competence to handle these funds is something else.
Barbara FriedbergPersonal Finance Contributing Editor
Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a former investment portfolio manager with decades of financial experience. Friedberg taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Yahoo!Finance and many more publications.
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Vanguard Company Profile
- Company Name:
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- Vanguard P.O. Box 1110
- Valley Forge
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- United States