Wells Fargo has issued a public apology after rejecting the design idea of a Baltimore schoolteacher who wanted to personalize her debit card with a Black Lives Matter image. However, the bank is standing by its reasons for turning down the woman’s design.
The issue arose early last week when Baltimore educator Rachel Nash attempted to use the Wells Fargo “Card Design Studio” to customize her debit card with an image of a fist next to the words “Black Lives Matter,” The Modesto Bee reported. The bank ultimately denied her design idea, telling Nash that it “didn’t want to be associated with any ‘anti-social’ or offensive organizations.'”
In an interview with The Washington Post, Nash, who is white, explained that she was fed up with people belittling Black youths in front of her and hoped that her personalized card design would help spark conversation with cashiers and others whenever she pulled out her debit card.
“A lot of white people in Baltimore have really problematic views about race, and they feel like because I’m a white person, I agree with them automatically,” the 29-year-old said. “This is one way I can demonstrate regularly that I am not complicit in whatever their views are.”
Nash took to Facebook to voice her frustration over the incident, which garnered widespread media attention. On Wednesday, Jan. 18, the bank apologized to the teacher and offered an explanation for the incident on its “Wells Fargo Stories” webpage.
The bank, which is already embroiled in controversy stemming from a scandal in which bank employees opened a number of fake customer accounts, explained that its card design policy prohibits the use of any political images, “in an aim to keep Wells Fargo products politically neutral.” The use of potentially trademarked or copyrighted images are also forbidden and are grounds for the bank to reject a personalized design.
Wells Fargo insisted their policies were consistent with those of other banking institutions that allow customers to create their own card designs and stressed that the initial reasons given for declining Nash’s BLM design were misconstrued.
“In this instance, the card design submitted by the customer was rejected because of its political nature,” the bank wrote. “Regrettably, when the customer called to speak with a customer service representative about the decline, she was given an inaccurate reason for the decision.”
“When we decline or approve a card design, it is not a rejection or endorsement of an individual’s point of view,” Katherine Yee, head of Debit and Prepaid Products, added. “Consistent with our policy, we aim to avoid having political content displayed on our cards, and we err on the side of caution in that regard. The Card Design Studio service is not intended to be a forum for advocating political ideologies or other potentially controversial topics.”
Wells Fargo went on to say that close to 6 million of its customers have chosen to customize their debit and credit cards using the “Card Design Studio,” adding that the most commonly submitted images are of family members, pets and landscapes.