Fake accounts and accountability: Wells Fargo and the public hospital
Published in 48 Hills
In late 2015, a sign mysteriously appeared on the outside of San Francisco General Hospital dubbing the area in front of the main entrance “Wells Fargo Plaza.” This move by a public hospital to honor an international banking and financial services company was made without the knowledge or consent of San Francisco residents.
While hospitals often name space at facilities after individuals or groups who act in the public interest, Wells Fargo is hardly an exemplar of philanthropic graciousness. The company has been pilloried in the press recently for opening accounts on behalf of two million customers without asking or telling them, then hitting them with fees—a scandal that led to $185 million in combined fines. And Wells Fargo also has lesser-known ties to unsavory practices such as profiting from foreclosures, discriminating against black and Latino customers, promoting union busting, and backing LGBTQI “conversion therapy.” That record of attacking the very people served by San Francisco General Hospital makes Wells Fargo a curious choice for any honor, much less having its name attached to a hospital that serves the city’s most vulnerable residents.