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April 07, 2011


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I think 24 hours or less is appropriate.

I agree with the web site comments, but I think I'm okay with a 48 hour email response.

As you mentioned, you could always call if you want a faster response. The reason I'm okay with 48 hours, is I get the vibe that they know they can give a quality response in 48 hours. If they try to answer quicker, something has to give, and maybe that means they'd give a response of a lesser quality.

So if you needed a quicker response, give them a call. If it's not immediate, I'd be okay waiting the 24 hours.

I invest with Vanguard and have for many years. I've also invested with ETrade. If I have a specific question, I want it answered now, not in 48 hours.

My suggestion is to always call and speak with a representative who can give you an answer. This has always worked well for me.

Is it 48 hours average or 48 hours maximum? Do they usually take close to the 48 hours?

Also, I've found their website to be tremendously easy to use.

What is bugging me lately about their website: I want to set up a regular electronic transfer from my bank to Vanguard (initiated by my bank, not by Vanguard). The instructions were darn near impossible to find, and when I did find them, I have to download a PDF to read the instructions. However, Vanguard will not allow me to download the PDF, because it thinks I don't have Adobe Reader installed, when I do!

Businesses' sloppiness on their website makes me particularly crazy, because I am a software / web developer! My husband says I should use my annoyance at these companies to get myself some freelance work...

I can get a representative on the phone in 2 minutes, if that.

I know it takes more effort with a phone call, but it's much faster.

If it takes 48 hours to get a response, I would end up calling anyway.

"Financial advisors" also generally get 1% of your portfolio on top of other expenses. I'll take the 48 hour turnaround.

i certainly would expect more, 24 hours at most. however, we choose vanguard for a reason, and we do get what we pay for


I think you are forgetting that Vanguard is the low cost provider in this space. Therefore I would expect that there would be some compromises.

After all I've read on this site, and others, I am in the process of moving my Roth to Vanguard right now; the subject scared me at first! I agree that the cost is why we use them, and if I could "like" Strick's comment I would. They've also been very quick and helpful on the phone with me so far. I'd also like to know if 48 hours is the average or maximum and what the typical rate is actually.

I have no problems with their website, both functionality and layout work fine for me. It may be a personal style issue for the layout, but it flows naturally enough for me.

And for LL, being able to open a PDF from a website is generally affected by your browser and your acrobat install, it shouldn't be the website's fault.

I've gotten email responses fairly quickly on the very few occasions I have questions. I agree that phone contact is faster, but I also think that some delay is worth getting a quality response and still having low costs.

Sorry, but I think your points are not well taken.

Website - yep, not great, but you get what you pay for and I have always found what I needed. Having said that, give Fidelity's a try. I have accounts with both -Fidelity is not the low cost provider like Vanguard and theirs is a worse mess.

As one of the posters mentioned, they don't have the sharpest IT interfaces and etc, but I'm not sure I want to pay for them.

Second, I doubt if you are using Vanguard as a financial advisor. If you are like me you are using them because you are your own financial advise and they are the rock bottom low cost provider, continue to take cost out on a regular basis and pass it on as lower fees on a regular basis and are the ideal asset custodian for cheapskates like us. Comparing their services to those of an advisor is like comparing the Four Seasons hotel and Motel Six.

Third, if you need something pick up the phone and call. As you well know they have dedicated lines and decent or better customer service.

Don't you think it's cheaper and faster for the company to answer an email than a phone call? I suspect the preference for phone is either privacy driven or just poor planning.

Why is it that people want first class service on a coach fair? You are at Vanguard because of their low fees/costs and their customers service/website is good, not great, not the gold standard. If you want that type of service, pay for it, but don't ask the rest of us to.

I've been investing my Roth IRA with Vanguard now for two years.

Is there a way to view the expenses taken out of my account? I know what the expense ratio is, but is there a way to see it in action? What I want is to look at the transaction report and see line items showing my contributions, dividends being reinvested, and the expenses being taken out. Why does it not show the expenses being taken out and is there a way to find this?

Thanks for the help

Jim (and the few others making the "you get what you pay for" comments --

Yes, I realize that VG is the low-cost provider. That said, the amount of money I have invested with them is significant, so even though they make a small amount on each dollar (low expense ratios), I have a large amount of dollars there and so they make a good deal off of me.

In fact, I supposedly have a "special" group that responds faster to my requests because of the business I do with them...

I've worked at Vanguard (as a consultant), and FMF is spot on about being loathe to spend money to update the web site. There is a truly impressive ethos of frugality through the entire company - they are one of the best out there at only spending money on things that really impact their customers. There just aren't vanity projects or spend before the fiscal year ends type things that you see everywhere else.

It's a very lean operation and their web site and customer service SLAs reflect that.

I second Wild Bill's comments regarding the website. I can get all the information I need and it has a clean layout.

Of course, I must add the only site I use to compare it to is the Fidelity website - which I find to be absolutely horrible. Annual return? YTD return? They provide return from date of investment - really?! Not so helpful.

I love to know which low-cost no-fee brokers have a better website.

I use Fidelty all the time. I think the web site is great. It gives me the abilty to take care of most what I need to get done. I usually just call if I have a question and I usually get good help.

As for Vanguard and the " you get what you pay for" Your not talking about a pair a blue jeans here. Vanguard is a billion dollar company. No reason at all why their web site and support department shouldn't be top notch. IMO

I used to have my account with Vanguard and disliked their website interface. I thought their online customer service was okay, the phone help was better. Now, I use TD Ameritrade and love it. TDA website has a lot of investment information and their customer service so far has been very good. I've never felt that it took them too long to respond, too bad I can't quite remember the exact length of their respond time. I believe for some of my questions they replied in less than 24 hours.

I agree the website is just eh, but I touch those accounts so rarely that I don't mind a few extra minutes on the site when I do go there.

I really disagree that Vanguard is an "advisor" in a broader sense, or any sense at all really. They provide a product, at a very low cost, which can be used as a part of your financial plan. That product, however, is not advice, unless they advise you how to purchase their product more efficiently. It's just not their role.

I agree with billyjobob.
I am a longtime customer at Fidelity. They have three levels of service depending upon the total value of your accounts.
1) Fidelity Client
2) Fidelity Premium Client
3) Fidelity Private Client
I started at level 1 and am now at level 3.

The website is wonderful and super easy to navigate and find whatever you are looking for.
Their Fidelity Active Trader Pro software is also wonderful. It does everything I need to keep track of my family's accounts, get quotes, place orders, check balances, examine trading history etc. There is another support group that takes care of any queries you may have about the software and I have found them to be very knowledgeable and have always obtained what I needed.

They also have a Bond Desk that deals with fixed income investments such as CDs and Bonds of all types.

As a member of a private client group I have the e-mail address and phone number of the manager of a local Fidelity Service Center that is about 3 miles away. E-mails receive fast replies. Phone calls involve hardly any wait time at all. Fidelity has a support service that is available 24-7. If your normal representative is busy, has gone home, or it's outside of normal business hours the call gets automatically re-routed to other service centers located throughout the USA. I seldom have to wait for more than 3 or 4 rings before the phone is answered.

My only criticism is that, as a person that does 100% of his own analysis and makes all of his own investment decisions using a proprietary fund database with unique analysis software to which I subscribe, I sometimes get much more Fidelity service than I need. I get invitations to join in conference calls with top fund managers, invitations to seminars held at local hotels, often combined with a meal, meetings at my nearest Fidelity Service Center, and invitations to participate in surveys.

I have never dealt with any other company in any other field of business that provides the level of service that I receive from Fidelity. I wish every company I deal with was like Fidelity. If I were to pass on before my wife she knows the people at our local service center and would be in good hands to continue taking care of our portfolio.

My two cents on Vanguard...

Sent an e-mail last Sunday, got a response on Friday (120 hour turnaround?) Granted, it is the end of tax season, but still.

However, my main beef with Vanguard is their limited phone support hours. I'd like someone available when I'm actually working on my finances, ie. the weekends and evenings. Since they don't have enough available hours during these times, I send e-mails, and it takes them a while to respond.

I have no comment on the timing issue, but I actively like Vanguard's web site. It is clean and straightforward; much easier to use than Fidelity's; bells and whistles don't do it for me.

The tens of thousands I am saving in expense ratio, turnover, taxes and commissions is worth an extra click on their website. GIve Vanguard a call instead of an e-mail and wait for 48-hours. Be proactive about your issue by making a call? No?

Also, like Jim from above mentioned...If you want first class service instead of the cost effective service Vanguard offers, feel free to buy American Funds with a 5.75% commission from the financial "advisor" down the road and let him manage your money for 1% on top of the 1.5% expense ratio and I am quite sure you will receive prompt and ready customer service...

I've had no problem with Vanguard's website. I actually like it compared to some others. However, the response time is poor. I think that within 24 hours is appropriate.

I like Vanguard's website, and can find everything I want fairly quickly. I love that downloading data into Quicken is easy to do as well (except from the 529 account). Since I use Vanguard for buy and hold, not active trading, I rarely have an issue which needs an immediate response. Sending an email and getting a detailed response within a couple days is fine. I'm not on their site and dealing with finances daily, so sometimes they respond but I still don't get around to reading the response for a few more days.

I loathe Fidelity's site. I'm not a stock trader. I don't care about margin calls, buying individual stocks, and so on. As a result, I'm not interested in most of their bells and whistles and trying to find the info I want takes forever. Not being able to download data into Quicken annoys me every time I have to look at data over there and is the final straw. I'm working on getting all our family's money moved as soon as I can get my husband to make the final phone call for his account.

People have issues with Vanguard's website? Who are you guys investing with that has a better site? I've got probably five different providers. Bar none, the Vanguard site is tops. It is a bit clunky in spots but it actually facilitates me knowing stuff about my account. Smith Barney in comparison, for example, is atrocious. And I always just call Vanguard. Get my answer immediately.

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