A family member has had some of her IRA invested in some Vanguard mutual funds for decades. She has been taking RMDs from these investments for some time. That all has worked smoothly. The initial investment(s) predated the existence of Vanguard's brokerage. Last week she received an email from Vanguard urging her to "transition" (is that really a verb?) her mutual fund accounts to the VBA platform or face the consequences. VBA turns out to stand for Vanguard Brokerage Account, not Very Bad Arrangement. The consequences are a yearly fee of $20 and a $60 penalty.
Well, OK, she has no need for a brokerage but the method is said to be simple. Click right there in the email message, follow the directions that will appear as a website window opens and it will all be done in a few minutes. And if there's a problem (why are they anticipating problems ?) just phone this number. She clicked. She followed the directions. A few minutes later a message appeared saying it was all accomplished; transition complete. Next day she logged into her account and there appeared not one but two messages urging her to "transition" as soon as possible.
Together we phoned the number. The recorded voice told us everyone was busy but if we leave a phone number we'll be phoned back in a few minutes. We did and we did receive a call soon after. The Vanguard feller was intelligent and competent. I received permission to join the conversation and he said he'd complete the process. It didn't work for him either. He said that in that case he would create a new account and put everything there and all would be well. He couldn't do it. The computer system told him there was nothing in her account eligible for transition. He told us he'd look into it and phone us back the next day. That was 5 days ago. He did not phone. There is no change in her account and no apparent transition.
Vanguard is threatening fines and fees if customers don't comply with a system that does not work. I suggested to the Vanguard agent that perhaps the system was overloaded and it would take time to process the transition. He said that was possible but he just did not know what was wrong. I guess he still doesn't know.
There are people here at MFO who are savvy and well-informed. Does someone have an idea what might be going on?