Monday, March 14, 2011

Bank Follies

TD Bank North advertises a lot in Boston. TD Bank North's motto is "America's Most Convenient Bank.” While Canada, Mexico and the United States all form part of "North America", when I read “America's Most Convenient Bank” sitting at my desk in the heart of New England, I'm thinking United States. Call me crazy, but I think that's what I'm supposed to think. Imagine my surprise upon learning that the TD of TD Bank North stands, in fact, for Toronto Dominion. Unless I am very much mistaken or unless there were diplomatic negotiations last night of which I am not aware (it could happen), Toronto is still somewhat north of the U.S. border. This could be a ploy on the part of TD Bank North to step in and slap us around a little fiscally, which given the hash we have made of our own banking situation, may not be such a bad idea. However, I would have preferred to know who was doing the slapping.

I personally bank with a different bank. A truly huge bank which, to avoid any potential lawsuits, I will simply call MegaBank whose motto I'm pretty sure is: "Please Hold for the Next Available Representative." They have recently installed time-saving ATMs and by time-saving, I mean for them. We were sold on the new ATM deposit system with the glittering promise of  "No More Envelopes!" Has that been a major issue up until now? I was not aware that using a deposit envelope accounted for a large part for the national angst. But then again, I don't have my finger on the pulse of Envelope Haters of America. While I'm sure the elimination of envelopes saves MegaBank gazillions of dollars - sorry - is good for the environment, I am not totally sold on its replacement.

Here's how it goes. You grab your stack of checks and when prompted, feed them neatly into the correct slot which has conveniently just opened for you. Sounds simple, right? Well it isn't. For one thing, there is a right way and a wrong way of feeding checks in. Too far to the right or left and they don't read. And I should mention that the ATM is beeping this whole time so NO PRESSURE - JUST HURRY UP AND FEED THE DAMN THINGS IN. At this point, there is a line building up behind you which is comprised entirely of impatient people all on their cellphones telling their friends that they wouldn't believe the IDIOT at the ATM now so just hold their double-mocha Frappuccino, they will be there SOON provided the MORON currently using the machine CAN GET WITH THE PROGRAM.

Once you have convinced the little electronic psychopath that the little pieces of paper you have been shoving at it for the last ten minutes represent actual money, you have to decide whether or not you want a printed receipt.  Given that the whole point of going 'envelope free' (which, now that I see it in print sounds a little like running around naked) is to save paper, you would think I would feel guilty about printing this out. Not so. I don't trust that ATM any farther than I could throw it which, believe me, isn't far. I'll take the evidence.

All in all, this process takes about three times the time it took on the old machines, where, if you could conquer your fear of envelopes, you could be done in about a minute. MegaBank's claim is that 'the money hits your account sooner'. Sooner than what? Not sooner than they can take it out when you do an automatic transfer. I'm not entirely convinced they didn't deduct those amounts from my account even before I walked into the lobby. The minute you hit that "Transfer" button, you can almost hear cackling from behind the keypad. "I'll get you My Pretty, and your little bank balance too."

Far be it from me to stand in the way of progress. If things 'progress' in this vein any further, I might 'progress' right back to the money under the mattress. I think the interest rates are a pretty much a toss-up.

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