Word Worth®
                      ©World Magazine of Ideas and the Arts™ — Summer 2017 Volume XVII,  Issue 3

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The Death of Banks

Banks had poor reputations in the 1800s for taking away homes from helpless people including widows as well as for losing depositors money when they were robbed. This led to people hiding their money in mattresses. In the second half of the 1900s, federal insurance bolstered confidence in the institutions and banks were no longer known for taking away homes—although we do know of a bank in the early 50s leading away the cow of a widow with young children because she owed them money.

Still, you could pretty much trust them, but now they seem to be intent on reversing that.

They began with trying to convince people to allow them not to return checks. Cancelled checks were an excellent way of keeping track of funds and, when necessary, proving that a bill had been paid. Gradually, banks made it increasingly impossible for depositors to get checks returned, and now it takes some effort to get so much as a photocopy.

Worse, they allow anyone to deposit a check with a cell phone, meaning that your check disappears anywhere, in any manner. With identity theft becoming more and more rampant, people are advised to shred any financial papers. Checks have your name, signature, bank routing number, your account number, usually your address, and often your phone number. The recipient can deposit the check by phone and toss it anywhere. Even when banks shred checks, they often hire shredding companies who have minimum wage employees drive away piles of sensitive documents in trucks.

In the 1990s, bank websites made banking more convenient and time saving. Some sites were superior to others in usefulness. Now, in 2017, they are working hard to reverse that. One bank, which for the moment will remain nameless, suddenly, without warning changed their site. The new site has far less information about  clients’ accounts. You can transfer your money from one account to another, and it shows the money out of the first account, but your money disappears for 24 hours or more. The old site showed exactly where your money was. No more.

Clients don’t have the option of using the old site. It is just gone—along with their ability to account for where their money is.

I phoned an upper level manager who was defensive, dismissive, and arrogant. “The old site was more of an accounting site. This is an app site,” he sneered, and used the term, “user friendly,” intentionally implying that problem is the ignorance of the client rather than the extremely sloppy site that it now is.

Apparently, this bank wants to appeal to twenty-somethings who may have money in forty years, but not to clients who actually have money now and want to account for where their money is.

They use a new term for how complaints are handled: bubble up. Call the lower level personnel and they know how to bubble up your comments to the upper level. As one person remarked, “You mean bubble up like when someone’s in a bath tub or hot tub.”

Forgetting for a moment the crash of 2008 caused by banks inveigling homeowners into taking out mortgages they couldn’t afford—for which a lot of people should be in prison, but instead a lot of former homeowners are sleeping in cardboard boxes or under bridges—banks are working hard to make themselves obsolete by ignoring their clients’ needs.

It’s no longer wise to use checks. Bank websites which for a short time were helpful, now are dangerous.

What will replace banks: Amazon? Will Facebook devise something?

It’s too soon to tell, but something will, and a lot of bank executives will be where they deserve to be: out of jobs.

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