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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