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Written By : Richard SchwartzCategory : 3. Everything
Location : Nashua, NH

I have been using the same bank branch office for my personal accounts for twenty years. The name on the sign has changed quite a few times, from Nashua Federal Savings to BayBank to BankBoston, to Fleet Bank,and most recently Bank of America, but my accounts have stayed in the same place through the various mergers and acquisitions. In all this time, I've always been able to walk into the bank, pick up a deposit slip in the lobby, fill it out and make a deposit even if I don't happen to have my checkbook with me. I don't, as a matter of fact, tend to carry a checkbook most of the time. I carry a card that has my account numbers on it instead, so I know what numbers to fill in on the deposit slip. On Friday, I found out that while I can still make the deposit, I can't just pick up a deposit slip and fill it out. Not any more.

There are no longer any nice little stacks of deposit slips in the lobby of the bank. One might wonder why that's the case. I certainly did, so I asked. What I was told amazed me. If you are in a branch office in a state other than the state where the account was opened, you now need to use a deposit slip with special coding on it that identifies what state you are making the deposit in, so from now on one needs to give the teller the account information so that she can pick the correct deposit slip and fill it out. And since my branch is just a mile from the state line, if they left a bunch of deposit slips lying around in the lobby someone might (gasp!) take some of them and try to make deposits in a branch in Massachusetts, which would screw everything up. I kid you not. That's the explanation.

Of course, if you are carrying your checkbook with you so that you can use your pre-printed deposit slips, you don't need the special coding; and if you use an ATM you don't even need a deposit slip. But if you walk into the branch sans checkbook, you can't save everyone some time by filling out a generic deposit slip before you get to the teller window. I started to ask, "but don't your computers know what state an account is in, and can't they just print the right information on a generic deposit slip?"... but I had an instinctive feeling that logic and common sense had precious little to do with this situation, so I held back.

But then the most amazing thing happened. The teller offered me a supply of deposit slips to take with me! My jaw dropped. "But, but, but... If you're willing to hand me a bunch of deposit slips to take with me, aren't you worried that I might take them across the state line and make a deposit with the wrong slip? Sure... you've told me not to, but you could have just as easily have put up a little sign on your bin of deposit slips in the lobby that says 'For use in New Hampshire only', or if you think your customers aren't quite intelligent enough to understand that you could say 'For use in this branch only'. You could even print it right there on the slips in big red letters."

When the teller tried to come up with an answer, I cut her off. I said "Look, you've managed to find a way to make banking take more of your customers' time than it needs to. I don't think we need to compound that problem here by discussing it at length", and I turned and went out the door. I'm sure it did absolutely no good at all, but it at least felt for a moment like a small victory.

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Comments :v

1. Stephan H. Wissel08/29/2005 01:54:45 AM

Hi Richard,
buh! The poor teller is probably at the same receiving end of this "process improvement" (read: the law of unintended consequences) as you are. By offering you the slips (s)he worked his/her way around the stupidity of the org/policy department just to get scolded by you.
Buy some candy!

2. Alex Wilson08/29/2005 09:23:41 AM

I gave up on commercial banks many years ago. I have dealt with a credit union since 1987 and have never had any issues. I never have been into the main office of this place. I do all my work online, over the phone or via ATM. I do maintain a regular bank account for my old business, but the rules drive me nuts. The other day, I got an inactive account charge from them for $15.

This is where it gets absurd... they claim it costs them money to hold my money when I am not making deposits or withdraws. Hmmm... let me see... I don't give you any transactions, you just generate a statement and somehow that costs you $15.

Okay, I will mail in a meager deposit of $1 tomorrow. Every few months, I will write a check from that account for the various $1 deposits and send it back to my credit union as a deposit. So how much did all that crap cost you to process? But you won't charge me a fee then!

Banks... almost as bad as the goverment when it comes to absurd ways of doing business!

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