Updated: May 3, 2013 12:14PM
Originally published: October 24, 2005
Let’s find out readers’ banking pet peeves
What’s your financial pet peeve? What drives you crazy when it comes to dealing with money, banks, brokers, credit-card companies?
In such a sophisticated world of personal finance, it certainly doesn’t pay to get crazy over slow Internet connections, ATMs that have no ink in the receipt printer or those annoying advertisements that drop out of your bank statement when you open the envelope.
We should save our anger for serious financial problems -- like identity theft or stock market declines or unexpected increases in interest rates on credit-card balances and mortgage loans. Why get upset about petty things? That’s what I asked myself when I left the bank today, steaming about my absolute biggest pet peeve.
It’s not that I hardly know my bank anymore. That’s been annoying enough, as I watched my First National Bank become First Chicago, and then NBD-First Chicago, and then Bank One and now Chase.
I can deal with that -- and I do -- by using the rubber deposit stamp that says “First National Bank of Chicago” to endorse the back of my check deposits.
My banking pet peeve
No, my banking pet peeve has existed through all those transitional names -- and new management doesn’t ever seem to change it. Here’s what drives me crazy: Why is it that there are always just one, or at most two, windows open and at least eight people standing in line for the one teller assigned to work?
It’s not that the architects of the bank didn’t plan for multiple customers. There are at least seven “windows” along the counter with the little doors politely slammed shut. And the red velvet ropes between dirty floor mats guide the unwary customer into a queue that takes forever while the one available teller checks driver’s license IDs to make sure no fraud occurs.
Now, to be fair, when I stopped in at my local Bank One -- oops, Chase -- branch in mid-afternoon, there were two other windows open. One was helping “business” customers, specifically a guy who dragged in some heavy-looking bags of coins.
The other open window was marked “Customer Service.” That looked promising, but the customer service representative informed me that window could not take deposits, cash checks, or do any other customer banking business. I could order new checks.
Scattered around the office were some guys who were either supposed to be opening new accounts or helping sell investment products. But it didn’t look like they’d be talking to anyone, because all the customers were tapping their toes in line.
I asked for the manager, and was informed that “John” was in the back, moving some boxes. Shame he wasn’t out in front, moving some customers by getting other teller windows open.
I’m a big proponent, as you know, of online bill pay. I hardly ever write a paper check anymore. I used to be able to create an online bill payment, and have it reach the recipient in a day or two. I now find those payments take five full business days until they are sent.
Because I use online bill pay, I rarely see the inside of my bank, though I’m familiar with all the local ATMs. But I stopped in this week to make a deposit in person, after being caught up last month by my newest banking pet peeve. I had mailed in a deposit, and then a week later had written a check drawn on my account. They were nice enough to call to let me know they were about to bounce my check!
Outsourced to Kentucky
I wondered how that was possible, having given six days for the deposit to arrive in my account. My banker informed me that the newly printed bank deposit envelopes now direct my deposits to some place in Kentucky! That easily consumes five days, or more, before the deposit is credited to my account.
I just searched my desk drawer and found I still have a few envelopes that are pre-addressed to “Mail Suite IL1-0143, Chicago, Il 60670-0143.” I’m going to use those, along with my old First National Bank rubber endorsement stamp. (Gosh, I’m beginning to sound like Andy Rooney.)
I can’t be the only one with financial pet peeves. Certainly you must have a few of your own that you’d like to share with me. I’ll print the best in a future column if you’ll e-mail me at Savage@Suntimes.com. I have sincere doubts, though, that we can change anything for the better. And that’s The Savage Truth.
Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser and the author of the newly published The Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Need to Retire? (256 pages, Wiley, $24.95).