Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Deposits for dummies

As I've said before, working at Customer Service is a bit like working in the eye of a hurricane. You try to be calm while chaos is whirling all around you — and you have to approach the job with a problem-solving attitude — because lord knows none of the other idiots working at my store will try to help.

Even though the bank is less than ten feet from Customer Service and that a logical place for an ATM machine is RIGHT BY A FREAKING BANK and that there is a huge sign that says ATM and another huge sign that says BANK, people come up to me all the time and go "where's the ATM?" Sigh.

So when these two middle-aged white people walk up and ask where the ATM is, I do my best to make them feel stupid and say "It's just outside here between Customer Service and the bank under the big sign that says ATM." They leave.

And they're right back ten minutes later clutching one of the bank deposit envelopes and complaining.

THEM: "There's something wrong with this ATM."
ME: "Um, okay. That really belongs to the bank but let me see if I can help you."
THEM: "Is it not taking deposits today?"
ME: "Um, not that I know of. Do you have an envelope and your debit card?"
THEM: "We have an envelope. We're trying to put a check in to get money out of our bank in Ohio."
ME: "Um, which bank in Ohio are you trying to get money out of?" Because the bank in the Wal-Mart is a strictly local concern. Ten or twelve branches, tops. There is FOR SURE not one in Ohio.
THEM: "First National Credit of Ohio."
ME: "Um, you can only deposit at this bank's ATM if you have an account here. I'm pretty sure that's how ATM's everywhere work unless your bank has a relationship with another bank. I don't think you're going to be able to deposit that check." WHICH YOU SHOULD HAVE REALIZED WHEN IT DID NOT GIVE YOU THE OPTION TO "MAKE DEPOSIT"
THEM: "Then how can we get this money from this check?"
ME: "Um, let me see the check?" Predictably, it was a personal check.
ME: "Well, it's drawn on Bank of America, so Bank of America might cash it for you. But I don't know. Here's a phone book."

They look up A number and address for a Bank of America and leave. But really, if it was so important, wouldn't you cash or deposit the check before you left home, or do your banking at some place with branches where you live in the summer and the winter? And how do you get to be 45 and now KNOW HOW A FREAKING ATM WORKS?


Chris said...

I don't like ATM's and I don't trust them enough to use them to deposit money.

kelmeister said...

Why would you try to "cash" a check through an ATM? Why wouldn't you cash it at a bank...ANY BANK? Sure, you get charged $4 for not having an account there, but they'll still cash your check.

Love your blog, btw.

Kasia said...

I've worked at a bank and balanced the ATM. There's no problem with depositing through them (provided, of course, you bank with the bank). Only two caveats are:

1 - you will have the longest possible hold placed on the money, because as far as the ATM knows the envelope could be empty, the check could be made out to Santa Claus, or you could have put Monopoly money in the envelope;

2 - I *STRONGLY* advise against depositing cash. Yes, two people balance the ATM to minimize the chance of theft, but I just am not that trusting. Mistakes happen, theft happens, and if you put $100 cash into the envelope and they tell you the envelope was empty, good luck proving otherwise. As long as the ATM balances, you're out the money.

And Kelmeister, people have lots of reasons (not all of them good) for not cashing at a bank. Some are too cheap to pay the $4 fee. Some banks now put up a big fuss about cashing checks for non-customers, and take things like thumbprints - a lot of people don't like that. Some people only have a state ID, and if they're a non-customer the bank may not cash the check for them (fraud prevention). Etc, etc. And, of course, some people are just really ignorant of how the banking system works.

Pookie Pie said...

"And, of course, some people are just really ignorant of how the banking system works."

-this is so true. Here in Texas it's now a requirement in public schools that students take a class on financial matters just so they can, say, understand how banks work.

Hrag said...

This blog kicks major ass. I saw your blog in the BusinessWeek magazine and I've been hooked ever since. I'm from California, and we dont' have a lot of WalMarts here, but we do have a lot of dumbasses. Keep up the good work.

Michael said...

i work at a bank, and i agree that more people need to be educated about how banks work.

i mean...the questions and issues that customers bring to me is just rediculous.

what are they teaching in school these days??!?!!?

Anonymous said...

As entertaining as this blog is, i cant help but feel that this is a viral ploy of some sort...

or maybe i just don't like walmart

Anonymous said...

"viral ploy"

Thanks...I agree with you, on both counts!

Explains the blogs addy...bbcamerican

Kasia said...

i mean...the questions and issues that customers bring to me is just rediculous.

what are they teaching in school these days??!?!!?

Apparently not subject-verb agreement or spelling... (kidding)

Seriously, the thing is that you NEVER learned that in school. You used to learn it at home. But between the substantial leaps in banking technology and the overwhelming financial illiteracy of many Americans, that's not happening now. So maybe Texas has the right idea.

Wendie said...

I think someone explained this already, but you can deposit money in any ATM that accepts deposits and have it go to your bank account really anywhere on earth. Your check or ATM card links you to that account. Therefore, it doesn't matter if they bank at Bank of Ohio or Bank of Guam. And basically any ATM will allow you to get $100 back of the money you just deposited. So if you deposit a $100 check or a $400 check, you're still able to immediately take $100 back out and at some financials, their limits are even higher (enabling you to take even more money right back out)
So these people actually weren't totally stupid at all :o)