Readers Respond & Debate
It's interesting that things have come full circle (as always) in banking. I helped introduce ATM cards in Chicago through First Chicago what, now, nearly 20 years ago? First Chicago had found through research that people were a lot more careful with their money than tellers and that errors went down when people did their own deposits (and ATMs were far more accurate in counting out withdrawals). The need for labor also went down, and I'm sure that, too, was an incentive. I personally didn't "get" the need for ATMs then; but I didn't "get" the need for the Sears Discover Card, either, and both were wildly successful (as were my promotions for same). I don't have a Discover card, but I confess I can't live without an ATM card, which makes cashless living nearly possible. Then I spent a lot of time and effort in the late '90s helping Wells Fargo "transition" (i.e., train) as many customers as possible to STOP using brick and mortar banking in favor of using ATMs. Wells did some pretty draconian things, including trying to charge people for face-time. Maybe they still do, I don't know. The stuff I did mainly revolved around giving depositors a $25 reward if they'd use their ATM cards 3x in a month or something. Can't remember all the details. Again, their research indicated that about 45% of their depositors simply did not want to use ATMs -- they were stuck on face-time, brick-and-mortar banking, much to Wells's disgust. Wells was a great client to work for in terms of money and getting paid on time, but I had a hard time respecting a business that was completely, utterly contemptuous of the 45% who didn't bank online. Wells really (and they were completely open about this in meetings) hated consumer banking because that pesky 45% cut into their profit. Wells is still a place where I will not bank (but of course would be happy to do more DM for them and should go look them up again, except I'm too darned busy). All of this is to say that certain banks, finally, seem to have realized that those 45% will (like you) be darned loyal if offered a cup of coffee and a bit less confusion. Tour guides and latte -- vive la banking 1900's ala 21st Century! And we continue to reinvent the wheel... or the banker... P.S. I'm a local banking person and an Ever-Banker, too, mainly because I buy Euros and you can open a world currency account there with as little as $5k, then deposit as much extra as you want. As long as our national balance sheet keeps careening south and looking more and more like that of Argentina or Mexico, there's a place for the EverBank's of the world. I've actually found them easy to deal with.