Thursday, December 17, 2009

Saying something nice about a bank.

Hey, Matty Boy, when was the last time you said something nice about a bank?

Well, hypothetical question asker, let me take a quick browse through the old posts... and it looks like the answer is... never.

I wrote about Wells Fargo nailing people for math mistakes. I wrote when Washington Mutual crashed and Chase took over the operation. My emotions when writing about banks wander the gamut from disgusted to worried. "Nice" is not contained in that gamut.

But yesterday, I went to my local Chase branch to find that they had upgraded the slow and buggy automated tellers that had been there since it was a WaMu branch. These auto tellers had the first significant hardware upgrade I've seen in these machines since they first showed up around 30 years ago.

My automated teller now has an automated check reader. Of course, people are going to have to get used to it and figure out that they have to put the checks in the right way, face up and aligned in the right direction. Also, it remains to be seen how good the hardware is at reading handwritten checks and if it's going to be as reliable as an old VW Bug or as temperamental as an old Fiat. But the short learning curve for humans and the as of yet unknown problems of the machines are tiny price to pay compared to the upside.

Advantage #1: No unnecessary envelopes, so less paper wasted.

Advantage #2: No possibility of transcription errors when writing down the check value or math errors if adding together the amounts on multiple checks deposited at the same time. The machine tells you the total it read and gives you a chance to say whether it was right or not. If there's a screw-up, you can do the transaction inside with a human teller, but you don't have to worry about your own errors or errors by the bank employees who would read the checks later. (Most likely, the bank employees had access to automated check readers themselves for some time now.)

Advantage #3: Immediate feedback. Occasionally, my bank would send me a note that I screwed up a transcription or addition when depositing a check at an automated teller. If these machines are reliable, that should be a thing of the past, which means once again, less paper wasted.

So, let me conclude by saying thanks to Chase Bank for installing these helpful little objects. I hope that they turn out to be as reliable as automated tellers have been in general. As I said before, except for some cosmetic upgrades to the screens, this is the first major advancement in this omnipresent technology in about thirty years.


ken said...

BofA has had something similar for a couple of years now. They seem to work pretty well.

sfmike said...

In truth, those fuckheads at Wells Fargo pioneered this with their ATMs some years ago, and it's pretty awesome.

Distributorcap said...

your TARP money at work

dguzman said...

DCap's probably right, but I first encountered this technology at my local Chase branch near my parents' house (I'm a relatively new Chaser), and I came home and told my parents all about it, even showing them the photo-capture of the check on my receipt! It was like I'd just come home from the one-room schoolhouse and seen one of them new-fangled steam automobiles and had to tell my whole family about it.

Matty Boy said...

I had a chance to use the technology with a handwritten check this week, and it worked just as slick as you please. I'm definitely impressed.