July 15, 2005

Banks for your memories

I went to the bank after work today to make a deposit, put my checks in the envelope, flipped it over to fill in the amount of the deposit on the back -- and there was a big red X there. It's no longer necessary for you to fill in the deposit amount! it proclaimed, as if I would be excited to hear this.

This doesn't seem like an especially savvy way of improving ATM efficiency. It's true that the pens in ATM vestibules often don't work, but if I haven't endorsed my checks yet, not having to fill in a tiny form on the back of an envelope doesn't make a difference in my pen-having needs. But that's only one issue, and not one that came up today -- I had already signed both of my checks. Instead, I had the problem of remembering what my total deposit was. The two amounts were simple enough to add up in my head, so I didn't have to write them down to do the math. And I didn't write it on the back of the envelope either, so dissuaded was I by the BIG RED X telling me to keep away. It wasn't until the ATM asked me how much my deposit was that I thought, oh, crap, how much was it again?

Not brilliant product design. I'd be curious to see how many people end up writing on the envelopes anyway.

Posted by Francis at 01:42 AM

Why didn't you draw tiny cartoons in that space?

And who will buy me Holy Tango for my birthday? I've loaded up my Amazon wish list, and now I can only wait. Must I really spend my own money on things I want??

Posted by: Orange at July 15, 2005 02:38 PM

You'r not entirely required to endorse your checks, either, so it could be a completely pen free transaction. The bank will quite happily deposit an unendorsed check, so long as the account holder on the other end doesn't raise a fuss, and I've never heard of it happen.

Posted by: Ben Brockert at July 15, 2005 06:04 PM

O my lord. I had the same problem, with remembering how much I deposited... but I was too embarassed to complain about it to anyone. But now that I have the green light from heanyland... let the complaints begin

Posted by: Mary at July 16, 2005 09:10 AM

Out here in California, we don't have pens at our ATMs, unless we bring them, we don't have spaces on the backs of the envelopes to write in the amounts, and we don't have big red X's telling us NOT to write in the amounts. So, I can't really relate!

But...as for forgetting the amount between sealing the envelope and having to press the keys on the number pad? I've been known to do that. (Oh, and I have a phone number like this: ABC-ABC3, and I get an unusually large number of calls for other numbers, and I finally figured out why. The person really wanted ABC-3DEF, but dialed ABC, FORGOT they had dialed it, dialed it again, then finished up with 3DEF, thus getting - ME. Wow, I don't feel so bad about forgetting my ATM deposit amounts now!)

About which, what I always do is, I start the transaction, and get to the point where I have to punch in the amount, BEFORE I do anything else. Then if I've forgotten the amount, I peek inside the envelope (which I never seal - do you seal your envelopes?) and then punch in the amount, and then when the little mechanical slot opens, I put the envelope in.

But I'm weird in probably three regards (limiting myself specifically to ATM deposits, so that's a lot!)

1. I never seal my envelope because I figure the person on the other end doesn't want to go to the trouble to open it

2. I pay careful attention to the graphic on the envelope-feeding slot and make sure I orient my envelope exactly as shown. I've often wondered whether that graphic is, in fact, meant to tell you how to orient the envelope, or whether they basically don't give a crap. But for me, if I were the person-on-the-other-end-removing-envelopes, I would appreciate it if *most* of them were facing the same way. (But then again, branching out of ATM-deposit-weirdness, I also have a compulsion to have all my paper money in my billfold organized. Since I was 12 years old, my system has been: fronts facing, sorted by amount, smallest in front to largest in back).

3. I never deposit two checks at once. I want a separate entry for every deposit. Unless of course I'm running a treasure hunt at $25 per person and I have 30 or 40 checks, then I take photos of the checks, but make one big deposit of a single amount.

OK, enough of this silliness!

Posted by: Serendipity at July 17, 2005 01:09 AM

How many people still write on the envelopes? I can give you a personal count: At least one. Me.

I saw info-free envelopes for the first time this week, although there was no big red X to dissuade me. I wrote the number for two reasons: One, as you observed, it helped me remember the total deposit amount. And two, well, I don't trust the bank. I once asked an ATM for $60 and it gave me $40, and I had to call Fleet (now Bank of America) twice to get it sorted out. Seriously, if an ATM can't get that transaction right, how am I supposed to expect it to properly handle an unmarked envelope full of cash?

Posted by: jason at July 18, 2005 07:13 PM