Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Strange requirements at the Soulless Megabank

There's a branch of the Soulless Megabank right by my Undisclosed Location. This isn't saying much. Prior to last year's financial collapse Soulless Megabank took over a Dutch bank named for a French explorer; that got them all sorts of Chicago locations. After the financial collapse Soulless Megabank absorbed several more troubled institutions, to the point where the typical Loop streetscape started to look like this: Soulless Megabank, Starbucks, Soulless Megabank, Starbucks, Soulless Megabank....

Consolidations and layoffs followed.

But, anyway, this particular branch survived. And it was to this particular branch that I repaired late yesterday afternoon, there to deposit Youngest Son's Christmas money into his savings account. (His account wasn't at Soulless Megabank initially. It wasn't started with the Dutch bank either. I've lost track of the number of passbooks Youngest Son had as one bank gobbled up another. But with Soulless Megabank, of course, we have improvements: No more passbooks to worry about! Thus, the kid doesn't see his savings grow in his own passbook, thereby losing what little incentive he had to put money aside.)

I'm not really sure how Long Suffering Spouse browbeat him into parting with this money, but mine is not to reason why, mine was but to fill out the deposit ticket and stand in line.

When I got to the window, the nice lady teller had a question: "Is this your account?"

Now, the account is in the name of Long Suffering Spouse as guardian of Youngest Son, a Minor. I don't look particularly female, especially late in the afternoon as my Nixonian shadow grows, and I doubt she had me had mistaken me for a minor. But I did not give the young lady a hard time. Instead I answered truthfully, "No, this is my son's account."

"In that case," she said, "I'll need to see some ID."

"Pardon me?" I asked. I could certainly understand a certain wariness, even a polite refusal, were I trying to take money out of the boy's account. But I was putting money in.

"It's a new policy," she told me, with some embarrassment. "We have to have an ID if you're trying to deposit money into someone else's account." I therefore surrendered my driver's license and the nice lady teller made some cryptic notations on the deposit ticket.

Obviously, I thought, watching this bizarre scene, the job of Soulless Megabank's Vice President in Charge of Dreaming Up Really Annoying Ways to Alienate Customers was spared in the most recent round of layoffs, although maybe the position was consolidated with that of the Vice President in Charge of Inventing Pointless Ways of Wasting Employees' Time. I can't help but think that one or both of these positions were saved with taxpayer bailout money. I know that makes me proud. How about you?

But then -- on reflection -- it occurred to me that this strange new policy may not have been entirely the fault of Soulless Megabank. Just possibly, I thought, the government has become concerned that Osama bin Laden may try and launder Al-Qaeda funds by depositing them in my son's bank account.

Let me take this opportunity to assure the government that, should Mr. bin Laden try this sort of nefarious deed, he will fail. At least in part.

Mr. bin Laden may deposit all the ill-gotten millions he wants in my kid's account -- so in that sense, I guess, he'd succeed in laundering his money. But he won't get the money back. The government has my solemn assurance that we will speedily withdraw such funds and put them to work reviving our economy. At least just as soon as we pay off our longstanding obligations to Messrs. MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.

I wonder if the Department of Homeland Security has a Deputy Assistant Undersecretary in Charge of Coming Up With Silly Ideas for Banks. He or she probably has lunch every week with the Deputy Assistant Undersecretary Who Chooses the Color Scheme for Terror Alerts.

So I'm wondering: Who do I blame this latest strange requirement on? Soulless Megabank alone? Or some ill-considered government policy?


Fran said...

I, personally, am sick and tired of all of this and the privacy requirements that have been implemented. When my husband can't even call and ask for assistance in getting our new remote set up for the replacement cable box because I called and ordered our cable when we moved here three years ago.

Yeah, I understand the need for some of this, but sometimes it seems a little bit too much.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

we have been with the same bank since 1981 but it has had so many names i can't begin to remember them all. i hate it when i order computer checks (that's all sarge will use, don't ask!) and the bank changes names the next week.

smiles, bee

susan said...

It took us over an hour yesterday to add my name to the bank account that my husband had to set up because although the name of the institution we trust with our paycheck would lead you to believe it is nation-wide, it turns out that they didn't invest in any inter-state systems. Thus, the PA account can't simply be updated to reflect the CA address, etc.

Also, I think there must be an Under-Secretary of Coming Up with Gimmicks to Make People Take Home Things They Have No Use For Simply Because We've Labeled It "Free". Who knew that the proverbial free toaster with account would turn into the offer of no less than 7 new accounts, each with no fewer than 35 choices of cards which can be customized so that they precisely reflect the hue of your cheeks (whichever set you prefer, of course). Bah. It's enough to make me want to pull the mason jar back out from under the bed.