I’m not really sure what to think about my bank.
Well, no, that’s not quite true. I know exactly what to think about the institution that claims to be the responsible steward of my money. There are good, intelligent people working there, some of whom I enjoy visiting with whenever I end up going inside, but banks as institutions are Jurassically stupid things whose main institutional achievement is their ability to survive in spite of themselves for extended periods of time.
If you’re looking for an institution that can single-handedly provide all the ammunition you need against the virtues of the free market, the supposed wisdom of modern management techniques, the value of an MBA, the entire theory of Social Darwinism, and the notion that the accumulation of capital is a sign of God’s favor, you have to look no further than the nearest bank.
And if you do look, chances are that you will see that bank doing something catastrophically stupid right now. Even as you read this! Go ahead and check. I’ll wait.
See? Told you so.
We’ve done our banking at the same physical location since before Kim and I were married. When she moved to Our Little Town nearly two decades ago, Kim opened up her accounts in what was then Your Friendly Neighborhood Bank. They were local, and thus relatively protected from Jurassic Bank Stupidity, which tends to get worse as institutional size gets larger.
Unfortunately, YFNB was bought out fairly shortly after that by Big State Bank. They kept most of the same people, so when I moved up here we kept our accounts with them. You could see the symptoms of JBS getting worse over time, though.
My most memorable experience with JBS was when I tried to pay off the overdraft protection that I had incurred one month. They had this very nice set-up where if you exceeded your checking account balance, they would put money into it to cover the check, up to whatever limit you were willing to sign up for. They started charging interest from the moment of deposit, which is how they made their money, but it was a nice service anyway. You got a bill at the end of the month and you sent a check to the main office in the big city.
One time it didn’t work.
After much investigation, it turned out that Big State Bank had received my check, but had decided that my goal in writing it was not to pay off any outstanding overdraft loan. Instead, I was informed, my goal had clearly been to write a check, put it into an envelope, affix first-class postage and send it off to another city so that the money could be withdrawn from my checking account and deposited back into that same account.
This I found puzzling.
The years flew by, however, and with only the occasional outbreak of JBS symptoms we remained relatively happy with Big State Bank.
Then they got bought by International Banking Conglomerate.
It was bad enough when IBC decided to donate vast sums of money to Governor Teabagger during the Great Subversion last year – we began to investigate alternate places for our money at that point, but events and life intervened and we never did get around to doing anything about it. We may do so now that IBC has begun officially wiping all traces of our old bank away – they’re even going to change the name on the buildings, from what I hear.
I could handle that part.
But a few days ago I got a letter containing a flash drive. A blank one.
There was an accompanying letter explaining that IBC was going to eliminate all of Big State Bank’s online presence entirely, including all of our records that we only have access to online since they stopped sending us paper statements two years ago, but if we so desired we could download those records onto this handy flash drive for safekeeping. But not all of those records – you only get the last 45 days.
I’m not sure what happens next, other than the search for a new home for our money beginning in earnest. Perhaps that’s their goal too. If so, they have succeeded.