So Much for Electronic Banking

Electronic banking was supposed to make paying bills easier and faster.

Easier, yes, but faster?  Maybe not so much, or at least not so much anymore.

The Curmudgeon received a call last week from TD Bank, his regular bank as well as the issuer of his sole credit card.  The bank was calling because his credit card payment was four days late.

This struck The Curmudgeon as highly unlikely.  Because his “interest checking” account pays interest of 0.0005 percent (hold on a second:  one, two, three zeroes, that’s right, 0.0005 percent), it doesn’t pay to hold onto bills until right before they’re due, so on whatever night each week The Curmudgeon pays his bills – usually, Monday night – he pays every bill that’s arrived since the last time he paid his bills.

“Wait a second,” The Curmudgeon said, leafing through his checkbook register.  “I paid that bill three days before it was due.”

Not good enough, TD guy informed him.  TD Bank electronic payments, which used to take two or three days, now take at least six days.  At least six days.

Why the change, The Curmudgeon asked.

“We switched to a company that’s considered the best in the business and this is the new standard.”

Well who wouldn’t be much better at their job if someone gave them twice as long to do it?

So let’s compare the mail and electronic bill-paying.

If you write a check, you can reasonably expect it to reach its destination by mail in two or three days.  (Insert wisecrack about mail service here, but you know, deep in your heart, that this is true.)

If you make your payment electronically, however, it takes at least six days.

Why?

And tell us again, banking industry we’ve all come to loathe because of what you did to our economy, how is this an improvement?  How does this make anyone’s life better?  Or is it something you’re doing because the company you now use is cheaper for you (even if it’s worse for your customers) and because you get to hold onto your customers’ cash a few days longer and collect interest on it – and a lot more than that 0.0005 percent (hold on a second:  one, two, three zeroes, that’s right, 0.0005 percent) you pay those customers?

So The Curmudgeon has ordered a new batch of checks.  The banking industry tells us it costs more for banks to process paper checks than electronic payments, so if The Curmudgeon’s bank is going to screw him, he’s going to screw it right back.

Payback can be fun.

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