clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

WAVE OF THE FUTURE? TALKING TO REAL PEOPLE WILL COST YOU

Remember when banks used to give you plastic rain bonnets and ballpoint pens for your business? The First Chicago, the 10th-largest bank in the United States, has decided to charge some customers $3 to do banking with a real, live teller.

Is that a crock? We don't want to dance with them. We only want to make a deposit.First Chicago's president, Leo Mullin, is quoted as saying, "This is the wave of the future." The bank is also charging customers $2 to get personal help by phone.

Somehow I don't see a robber going up to the teller and saying, "This is a holdup," and having her reply, "It'll cost you."

What has happened to the world today? Has greed totally taken over? The humanness of the phone company used to be a big thing. Now it charges me to look up a number; if I stay on the line, it will charge me another 50 cents to dial it for me. What's next? When we dial 911, will we get a couple of bucks added to our phone bill?

A few years ago, some doctors felt they were getting a lot of nuisance phone calls, especially from anxious mothers with new babies. They decided to charge for each call.

A friend of mine was contacted by her pediatrician's nurse one day saying they had not received payment. My friend said, "It's in the mail - and by the way, I'm busy and I'm deducting $2 for this call."

Actually, there are some humans I'd pay $2 to talk with. In fact, I'd write a blank check to have a conversation with the person who handles my insurance claims. I've talked to her voice mail, her beeper and the recording on her answering machine, but I've never had the privilege of speaking with her personally. She's probably expensive.

When I am standing in a fitting room in front of fun-house mirrors and need the next size, I'd pay 2 bucks to have a salesperson get it for me and pass it through the door. Who am I kidding? I'd pay more than that to find a salesperson to ring up my purchase.

But I never expected this from banks - those bastions of decorum and service. I never expected them to charge me for every check I write, for having a balance too low, or for giving them my money, which they loan out and make a bundle off of.

I'll bring my own pen to the bank and buy my own checks with a picture of the Grand Canyon on them. But when they charge me for valet parking for the drive-in window, my money goes under the mattress.