My husband and I do banking with two different institutions in our relatively small community, and with one, we’ve been customers for years, through about four of their name changes, at last count.  A mathematical error recently led to a checking overdraft for us at that one. In my husband’s mind, this was a little bit like being accused of ax-murdering kittens. He doesn’t think he’d ever had an overdraft in his life.  He pleaded for mercy, to have the bank remove the quite hefty overdraft fee.  To their credit, they did so almost without hesitation.

 However, my now nervous husband wanted to get “overdraft protection”—basically a “loan” from the bank that would kick in if we ever over-drafted again.  That’s where the problems began.  The protection would be worth $500, so basically a $500 loan.  We had to fill out forms on paper. We had our credit history checked and our incomes verified.  My husband appeared in person at the bank on three different occasions to ask the questions, get the paperwork and return the paperwork. Somewhere in there they said I, too, had to appear in person.  I was away. They agreed to talk to me over the phone, but I still had to appear in person to finalize the papers, together with my husband. And we had to make an appointment to do so. This was all for $500.  I should mention here that, in the aforementioned credit check, our rating came out something like “over the top, never seen before” kind of high.   We have a home that has something like one year to go on the mortgage payments, which are so very low that you would think I was joking if I told you the amount. By my calculation, it probably costs us about $500 of our time to get this little teeny tiny loan that, in my view, shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place.  We were not the ones who crashed the economy in 2008, is what I’m saying.

Meanwhile, across town, our other bank was advertising all over the place and really promoting their new “mobile deposits” app.  If we signed up for this service, we could take photos of the many checks coming into our mailbox and, BINGO, that money would be deposited into whatever account we designated.  This sounded like wonderful news to us! Except, if you take all that I said above about the paperwork and the appearing in person, and add in technical difficulties, you’d have a fair vision of how long that whole process took.   My husband used to write for magazines about computer hardware and software.  For him, the “convenient” mobile app was something akin to putting that Mars rover up there a few years back in terms of complexity.

We succeeded at becoming mobile with our deposits and being protected in our overdrafts, but we don’t have warm, fuzzy feelings about these two financial institutions.