Bank bashing is a favourite national pastime, and with good reason. It’s been a much-gnawed bone of contention that we have to go to a bank and stand in a line to deposit a cheque, and then we have to wait for three days to have it “cleared” before the money can be drawn on.
This week I went to a neighbouring suburb to deposit a cheque (the branch in my suburb was closed not long ago), and it was a novel experience. Not only had the designers and carpenters been in and the place was unrecognisable from my previous visit, they now have a special machine for deposits. No doubt another step in the Commonwealth Bank’s purge of real human beings. I’m sure their eventual plan is to dispense with tiresome employees altogether.
This day, there were several people standing around eager to show mugs like me how to use the new machines. I’m not sure they saw the irony in that. Step by step: I put my card in the slot, enter PIN, select deposit, cheque or cash? Insert cheque in slot, correct way round please, then confirm the amount. It spat out a receipt, which included a cute little facsimile of my cheque. A pity it’s on that heat-sensitive paper you get with all bank transactions, which fades to white within a few months. (Why do they use that stuff? Do they want to erase the evidence or something?) “Did you have a satisfactory experience?” a staff member parroted as I was leaving. I wanted to ask her if it was satisfying to know that she was helping me use a machine that would eventually do her out of her job.
Oh, and the cheque would still take three days to clear.