Dollars & sense

Direct deposit and I have an up and down relationship. 

You’ll never hear me complain when money mysteriously drops into my checking account. Yet, banks often assess penalties to those whose checks are not deposited through cyberspace. 

According to my one-time bank, I’d incur a $5 to $12 fee per month if I wasn’t on board with direct deposit. NF—No Fair. I have no control over how companies choose to pay me. 

If my account history shows a consistent weekly or biweekly deposit, why does it matter how the money gets there?

A great many small businesses continue to issue paychecks. For those who have never seen a tangible paycheck, it is a narrow, rectangular, paper document that makes recipients very, very happy.

Deposit transactions are the main reason I visit my bank. One would think bank employees might look forward to seeing me. 

OK. Maybe they don’t get too excited about me, but they may enjoy opportunities to chat it up with various customers. 

I walk into the bank or pull into a drive-thru. I smile. I laugh. I take a moment to share information about the weather or the community or the world around us.

Direct deposit is a no-hassle way of putting money into one’s account—a good thing. It can ward off bank fees—a second good thing. 

But direct deposit is a social interaction debit.

I’m glad no one had thought up direct deposit when I was a bank teller in summers past. Now that I think of it, personal computers at that time were but a hope, and only James Bond owned a cell phone.

But I digress.

I wasn’t just a bank teller. I was a social bank teller. Maybe more social than the bank president would have preferred, but my customers seemed to enjoy the friendly banter.

My friend Claudia is a real live modern banker. She’s focused. She’s organized. She is good at her job.

Still, Claudia finds time to listen to her customers. Listening results in trust—the deciding factor when choosing and staying with a bank. 

I’m not a betting girl, but if I were, I’d bet that many direct deposit customers at Claudia’s bank find other reasons to drop in—just to catch up with her.

I’d also bet that her case is rare—rare because we are all about saving time. Most people are not going to go to the bank or the post office or the DMV unless it’s an absolute must.

OK. I apologize to my banking and post office friends. The DMV is in its own, lonely, class. 

Direct deposit is a time-saver. It frees payroll clerks from writing and cutting individual checks. It keeps individuals from having to make weekly and bi-weekly trips to the bank. 

Still, eliminating the in-person bank experience might mean you are missing out. Just ask my friend Sarah. I did.

We had been talking about dogs, not banks or deposits or money. 

“How did you meet your husband?” I asked.

“I used to work at a bank,” said Sarah. “Noah worked for a company that did not have direct deposit, so he came in once a week to deposit his paycheck.”

Eight months after Noah’s first deposit via Sarah, the two eloped—as in jumped the broom, busted a glass, got married. Both the bank employee and her customer earned big dividends thanks to social interaction at what must have been the most romantic of banks.

I shudder to think of what would have happened—or not—had Noah’s company utilized direct deposit.

I am now the beneficiary of direct deposit,  but I stop into my bank now and then to say, “Hello.” There’s no need to look for a guy. I have a Gary.

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