Friday, February 20, 2009

E-L-E-C-T-R-O-N-I-C means no people are involved

I started to leave a comment on the Washmovia rant below but then realized that my comment was a giant whining rant all of its own, and I felt bad leaving that on someone else's whine. So here I am writing my own.

Why is it that when you use the online portion of your banking service, any transaction you set up today will not actually happen until the next business day?  Let's say you go in on the Friday before Memorial Day to pay a bill, and you set up the payment on Friday. It won't actually pay out of your account till Tuesday. EVEN THOUGH THIS IS ELECTRONIC BANKING.  It's not like there are tiny little people inside the computer who have to hand-write the little checks and sign them with their poor bleeding little itty bitty overworked fingers before mailing them out.  It's an electronic transfer of money.  No humans are involved. 

Computers don't sleep.  They could just as easily send the money out the minute I authorize the transfer. But they don't. They wait for the weekend to be over, as if the computers have gone camping or something to take advantage of the long weekend and can't possibly be reasonably expected to work while hiking. And so then my credit card payment, which I set up as an "instant" electronic transfer FOUR days before it was due, is LATE arriving.

Meanwhile, if I go to the American Express website to pay the bill there instead of through my electronic banking, they can process the payment immediately. Which tells me such a thing is electronically possibly. It's just the lazy-ass bank computers and their "we need our days of rest just like anyone else" that can't manage this task.  Unfortunately, I can't remember all 2,458 passwords  I have set up for all the different online credit card payment sites. (And of course, as a safety precaution, I'm too anal to use the SAME password for all those accounts.) So I can't pay the Amex bill online through Amex.

Maybe I should move to Canada.  My Canadian friend tells me that online banking there is rational and reasonable.  It is with shock and awe that American banks may realize that it is indeed possible for electronic payments to be made the moment they are authorized, without the charade of little tiny humans who need their rest living inside those hot stuffy servers. In Canada, you can post a payment, and it will go out the same day.  That might indeed be reason enough to emigrate.

Of course, then I'd have to live without Target.

Which might be a deal-breaker.

Who does all the bill-paying in her house


TMCPhoto said...

We would love to have you up here!

If a Targetless universe is a deal breaker; we have Zellers which was bought out by the charming people at Target a few years ago. If you move to the Vancouver area you can also cross the border to do your Target shopping.

Further incentive is our so far still running health care system.

Jodi said...

It's all about the money. If your bank transfers that money on Friday, they lose several days of interest. AmEx processes immediately because they want that money.

Totally a PITA.

Jeanne Estridge said...

Sorry to be so geeky, but in the olden days (when I first started programming), processing was designed to happen in batches. As online systems evolved, most places went to a schedule where online stuff took place during the day and batch stuff at night. Newer systems are designed to be much more transactional, without the need for massive, overnight processing. Unfortunately, places like banks tend to be the slowest to convert to new ways of doing things (except for hedge funds -- they were all over those puppies) so they still have big old honking mainframe computers that grind through tens or even hundreds of thousands of transactions at night.

To Jodi's point, there's no return on investment for changing, because it works just fine for them the way it is.

MommyTime said...

Jeanne, I LOVE that I can come here to whine and end up learning something too. What you say makes perfect sense. Doesn't make it any less annoying, of course, but does explain things. :)

Jodi, I never thought about the interest issue, which of course adds more disincentive for changing.

TMCPhoto, you are lovely, and Vancouver would be a dream come true. Except for the part about not having a job up there...

Sarah said...

I completely agree with how annoying that is! It is even more annoying when I'm making a payment from Banking A checking account to Banking A credit card. It's the same freakin' company and yet it takes a WEEK for the money to be taken out of my checking account. WTH

rachel... said...

This is why I don't pay online. I have just finally mastered the art of postmarking-the-bill-the-day before-the-due-date-to-avoid-a-late-fee.

Anonymous said...

i hate banks

Anonymous said...

I just LOVE this rant! And I hate Citibank!!

blognut said...

Sorry. I'd explain all of the timing stuff to you, but I'm afraid of you right now. Call me when you're less angry.

The Banker

MommyTime said...

Blognut, you crack me up! I'm the least scary person you've never met. Honest.