was reading an article the other day that was going over the latest
and greatest fees being considered… tested… evaluated… debated…
by different banks. And in that article, I saw a very discouraging
thought. I’ll paraphrase it here… and not even link to it… because
it’s actually general enough even in this simple context that
I think we can all appreciate it.
going to repeat it. It’s so simple a thought that I think we can
all agree with it. And yet, in a way I’m going to disagree… which
is what inspired me to write this essay. So let’s look at it one
are all sorts of places and directions we could head off to from
here. But the reality of the situation is two-fold… even though
you may not perfectly agree with me on fold number two.
of all is that business concept. Let’s face the facts… even with
low interest rates (or no interest these days), a bank does not
keep its doors open solely by acting as a safe storage place for
your money. Paying the staff… running the ATMs… the costs of buying
the pens on the chains… there are operational costs. And if the
only idea was to provide an account for you while earning no money
from other sources… you understand, the doors would close.
I said… it’s a simple idea.
then we get to the other side of the fold.
a second thought, I would argue that a bank is kind of a community
service business. (Not service industry… service business.) Banks…
the post office… and maybe I’m not expressing the idea correctly,
but my main thrust are places we take for granted that: (1) need
to operate on a different business model, and (2) provide us with
certain services we couldn’t provide for ourselves.
instance, if you would like to try and deliver a birthday card
to Australia from the United States, on your own for $1.05… I
wish you luck.
hope you see my point. These places operate differently.
problem is that a service business isn’t widely regarded by us
as something that needs to generate a profit. And that creates
a lack of perceived value for all of us.
when I was growing up, people went out to run their errands. And
personal experiences were so common between all of us that there
was pretty much a mailbox on the curb outside every bank. (You
also could find a phone booth with ease.)
wasn’t that the bank or post office was a business you did business
with… but rather, as easily exemplified by just noting the way
we pay our bills, it was the business that assisted you in completing
your business with others.
yes… I see the current state of the industry. (So to speak.) Bills
are paid on the internet… the postal service is in financial ruins…
and I don’t believe I’ve seen a payphone in years.
thing is… I’m guessing I’m not alone. Of course I want my bank
to be functional and stable. Good business for them is good news
for me. That said, there is a certain expectation of service that
goes along with it. And those expectations are vastly different
than the ones I have for a hardware store, a restaurant, or any
other place I might find in the yellow pages.
those expectations are misguided though. Perhaps the “adapt or
go out of business” approach to changing times hits these service
businesses the same way it can hit any business. Perhaps I’ve
just been around long enough that the dinosaur-like feeling I
have about changes around me is nostalgia-based. Perhaps I’m just