Allright. There it is. The first official rant on this blog. Don’t worry, I will keep it professional.
I have to admit that my family and I are sailing through not too horrible waters during this economic crisis. First of all, I have a rather nice income and a nice job security. And besides that, even if everything tumbles down I know that even now there are a million-and-one ways to earn money, especially here in the US. And I honestly believe there are ways to get through these times. The thing I am more afraid of of not surviving for such a long time is dealing with banks here. Now, I come orignally from Europe, from the Netherlands to be exact. I have seen my share of power- and money-hungry behavior from banks and with my back then limited grasp on reality and an unlimited amount of naivity I got into debt probably by the age I got 17. But as with many, you are not talking about ‘debt’, you are talking about money that is yours that can get you stuff. And I have in my life over there paid more interest than I ever had money into my accounts, reaching an all-time high (or low) with the failure of my first company. I have had locked accounts, bounced checks by the packs, and more ‘I will never do it again’ talks with my account manager then whatever. But I was never prepared for what I would experience here in the US.
To be honest, I cannot understand why people still agree with how banks operate here in the US. For everyone here in the States, I would like to invite you to go to a site of a bank in europe and just read the terms and conditions there that come with having an account.
First of all, over there, if your account goes below zero, by default your payments will get through. No bounced checks, no incufficient funds fees. Hey, they know you don’t have money, so it is of no use of asking more money for not having any. They just charge you an interest rate for the time you are below zero. No sudden jumps in your interest rates like here on credit cards. Nothing like that. And once you are above zero, everything is back to normal.
Second, there is this movement from money. Not only from one bank to another, but even from one account to another with the same bank. Now, I know the talk that they have here; first day your bank checks you account, second day they move the money, third day it arrives at the recieving bank and fourth day it is booked into the account and the fifth day it is available. WTF?! Now, US citizens, WAKE UP! If that is so, why does it take in Europe about 1 hour to 1 day to process this all? And nothing like pending payments, it is checked immediately and transferred immediately. Simple as that.
Third is the security. When I go to my bank site, it tells me simply to fill out a username and password, and I am in the online banking. Sounds good? For anyone knowing the technology behind internet and web communication a little bit, you would know that there are a hundred ways to get your username and password. The easiest onest are simply installing a key-logger on your computer through malicious software that gets installed when you surf to one site or another, and they do not even have to be seedy sites. Most people do not have adequate securities set up on any of the computers they use. Then there is even the thing that there is that people always have easy passwords to guess. Birthdates, the names of pets or children, etc. etc. One bank that I went to in New Jersey shortly after I arrived in the country was even making it worse; to sign up for their online system I would have to print a document, write my username and password in it, send it and they would set it up?! Wow. In the Netherlands you have encrypters, little gadgets that you recieve when opening your account. The one I worked with would translate a code you would recieve from your website constantly into another code you had to provide. Sure, it was a bit more work, but at least it was a lot safer, especially with your eye on identity theft etc.
Then there is my last rant for right now about the banks that I tipped in the line before; the constant harassing of banks asking you (demanding?) to have a identity-theft insurance for an $x amount per $100 in your account or credit card. WTF!?!?!?! I have to pay my bank for a service that they should deliver me in the first place?! Because, all in all, what they are telling you is: “Ehm, sir, thank you for giving us your money to safeguard, but, ehm, we actually have no clue how to do that. Your information is not safe, not even in our vault. People can just come in and hijack your account. Nothing we can do about that. We are a bank, not a safehouse or something. So. Well. You need to be insured. Well, insured against our malpractice. And what is good, is that you can insure yourself through us.”. Doesn’t this sound like the Mafia to you? At least the Mafia takes care of their people.
This should be the country where everything is happening, where development should be ahead of the curve. Please, take a look at ‘the old country’ for one of the few things that they handle a lot better, your money. I love this country, I love to be here, but come-on, the joke is over, don’t you think?