Thursday, June 14, 2007

Models of Efficiency

The DMV is not what most people would consider to be an efficient organization, and tales of long lines abound. Never the less, my experience at the DMV today leads me to conclude the following efficiency ranking:

1) First Internet Bank of Indiana
2) DMV
3) Bank of America

When Elaine and I added her to my checking account at First IB, it took five minutes of paperwork and a 41 cent stamp.

When I went to the DMV in order to transfer the title of Elaine's car from her parents to us, it took five minutes of paperwork, and eighteen minutes in line.

When Elaine and I went to BofA to add me to her checking account, it took fifty minutes of waiting in line, five minutes of talking to a "banking specialist"*, then the five minutes of paperwork, then five more minutes of talking to the banking specialist, and ultimately resulted in us leaving without accomplishing our goals. The story follows.

We walked into the bank on Tuesday, and after learning that we couldn't alter accounts by talking to a teller, we sat down in the plush chairs to wait for the single banking specialist at work that day. They had a giant open building and a small basket of lollipops in a manner reminiscent of visits to the doctor's. We were shortly greeted by a greeter, who's job it was to take down our name and our reason for wanting to speak with the banking specialist. During the momentary break between clients, she would approach the specialist and tell her why the next people were there. This was an important job, as by the time clients were allowed to see her, they had generally forgotten why they had visited Bank of America that day, and often why they had an account with Bank of America at all.
After waiting for what not only seemed back was actually measured to be upwards of fifty minutes, our turn arrived. Once we had sat in front of the banking specialist, she explained ... very ... slowly ... that I would need not only one, but *gasp* two forms of ID, and that I would need to know my social security number. Since a major credit card apparently counts as a second form of identification these days, we were apparently over prepared with my passport. After another period of waiting, the woman produced a form for us to sign, that they might have our signatures on file. More questions, offers of new services, and painfully slow explanations later, we arrived at a problem. Elaine's mother was already a joint account holder. Did we want to open a new account?
"No." After an hour of waiting, after long discussions of the lack of necessity for brick and mortar banks, and after plans to imminently close the account Elaine had, we didn't want another.
"Are you sure you want him on your account? Then either one of you could just take all the money."
"So either one of the joint account holders can just close the account?"
"And could we do this just be talking to a teller?"
"Thank you. Bye."

At this point, it felt like we'd found kryptonite. If we can simply close the account, and open another one at a better bank, we have no intention of going through the hassle of getting all the necessary signatures and spell components in order to change the names on the account. At the same time, we still need the account for the time being, since Elaine has direst deposit set up with them; but the clock is ticking.

* I decided to only put quotes around banking specialist at its first appearance. The quotes are intended to express my skepticism at the legitimacy of such a term, especially as used in this context.