One of the things I do for a crust is work in a bottle shop (aka liquor store, off-license, grog shop... I sell alcoholic beverages retail). There will almost certainly be later posts that deal with all the craptastic bullshit up with which you must put if you are to do such a job (imagine spending hours on end dealing with the public, surrounded by piss you aren't allowed to drink) but this particular rant is about banks and a certain impact they have.
See, I don't like banks very much for several reasons, most of which I won't go into right now. My major concern currently is the EFTPOS machine. Specifically, the new one they have installed in the bottle-o. (I never have worked out how to spell that particular contraction.)
Now, up until about a week ago we had this EFTPOS machine that seemed to belong to the early '90's. The card reader/input device and printer were separate entities, and the printer was some form of dot-matrix abomination that constantly needed new ribbons. And the device always took an age to process a transaction.
To my delight, I arrived at work one day to discover that the bank had given us a bright, shiny new EFTPOS device - all one unit, no separate printer, no juddering dot-matrix-ribbon-chewing monstrosity. It looked all elegant and space-agey, or something. It was quiet. It was smooth. It was Modern.
And it sucks. It sucks like just before the event horizon. It needs paper reloads about every 15 minutes. It prints out the merchant copy of the transaction record and then waits for a minute before printing out the customer's copy, which is utterly fantastic when you have 16 customers lined up waiting to pay on plastic, and you can't tell the machine to just get on with it because you know full well that Jimmy never wants a copy, so instead of 16 relatively happy customers who have to wait for a couple of minutes you have 16 increasingly annoyed customers who have to wait for longer and longer depending on where they are in the cue.
This new, brilliant, finished-in-chrome-with-ergonomic-styling-and-a-dynamic-look device takes precisely 3.2 times longer than the ancient-annoying-piece-of-shit that it replaced to do anything. This is like trading in your 1990 Commodore for a 2007 Commodore only to find that it has a top speed of 50 kph and no brakes.
But this isn't the most stupid aspect of banks that I've had to deal with in the last week or so. It isn't the thing that currently has the most of my goat. What has that honour, is the surcharge.
If someone wants to get some money out of their bank account, via the EFTPOS in my bottleshop, I have to charge them a one dollar surcharge. Because the bank is charging us a surcharge.
Let's get this a little in perspective: You go somewhere other than a bank, where they charge you money to see a teller (because they have to pay the teller, or some shit) to get money out. I, standing behind a counter, act as a bank teller (so the bank doesn't have to pay a teller. I'm doing their job, and not getting paid by the bank) and process your transaction, to the same degree as any modern bank teller does. I get your card, run it through the machine, the computer says yes or no, and there you go.
So... I'm doing the banks' work, and they are charging us. Not only that, but I have to explain to all our customers (who, because we are not a major multi-billion-dollar company, are generally just a bunch of middle-to-low income regular people) that in order to get twenty bucks (of their money) out of the bank so they can buy a pizza or two, it will cost them money.
If you put money in a bank, you are lending that bank money. They pay you a small percentage per annum. If you borrow money from a bank, they charge you ten times as much per annum. And somehow they have come up with a way to not only charge you money to take money out, but to charge me (or the pub I work for) for doing their work for them.
God, I wish I was a bank. I'd be the biggest Banker there ever was.
I have a cold.. some b's should be w's