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Telling off the automatic teller

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You people are revolting! Revolting against America's banking establishment, that is. As you know, our friendly bankers have been trying to shove us small depositors out of their institutions, insisting that we bank at their ATM machines, rather than expecting to have branch banks located in ourcommunities and to have the branches staffed by actual human beings. It's conventional banker wisdom that ATMs are the essence of efficiency, and that we customers just have to get used to our high-tech future. Wells Fargo banks, for example, have even installed greeters at the doors of their branches, not to welcome customers, but to ask them to use the ATM instead of bothering the tellers. They refer to this as "migrating the customers' transactions," and these greeters are called: "Migreeters." I am not making this up! Problem is, we customers are not cooperating. We keep insisting on seeing real people to handle our transactions. Indeed, a recent poll finds three-fourths of us preferring to bank at fully-staffed branches, rather than at machines, and two-thirds of us refuse to use machinery at all for certain bank business -- especially making deposits. As one customer told The Wall Street Journal, "What proof do I have that I actually deposited the money `at the ATM`? I just like knowing there's a real person who is making note of the transaction." The result of such customer rebellion is that banks are not being able to eliminate branches -- indeed, the number of staffed bank offices is up! Still, the bankers are not giving up on their battle to teach us to love their machines. NationsBank, for example, is adding an "imaging feature" to its ATM screens: If you deposit your money in the machine, a picture of a check being deposited will be shown, just as though it was really happening. Trust us. Trust a banker? I don't think so.

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