Customer uneasiness over Y2k concerns Florida bank officials : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread,1136,26000000000105729,00.html


Customer uneasiness over Y2K concerns Florida bank officials

By ANTONIO FINS Sun-Sentinel Web-posted: 9:00 p.m. Dec. 9, 1999

Banks, thrifts and credit unions have tested their computers and say they are confident the Y2K date rollover will be seamless.

But Al Wurf of Delray Beach still harbors uneasiness about the preparedness of the nation's electronic payment system heading into New Year's Eve.

Wurf, 78, a retired union official from New Jersey, points out that he, and many other senior citizens, are dependent on technology that moves pension payments to their accounts and on electronic networks to take care of paying phone and power bills as well as health insurance premiums.

"The possibility exists that there will be a problem and then the whole system falls apart," Wurf said. "So many seniors depend on (electronic transfers of their) checks. If the check doesn't come in, or if there is a screw-up, or if there is a computer mix-up, what do they do?"

The financial industry, and the government officials who regulate it, insist Wurf and others need not worry: Their money -- and their records -- are safe.

Yet, as the most anticipated stroke of midnight since Cinderella lost a slipper approaches, anxious customers such as Wurf form the one aspect of the Y2K scenario that still causes bankers and regulators to grit their teeth.

The worry: Consumers hung up about the safety of their money will take out large amounts of cash and, unwisely, set themselves up to be robbed or cheated out of their savings.

"No one should take out any more money than they would for any normal holiday weekend," said Juan Del Busto, assistant manager of the Miami Federal Reserve branch. "We are doing everything we can to discourage people from taking out extra money. First, because they will lose interest. Second, of course, because of the chances they will be robbed."

So after spending billions of dollars and untold work hours performing meticulous technical fixes and running repetitive tests, the nation's financial industry finds itself spending more money to print pamphlets and posters to build confidence in a more fickle form of intelligence, the human psyche.

The campaign is geared at convincing skeptics and the unsure that the so-called Y2K bug, the threat that the date change from 99 to 00 on uncorrected computer timepieces may cause networks to fail, will not result in massive deletions of records, ATM shutdowns or the disconnection of the country's commercial lifeline.

SunTrust Bank is placing posters in its branch lobbies of a customer relaxing on a dock by a lake, the message being that there is no need to rush to the bank vault for cash. In all, federal regulators expect the nation's banks to record about $10 billion worth of Y2K expenditures, including the public information campaign.

"This district has been prepared for months," said the Fed's Del Busto. "All the payment systems will work. Credit cards, debit cards, fund transfer systems -- it will all work."

Nevertheless, the Fed has said it will make up to $50 billion available to the financial system to ensure that institutions have enough cash on hand to cover a possible surge in demand for dollars by an anxious public.

Bankers say consumers would do best to leave that cash in the branch vaults.

"The safest place for your money is not your mattress and it's not your house. It's your bank," said Regina Waterhouse, the chief operating officer at Gateway American Bank in Fort Lauderdale.

The region's banks, thrifts and credit unions also insist they have contingency plans in place to make sure you have access to your money, Y2K bugs or not.

Those plans include backup data processing systems, generators to supply electricity to branches, extra employees at teller windows and phone banks and even arrangements with local supermarkets to swap cashiers' checks for cash if necessary.

"The last-minute things are all done," said Bob Schweitzer, Broward president of Union Planters.

Banks also are hiring extra security guards to protect customers and employees at their offices and branches.

One local institution, which asked that it not be identified, will post an armed guard at its door throughout New Year's Eve to protect employees who will monitor computer systems as the date change takes place.

Del Busto at the Miami Fed branch and other bank officials say they are relieved to see that consumer and public angst over Y2K is waning.

"I think some of the anxiety has subsided," said Linda Gioseffi, an executive vice president and Y2K coordinator at SunTrust. "We're not seeing an increased outflow of (money). I think people are calming down. A lot of people are not going to go out for New Year' Eve -- they are going to stay home or they are going to be working to make sure everything goes all right."

Antonio Fins can be reached at or 954-356-4669.

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 10, 1999


>> "No one should take out any more money than they would for any normal holiday weekend," said Juan Del Busto, assistant manager of the Miami Federal Reserve branch. "We are doing everything we can to discourage people from taking out extra money. First, because they will lose interest. Second, of course, because of the chances they will be robbed." <<

Oh come ON now! We're expected to believe the bank is interested in people not being robbed? Excuse my skepticism, but just exactly when was the last time a bank cared about anything but the bottom-line? Yeah, my bank (Sun Trust) is discouraging people from taking out too much money also - but not because they're worried about my being robbed; they just don't want to be subject to a "run". Let's get real, huh?

Right ... if I get robbed, then I'll just go to my bank and they'll fix me right up!

-- Bruce (, December 10, 1999.

"We are doing everything we can to discourage people from taking out extra money. First, because they will lose interest. "

Now this one REALLY pisses me off big time. Where do they get off saying that they are so concerned about my interest?

Let's look at this:

I take out $5,000 for 6 days, oh hell make it 10 days. I take it out December 28, and if everything is ok, I put it back on January 7, 2000 if the banks are up and running.

What has it cost me? Well, even if my interest bearing checking account or passbook savings account is paying a very generous 5%, here's the calculation (not accounting for daily compounding which is minimal on a tem day withdrawal):

$5,000 * 5% = $250 (simple interest for one full year)

$250 / 365 = $ .685 (interest accrued each day)

$ .685 *10 = $ 6.85 (total interest for 10 days)

Now in this example, we used an interest rate of 5%. I don't know of anyone paying that now, unless you lock into a CD, then you can get more. More likely, you'd be getting 3%. That means a forfeiting of a whopping $4.10!

Now, on the other hand, say the banks Aren't fine, and I only had $300 for my "long weekend". Come January 5, how will I be purchasing necessities? (I'm prepared, but I'm sure there are still some things forgotten. But what about all those people who haven't prepared, what will they do????)

OK, OK, say the banks are fine "for the most part", but there are still spot outages or problems, and I have to get my money out of a "foreign ATM"? How much will I pay in user fees? $2-$3 on average between my bank and the ATM owner. I'll burn up that additional inters in less than two transactions!!!

All this assumes, of course, that I didn't take my money out of a Non- interest bearing account, which many checking accounts are. In that case, there's NO interest lost.

With the fees that banks charge...monthly checking charges, ATM charges, check printing fees, on-line banking fees, NSF (bounced check) fees....Does anyone TRULY believe that the banks care about our lost interest???


-- Duke 1983 (, December 10, 1999.


-- Dennis (, December 10, 1999.

one more time


-- Dennis (, December 10, 1999.

Re SunTrust, I have two accounts, business and personal. I posted this elsewhere. But on the one, I mailed a deposit, then figuring it would be posted to my account sent off a couple of checks ten days later to pay bills. Well, the deposit wasn't posted until 18 days later. oh, just guess what? I'm now overdrawn because the checks for the bills were handled immediately and because they hadn't posted my deposit, they charged me $60.00. I spent 6 hours one day, and 3 hours the next day trying to find what had happened to my deposit. One bank official admitted they were re-doing some files with new numbers, getting ready for Y2K. Guess I was one of the lucky ones. But I'm cancelling both accounts as soon as I can get them straightened out.

-- D.J. Phillips (, December 10, 1999.

Florida has reason to be worried. In the first place we have an unusual number of Seniors here and most are old enuff to remember 1929 and the following years. They don't care to go through that again, especially at their current age. There is probably more electronic transfers going on here than many states for the same reason of their being so many Seniors. And then, I know a lot of baby boomers that are stepping up to the window in the last two weeks and asking for their money. So far the bank is giving it, but not without a lecture and a hassle. Will see how it goes Monday when I go in to cash Chubby Hubby's pay check. We now have a Renta Cop patrolling the outside of the bank.


-- Taz (, December 10, 1999.

yea.... my bank was really concerned about people taking money out for y2k cause "people are setting themselves up to be robbed" Guess what? my bank was robbed yesterday.

-- richard shockwave (, December 10, 1999.

All this hype and anxiety, when there is in fact nothing to worry about. January 1, 2000 falls on a Saturday, when the banks are closed. Where could the money go when the banks are closed? I'm afraid I just don't grasp this yet .....

-- SH (, December 10, 1999.

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