Thursday, May 05, 2005

One generation ago # 1 - banks

I've had a sequence running through my head recently about how "things ain't like what they used to be". I think the reason I have this blog - and the reason I post to it - is to get these things out of my head to make room for new things that I'm not bored of.

Anyway, #1 in this sequence is banks. Counting one generation as 25 years (I believe that is the standard) this was the deal:

You had a bank account, and a cheque book. Cheque cards hadn't been invented, there were no holes-in-the-wall to get money from, and not many people had a credit card (my dad did, he had to reclaim expenses: he used to have a Diners Club card among others: I've never seen another since.)

You had a branch, and at that branch you could withdraw money. You went in, gave them a cheque: they compare the signature with the file and if they like it (and you have enough money in your account which is held in a ledger) they give you the money.

If you're in a branch of your bank which isn't your own - there is no question of using another bank - then the branch phones your branch, authenticates you I-don't-know-how, and gives you the money. Or not. Or they make you speak to the branch. Of course, they charged for this - £10 at least, a lot more money then - and you had to actually wait for someone on the other end to pick up the phone, find your file, authenticate you I-don't-know-how, and authorise the withdrawal based on your account balance.

You could make "an arrangement" with another branch - and potentially a branch of another bank if there were any affiliated with yours. I had a bank account in 1979 with the Bank Of Scotland (my father's branch, which I think at the time was Waterloo Street, Glasgow) but "an arrangement" with Barclays in Epsom: I suppose they had a signature on file and would phone the bank for withdrawls of more than £10 or so (to confirm my account balance) but I wouldn't be charged for the call. I'd have to wait.

By the way - I no longer have an account with the Bank Of Scotland. We parted company, shall we say, mutually. Certainly unequivocally.

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