Not Quicken enough: does KeyBank have human employees?

After all my struggles getting USAA and Chase configured with my instantiation of Quicken, you might wonder why I bothered to add my KeyBank checking account, given that it’s a small one we only have the because its a requirement for having a safety deposit box. But, I’d sent away for a PIN last Fall, and as long as I was on a roll, I figured I might as well try it out.

The enrollment only took about 5 minutes. How cool is that? The shocker was learning that since receiving the PIN, I had been dinged $3.95 every MONTH for an online banking fee (the price goes up if you press the download button more than 15 times a month). How greedy is that? I know that banks are making more money from fees than from banking, so to speak, but I’m still surprised that Key is charging almost $50 a year for something that allows them to fire more tellers and saves them the expense of mailing me paper statements.

I phoned them up, and canceled the Quicken support. They said I could use web-based banking at no additional charge, so I started the online enrollment process.

Elizabeth came into the room just as I was confronted with the inevitable request to read and agree to the legal verbiage. We were both pleasantly surprised that it was only a small screen in length, and was written in real English. Elizabeth said there would surely be a clause in which they impose arbitration on us in case of disputes, but it wasn’t there.

Elizabeth was right after all.

Once I accepted the first agreement, I was immediately confronted with the following request followed by 4 links and 2 buttons:

By selecting the Accept button below, I:

1. certify that I can view the Account Disclosures and Agreements set forth above and am able to save and print them for future review,

2. acknowledge reading and receiving all Account Disclosures and Agreements,

3. agree to and intend to be bound by the following terms and conditions contained in the Disclosures and Agreements provided above.

At this point, I turned cynical again. The 4 links, apparently the ‘all Account Disclosures and Agreements’ were entitled:

I did try to read them. Guess what? They not only contained the arbitration clause, they included the following:

Pages

90

Words

47,877

Characters

253,614

Paragraphs

923

Lines

3,754

What reasonable expectation would any human being have that another human being would at this point sit down and read 90 pages of legalese just in order to use vanilla banking services? What normal human would carefully sift through 47,877 words of gibberish? It took a quarter million characters for Key to dump their risks onto my lap. I’ve had lawyers tell me that I should read these things, but consider that moderately wired Yanks and Brits get one of these a week from a financial intuition, a software vendor, or some other well-lawyered firm that wants to reduce their risk at your expense.

If you don’t agree to sucking up whatever these bullies are inflicting on their so-called customers, what is your choice? Should you open up an account at another bank and then start the online enrollment prices to see if it is intended for human use? Whenever a bank does make a mistake, sending you a letter to inform you that they’ve lost your personal information and you might be at increased risk of identity theft, they consider their responsibility over. We sent you 5 pages on our privacy policy in an envelope that was filled full of advertising for a loan that you didn’t need.

The truth is, I lied. I pressed the button saying that I can and did read these, but I probably cannot and certainly did not. This is the state that lawyers have put us in today–forcing us to lie in order to participate in our economy. And they wonder why we make jokes about them. Are they laughing all the way to my bank?

What human being actually participated in the creation of a Kafkaesque system like this? I’m eager to hear someone defend it. If you did, then put your comments below, so we can all read why this is so beneficial for ordinary people.

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