Last week, we took note of a local bank's new (i.e. higher) fee schedule.
Merrill F. McLane has some sound advice on the subject.
"Shop around for a bank with more favorable fees," he writes. "Not just in the District but in Maryland and Virginia as well. I live in Bethesda but have used a Virginia bank for 15 years. When I need to cash a check, I just go to the Safeway. I chose Virginia because at that time they were more progressive than the Maryland banks. Maryland may have caught up by now; I don't know. My experience is that the larger and older the bank, the more stuffy it is apt to be. New banks are the best bet."
My experience is that it is always prudent to shop around, not only for banking services but for anything else that involves something of importance, whether it be convenience, dependability, compatibility or money.
Many people find it convenient to deal with a bank in a different jurisdiction because they deposit paychecks by mail and cash checks in stores. But if that kind of bank-by-mail relationship doesn't serve your needs and you will therefore be forced to drive from Bethesda to Virginia (or vice versa) just for bank transactions, you'd better stop for the best bank in your own neighborhood.
It's true that new banks sometimes offer special deals to attract customers, but that's no guarantee the customer will be comfortable with his bank forever. Eventually, even new banks must stop offering bargains and start bringing in enough revenue to pay the rent.
I like my stuffy old bank because after 35 years we have developed a mutual respect and understanding. I like their attitude, and that's important to me.
If my bank's fees were significantly higher than those at other banks, I'd have to weigh the value of a comfortable relationship against its cost to me. But the issue hasn't arisen yet because my stuffy old bank understands that competition is the foundation upon which a free economy is built. It realizes that people smart enough to make a dollar are smart enough to shop around for value when they spend it, and my bank caters to such people. HOW TO FIGHT INFLATION
While we're on the subject, let me tell you about a letter just in from Hugh N. Phillips of Arlington.
"My eyes felt 'scratchy' this morning so my roommate suggested a boric acid solution," he reports. Naturally, this set off a search for the family eyecup, which was nowhere to be found, so Hugh went out to buy one.
Eyecup? He tried several drugstores but quickly learned that few stores stock eyecups these days. And when he finally did find an eyecup, the price was $2.25.
"That much money for a dinky little item that should retail for a maximum of 25 cents?" Hugh wrote. "I said the hell with it, came home and used a glass jigger or shot glass. It was a little sloppy but the results were adequate. I figure if we don't buy overpriced goods we may discourage some greedy sellers."
Hugh, your letter made me feel good for two reasons. First, your reasoning is as sound as a Swiss franc. Second, I'm happy to learn that I'm not alone in my resistance to high prices. When I say, "I'm sorry, the price is too high," and walk away without buying, clerks stare at me as if I were from outer space. But I know of no other way to vote against inflation.
Lawyer Hyman J. Cohen recently suggested to Chief Judge H. Carl Moultrie I that a shoeshine stand be permitted in Superior Court here. In support of his position, Cohen pointed out that such a stand would provide a needed service. Also jobs for people willing to work. Cohen said minimum wage laws have driven so many shoeshine stands out of business that it is now hard to find one.
Even so, "The few that exist charge $1 or more.Most people tip and there are plenty of customers."
A dollar or more, plus tip, for about five minutes of work? If I were a young man, I think a pay scale of that kind would tempt me to open a shoeshine stand. THE DOLLAR SPURNED
Walter Douglas is aghast at Metro's reluctance to accept dollar bills.
Walter writes, "Look at any dollar bill: "This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.'
"I took that to mean people had to accept a dollar if you offered it in payment. So it was with amazement some years ago that I found myself being told by a U.S. postal clerk that no, the United States of America would not accept cash in payment of my passport fee; I would have to write them a check.
"And so it is that I now view with consternation and amazement the move to have bus drivers refuse the folding green. Egad sir!"
Maybe Metro knows something we don't, Walter. I wonder how they feel about Swiss francs.