So after hearing such good things about USAA from friends and learning that they had opened up their banking products to the non-military-connected, I figured I would give them a shot as my checking / savings provider. A big part of that decision was because of the home scanning / mobile app deposit options USAA offers.
Before I rag on USAA for what I’m about to rag on them for, I’ll say that I should have noticed before signing up that this idiotic policy was in place. But I assumed theirs was a logical operation, which is my fault. And I should say that this mind-numbing bit of idiocy will not keep me from remaining a USAA customer. Overall I like them so far.
The idiotic, illogical policy is this: USAA welcomes your checking / savings business no matter who you are, but they will only allow you to use their Deposit@Home or Deposit@Mobile services if you are eligible for the services they restrict to military-types.
Let’s go beyond the supposed “trustworthy” nature of people who qualify for other USAA services (I’m not aware that my father had a USAA policy, but as a veteran he could have. And if he did, I could deposit checks via my iPhone. He skipped town on $2 million in debt and left our family nearly destitute. But if he had USAA insurance at some point, I could deposit checks via my iPhone) and the company’s disinterest in evaluating the creditworthiness of individuals (the wife and I have excellent credit, verified in February in refinancing our home. But I’m not “qualified” to deposit checks via my iPhone).
Whatever risk is involved in allowing scanned/mobile deposits is not mitigated by being “qualified” under USAA’s rules, it’s mitigated by being a good credit risk, which I am. But I can’t deposit checks via iPhone because I’m not a “qualified” USAA member.
And let’s go beyond the stupidity of this policy from a business perspective. Obviously they want to get new customers (or they wouldn’t have opened checking / savings up to non-”qualified” people), yet they deny the biggest differentiator they have (remote deposits) to this potential new market. I’ve been a customer of “online” banks since 1998, and the deposit issue has always been the biggest drawback. And here USAA has solved it … except they won’t let me use it because I’m not “qualified” to buy their life insurance.
No, let’s get beyond all that to a point of real stupidity / hilarity.
When I discovered that I will never be able to deposit checks via my iPhone with USAA (verified through an email exchange with customer service), I was directed to the place where I can order postage-paid deposit envelopes to use with the free box of deposit slips I ordered when I set up my account. That’s how I managed deposits with NetBank, so it’s acceptable. And I toyed with the notion of moving our money from our E*Trade account through a series of $10 deposits mailed in using those free deposit slips and postage-paid envelopes. USAA will send me 10 envelopes a week and I have 40 or so E*Trade checks left. It’s what they want, after all.
But, of course, the first thing that struck me was how stupid it is for USAA to push me toward a deposit method that no doubt costs them a lot more money than accepting Deposit@Home or Deposit@Mobile deposits … which is what I would like to do … but they won’t let me.
Consider the flow and ponder the costs:
- They provide me with free deposit slips, which they pay Harland-Clarke to produce and mail to me.
- They provide me with free deposit envelopes, which they pay to have produced and pay to mail to me.
- They pay for the postage required for me to send back the deposit.
- They incur costs to handle and process the mailed-in deposit.
No doubt what USAA ends up with is a scanned image of the checks I’m depositing – the exact same thing I would like to give them without all of the things required to mail in a check.
That’s the stupidity. Today I got the hilarity with my first batch of postage-paid envelopes.
USAA sent them to me in a big “flat” mailer (which costs more to mail than a standard envelope with envelopes in it) so they could include an informative letter (which cost them money to print, of course). The letter contained this message (emphasis added):
As you requested, we have enclosed envelopes to assist you in making your deposits. Please keep in mind we offer other deposit options that will save you time and money. Log on to usaa.com to learn more about:
* USAA Deposit@Home
* Direct Deposit (Payroll)
* Electronic Funds Transfer
* Web Bill Pay
Pure hilarity. Apparently USAA isn’t quite as dumb as I thought – they realize that directing customers away from mailing in deposits is a good business move. They’re just not smart enough to actually offer the service to the new customers they are trying to attract.