Tired of filing paper statements for checking accounts, I logged onto my bank’s website to see how to sign up for electronic-only statements (a service the bank has been pushing heavily). Here is what they say:
Your electronic statements are exactly the same as your paper statements. Each month you will receive an email informing you when your statement is available online. Your statements will remain online for 24 months on our secure web site and may be downloaded or printed for permanent retention.
But this is a lie. Electronic statements are not exactly the same as paper ones. Paper statements don’t disappear after two years in my filing cabinet. (There have been instances when I needed transaction information that was more than 2 years old.) So if I go electronic I will have to do even more work, printing statements myself, if I want to continue keeping records as I do now. I can see why the bank likes this arrangement but what’s in it for me?
Banks are so stupid. If they promised to keep my statements on their computers indefinitely I would sign up to go paperless in a second. They would still come out ahead. Can anyone imagine that it costs them less to print and mail twelve statements a year — plus credit-card and loan solicitations, privacy policies, etc. — than to store my data for the same period on their hard drives? What a bunch of dopes. Of course these are the same people who always jump, lemming like, into whatever lending sector is currently overdone and therefore fraught with hidden risk. And then they get burned and become irrationally risk-averse until the next business fad comes along.
UPDATE: Another bank makes the electronic statements available in perpetuity, but requires me to request them a day before it will show them to me online. That’s better, but why can’t they simply make all statements readily available all of the time?