Sunday, January 02, 2000

Just another day at the bank


No worries for customers

Enquirer news services

        NEW YORK - To show customers that their money had not vaporized with the arrival of Y2K, a few bank offices stayed open all night and many others opened early Saturday morning. There were, however, few worrywarts to reassure and fewer panicked withdrawals of cash.

        In more than a few lonely branch offices, employees wondered why they had gotten up early and come to work, only to look at each other.

        “How are we going to keep occupied today with our entire staff in here?” asked Susan Langdon, manager of the Lincoln Center branch of Charles Schwab in Manhattan. The discount brokerage firm opened 300 of its 340 branches across the country Saturday, and the customer traffic was light, according to Greg Gable, a spokesman for Charles Schwab in San Francisco.

        In the Lincoln Center branch, which opened at 9 a.m. sharp, the front door had been unlocked for 45 minutes before the first customer of the new millennium walked in to find Mrs. Langdon and six other investment advisers eager to calm his nerves. He did not want to be calmed. He wanted to set up an account to buy high-tech stocks online.

        So it went across much of the country.

        In the Cleveland area, despite an advertising campaign touting its New Year's Day hours — along with a $25 cash bonus to new checking account customers and half-point discount on installment loans — Metropolitan Bank & Trust had only one customer waiting at its branch in Mayfield Heights when it opened at 11 a.m.

        Eleanor Bader, dressed in a short coat with a fur collar, stopped at the bank to see if her Social Security check had cleared early, not to verify that her savings account was safe.

        “I had no doubts,” she said about the bank's year 2000 readiness. “I was just worried about my Social Security check.”

        The Federal Reserve reported that its check-clearing operations, which process 68 million checks on a typical day, were operating normally.

        The nation's automated teller machines, primed with extra cash, were reported to be operating normally as well.

       



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