Can Banks Please Stock Working Pens?

How is it that banks can move millions of dollars in a second over a bit of metal wire, but can’t stock working pens at the branch?

Griping about a recent penless experience at a new Citibank branch, Manhattan Offender says, “While Citibank may be trying to become the Starbucks of banking, perhaps they should keep in mind that Starbucks would never open an outlet and not provide cups. “

Recently we went to deposit a check at a Washington Mutual ATM after hours. All the pens were out of ink. We had to bring our check and deposit envelope across the street, use their pen to sign everything, and come back to WaMu to make the deposit.

A minor quibble? Perhaps. As we ponder the pen, we think, weren’t the floors were kinda dirty? Wasn’t the wastepaper basket left unemptied? And now that we’re on the subject, we don’t like WaMu’s kiosk system. Instead of linear teller windows, you conduct business at these scattered transaction islands. It may be “friendlier, but it makes us feel like we could get robbed from a 270 degree radius.

There was a WaMu branch close to where we used to live. It’s no longer so convenient. Just a few blocks away from our new place is a cluster of name-brand bank’s branch locations. Wonder how their pens are… — BEN POPKEN

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  1. RumorsDaily says:

    The DC Union Station post office doesn’t even bother putting out pens. I don’t really understand what they expect people to do.

  2. Tim Nudd says:

    In NYC, Commerce Bank has solved the pen issue – they’ve got hundreds at every counter. Plus lollipops. Dog biscuits, too, at many locations.

  3. InLondon says:

    I just opened account at Barclays over here in the UK, and they have containers strategically placed that can probably hold 100 pens each. Grab one to complete your business, and you can either drop it back in the container or keep it if you’d like. I’d love to see more banks do that back in the states.

    Now if only their online banking system were half as good as the ones in America.

  4. My grandfather taught me that a gentleman is never without a good quality pen, a handkercheif, his wallet, and in some cases a flask. In other words: Who doesn’t carry a pen?

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Pens have a tendency to explode in my pocket. Probably because I chew on them.

  6. acambras says:

    Ben, I think you mean
    “Pens have a tendency to explode in our pocket. Probably because we chew in them.”

  7. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Tim Nudd

    Yep, if you ever need a pen, just stop off at a Commerce Bank. They always have bins of pens, and I often encounter people outside of the bank, who happen to be using a Commerce Bank pen. I know I have at least one in my car, and two in my pen-cup here at work. Not only does it make things convienient, it keeps things more sanitary than everyone using the same pen over and over, plus provides advertising for Commerce.

  8. Smoking Pope says:

    Yeah, considering the money they make and the competition they face, you’d think a big box of pens (restocked as soon as it runs low (not empty)) with their name on it would be a no brainer.

    And Ben, your oral fixation can be satisfied by… Err, maybe I should post this on Fleshbot. Never mind.

  9. Fisher Bullet Space Pen, baby. Small, smooth, never leaks.

    (Reviewed, along with a selection of other weird pens, here.)

  10. AlexG says:

    Last night I was at my local Citibank and probably for the 10th time or so in the last year the pen at the ATM did not work. It was after hours and luckily the one over across the lobby by the CitiPhone was operable.

    One morning I was in the locked ATM portion of the ban about 10 minutes or so before the bank was set to open. The pen, of course, was not working, and all the employees were sitting having their pre-opening meeting. I motioned for a minute or two that the pen did not work, but got no response from the employees as they sat and discussed the business of the day. Finally, I went back out to my car and was able to track a writing utensil down.

  11. Fuzzy_duffel_bag says:

    if banks were to put out more pens, they’d just screw us with even more fees to pay for the pens. I realize pens are cheap, but banks are still assholes.

  12. Let me beat Homer Jay to the punch and say: Credit Union!

    Mine provides BASKETS of inexpensive ball-point pens (with the CU’s name on them) every day as part of the cost of doing business. Just big baskets full on every writing surface and they don’t care if you put them back or take them. Everyone in the city has four or five they accidentally wandered off with.

  13. acambras says:

    I gave up on banks having working pens long ago. Also, I often use the drive-up tellers. So I always have a bunch of pens and pencils at the bottom of my purse.

    Maybe someone needs to get Ben a man-purse for Christmas.

  14. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Slightly off topic….I never understood why Commerce Bank offered dog biscuts. Are there really that many customers who do their banking along with their canine friend?

  15. Smoking Pope says:

    @Altered Beast: What about seeing eye dogs? Gotta give them some love. They’ll help you make your way around the bank, plus you can sic them on bank employees when you find out how badly they’ve screwed you over.

  16. Sudonum says:

    I can deal with the lack of pens, I just wish they would keep the damn ATM deposit envelopes stocked!

  17. pestie says:

    In other words: Who doesn’t carry a pen?

    Maybe those of us younger than your grandfather. Hell, I don’t carry a handkerchief in my pocket, either. What would I do with it, blow my nose, tuck it back in my pocket, and save it for later? Heh… Seriously, though, I might need a pen once every few weeks or so. I keep one in the car, but that’s it. It would be pointless for me to carry a pen, or any other manual writing utensil.

    On a related note, back when I used to fly small planes, I discovered that my favorite liquid-ink pens, while great at sea level, leak ink like a bastard when rapidly taken to 5000 feet. That’s when I started taking a mechanical pencil with me when flying.

  18. Antediluvian says:

    My advice is consistent to all the single people out there (especially the guys)–

    CARRY A PEN AND PAPER WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES.

    You never know when you will need to write down someone’s email or phone number, or want to give that person yours.

    The reason I call this out to the men in the audience is that women tend to carry purses with pens and paper, but most guys don’t.

    The pen can also be a useful pickup tool — offering it to someone when in need is a kind gesture.

  19. Musician78 says:

    “The reason I call this out to the men in the audience is that women tend to carry purses with pens and paper, but most guys don’t.”


    …then how do gay guys hook-up?

  20. gwai lo says:

    I nominate this for Andy Rooney post of the week.

  21. Jeff says:

    Carrying your own pen is a must in my book. Doing so gains you the following:

    1. You can avoid touching the standard “greasy black pen” of retail stores. You know the ones. Why are they always so greasy? WTF is that? Carmex?

    Also, you’ll never have to use a pen with a spork, flower, or straw taped to it, which personally I find a little demeaning.

    2. You never have to go looking for a pen, duh.

    I think the possibility of having pens stolen is what makes retail stores not put any effort into them, as if losing a few bics is really going to be the last nail in the coffin for their business, which I have a hard time believing. Because of this, stores come up with crazy ideas for pen security, such as shackling (chains attached to counter), or defacing (attaching unattractive objects to pens) in order to decrease the likelihood of them being stolen.

    More places should realize the marketing potential of pens, print their logos on them, and give them away, Carmex-free.

  22. Musician78 says:

    I hate touching public pens. Actually, I don’t really like touching anything that are for the public. I haven’t used a public fountain in at least 8 years…

  23. josh1701 says:

    Slightly off topic….I never understood why Commerce Bank offered dog biscuts.

    Vernon Hill, Commerce Bank’s Chairman, is a dog owner and a major donor to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

    Vernon and Shirley Hill Pavilion Dedicated

  24. permissionmag says:

    This is another example of Commerce Bank doing it right. People care about the little things as much as the big ones. I’ve been banking there for five years, and it’s everything from their attitudes to the long hours to the free coin counters, dog biscuits and pens that make me like them.
    Now if they could just quit double-dipping when I use someone else’s ATM.

  25. Dustbunny says:

    Daniel — thanks for posting the link to the pen-review site. I must have one of those Fisher Bullet pens. I have a pen fetish, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  26. kepster says:

    WaMu’s pens suck, but the biggest problem with those kiosk teller things is that they don’t give out change! What bank DOESN’T HAVE CHANGE?!? I go to an old-school WaMu in my neighborhood for my laundry-day quarter needs.

  27. meandertail says:

    Hm. I guess I never noticed this pen shortage because there are never any freaking deposit envelopes to write on. I think Sudonum and I go to the same bank.

  28. Get yourself a Picopad.
    I always forget I have it until a pen emergency comes up, and then its invaluable. Not to mention the sticky notes.

  29. Musician, are you like germ-o-phobic?

  30. cryrevolution says:

    Heh…pens somehow seem to disappear from my purse at the precise moment I need them. Like of course at the bank. And thats completely true about the credit unions…I’ve banked at a couple, and they always ALWAYS have plenty of pens with their name on them scattered around the lobby.

    And I admit, I’ve jacked a few. I’m ashamed to be a part of this pen shortage you speak of. :

    -C

  31. RandomHookup says:

    I suggest all banks do like Wainwright Bank and provide donuts. I’ll bring my own pen for a couple of Munchkins.

  32. Musician78 says:

    Musician, are you like germ-o-phobic?

    Yes. With ADD and OCD. I am stylin.

  33. Musician78 says:

    *Forgot to put the quotations around the question.

  34. etinterrapax says:

    Antediluvian nailed it–I always have a pen because I always have a purse. Actually, now, with a baby, I have a big honking mom pocketbook–it’s depressing and shocking how quickly that happens–and I keep a little Moleskine notepad in there because I always have to write things down. I got a Cross Ion pen a while back that attaches to the key clip.

    I don’t know how men get by without purses, though I always assume that, like Costanza, they don’t carry pens because they’re afraid of scrotal puncture.

  35. MeOhMy says:

    I don’t know about good quality or the handkerchief bit, but I definitely think every guy should be carrying a pen and a folding knife at all times. Both have been extremely handy to me on many occasions.