ThisIsDumb: Commerce Bank’s Monitors Face Window

Can you spot the problem in this picture? Reader Conformco snagged it and writes:

    “A new Commerce Bank opened over the holiday break on 50th & Broadway in Manhattan. When I walked past this afternoon, I noticed that the desks inside feature monitors that face out onto a public plaza.

    Now maybe they’re just using these for Google Earth or pr0n, but the guy I saw seemed hard at work on a spreadsheet… a spreadsheet that I imagine contained account numbers, names, SSN and the like. But maybe not.

    Either way, they’re not getting my business until the get some privacy glass installed. Or at least some shrubbery.”

Just because all the cool TV shows like 24 have everyone interacting through a series of glass pane offices doesn’t mean the rest of us have to, Commerce Bank. — BEN POPKEN

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  1. kerry says:

    There’s a hot, new, candy-colored Citibank that just went in near where I live. (I can’t remember the exact address, though I did walk by it some time last week. All I can say is it’s on the North Side of Chicago.) The whole side of the bank is glass, and all the little mini-offices for the bankers are along those windows. Probably to make them more friendly to customers they positioned the desks such that the bankers’ backs would be to the windows. Hence, their monitors face the sidewalk. Smooth move, Citibank.

  2. Jesse in Japan says:

    Not saying it’s impossible, but you would need a hell of a zoom lens to get a snapshot of any readable information from that computer monitor.

  3. homerjay says:

    ugh… Really Jesse? So its either invest in one hell of a zoom lens or take 10 steps closer to the window… hmmm…..

  4. saikofish says:

    Well, it’s not unheard of for building or planning departments to demand that storefront glass remain clear and open–it’s a directive that’s primarily concerned with making public places more attractive. For instance, you wouldn’t want retailers to plaster signs or advertisements all over their windows. A common solution to this, for most retailers anyway, is to put pretty display cases and mannequins at those windows, but that doesn’t work too well for banks.

    So, maybe they couldn’t get opaque glass permitted, but then they couldn’t spring for a redesign of the space? Sounds to me someone was under the gun to get this branch open, privacy concerns be damned!

  5. superbmtsub says:

    This is dumb. Banks I’ve seen with glass walls where anybody could peek into a computer have this broad section of translucent glass material in the middle of the glass structure to prevent prying eyes while at the same time looking classy and people friendly.

  6. a lady says:

    the other desk is visible from the inside of the building…noticed it on my way out last night.

  7. conformco says:

    Yeah, actually I could’ve gotten closer… you can pretty much walk up to the glass and be about 5 feet away from the monitor, but I didn’t want to be too obvious. But with their backs to the glass I doubt anyone would have actually noticed.

  8. Polymath says:

    Talk to Vernon Hill’s (Commerce’s CEO) wife about this. She designs all the banks to fit her standards. Since she has no idea what she’s doing, based on the fact that she has no previous bank design experience and her company’s only customer is Commerce, no common sense is used.

    I could list all of the stupid things Commerce does to serve customer service at the expense of common sense security, but I would get nauseous after the first two or three.

  9. B says:

    Couldn’t they just turn the desks around? That way the employees can actually look out the window, and they won’t have glare on the screens, plus no privacy concerns.

  10. c-side says:

    If the bankers turn their desks around, then all the customers inside the bank will be able to see the data! And it doesn’t matter whether or not people will or can actually see/copy/hijack data from outside those big glass windows. What’s important is that customers PERCEIVE that it’s possible, and that can create insecurity, which just doesn’t fly when it comes to banking. They absolutely need to address this design gaffe asap.

  11. Ben Popken says:

    How about the guy turns his back to the wall?

  12. Hirayuki says:

    Most banks in Japan have glass fronts; they just wall them off and decorate the resulting space with plants, posters advertising their services, and any freebies they happen to be giving away with a new account.

  13. Rusdude says:

    I’m not surprised. Several brokerages/banks in Downtown Houston had similar problem. One of the places was (is?) IBC Bank.