The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hamilton Blues

You're on the run, grabbing some doubles and roti and a bottle of Ting, not a second to spare to get back home for the final episode of "So You Think You Can Fish" when you reach into your purse or pocket and realize you spent your last ten spot on a decaf double macchiato. With just $15 in your checking account, you figure you're screwed. But look! It's a miracle!!:

You can pull out a sawbuck, tip your Trinidadian chef and be home in time for the first drop of a lure.

While the above scenario has probably happened to you a dozen times, I'd like to remind us all how totally predatory it all is. Not the fishing, mind you. The ATM machine in question wants $3.00 for the privilege of giving you your Hamilton. Since presumably this plastic ATM model GE7459 is not a branch of your regular bank, your actual financial institution will charge an average of $2.00 for your cheating on it with another machine. Folks, that a 50% charge for YOUR money.

Of course this doesn't run afoul of New York's usury laws. Even though it is illegal for someone to charge you more than 16% annual interest for a loan, the perverse situation in question is actually the opposite. You're being charged for YOUR money. Guess the mattress is looking pretty good right now.

Maybe cash deters bedbugs?


Anonymous said...

I was curious about this phenomenon, so I did a little research. It seems that the point of advertising $10 bills is not necessarily to prey on people who only want to take out $10 at a time, but to be a source of smaller bills to businesses/entrepreneurs who need more tens and can't get them easily. My guess is that in a largely informal economy that has few actual banks within walking distance (the nearest are a ten-minute walk down to Church Ave.), ATMs play a large role in the local money supply. If people only have $20s, small bills will vanish fast. This creates a demand for smaller denominations, and while an ATM filled with $5 or $1 bills would be impracticable (i.e. it would run out in a hurry), an ATM filled with $10s would actually be a convenience to people (including, but not exclusively, people selling dime bags.)

That's just my amateur-microeconomics two cents.

babs said...

These ATMs are actually cheaper than bank ATMs - they charge $1 - $1.75, vs. up to $3 at bank ATMs (if your bank doesn't happen to be Chase or BofA, which seem to be 99% of the ATMs in this city). And bank ATMs usually don't have any withdrawal options lower than $40 because they don't have $10 bills (although the handicapped-accessible one at the Citibank on 7th Ave. on Park Slope does have $10 bills, so you can get $30 - why the other machines in there do not I have no idea).

Seth said...

What's unfortunate is that in our neighborhood, you can't extra cash back on your purchases. Not anywhere. Not at the Duane Reade. Not at the supermarkets. Nowhere. This is usually how I do cash withdrawals. It's far cheaper too since there's no fee from the merchant and (usually) no fee from banks. The closest place I know that does cash back is the Super Stop and Stop and that's not very close.

What's really weird is that merchants generally LOVE to give cash back. It keeps their nighttime cash deposits very low.

6.54 said...

Another fee-dodging technique, in addition to getting cash back from merchants: switch to an online bank that reimburses you for ATM fees. You have to make deposits by mail, but since we don't have banks in our neighborhood anyway it often ends up being more convenient. After years of being mad about the cost of ATM fees you incur by living here, I closed my wachovia account and opened one with Charles Schwab. And you get the bonus of dumping a bank that supports predatory lending/Mexican drug war money laundering!

Then again, ATM fees disproportionally affect people who can't afford internet access, so...