Personalization at the Expense of the Personal

It is a sad fact of the e-times in which we live that personalization often comes at the expense of the personal.

I made this bittersweet realization when I became an early adapter of e-banking. I couldn't wait to pay bills electronically and track my credit card and investment accounts online. I signed up as soon as my bank offered the service.

My bank at the time was a small hometown institution where everybody knew my name (or at least my face). I'd been with them for years and, with a full-service branch within walking distance of my house and another close to the office, I was a happy banker.

Unfortunately, the folks at Quicken didn't know my bank's name--they only contract with larger institutions. So, I used my bank's clunky dial-up connection to download data into their substandard register only to import it separately into Quicken. E-bill payment? Too frustrating to describe. Eventually I dropped the service.

I toyed with the idea of giving up my relationship with my local bank for the added services of a larger institution. I resisted. Recently the dilemma was resolved when my bank was purchased by one of those larger institutions, Now I enjoy efficient Internet-based online banking. No longer am I the passive recipient of quarterly investment statements. I actively monitor and manage my personal accounts and investments online. I am the mistress of my financial domain.

But nobody knows my name.

I am currently shopping for a friendly neighborhood bar.

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