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Fridge defrosting and online banking

The hike was too much for Emma yesterday. I'm glad we called it off rather than completing the hike, because she spent the rest of the day lounging and still slept 12 hours last night. She awoke today to find gray drippy skies, cool temperatures, and Mom and Dad firmly parked in the Airstream.

Eleanor is still deep into Harry Potter, feverishly reading Book 4 at this point. As a writer, I feel her speed-reading of the series is an affront to J.K. Rowling. It took a year to write each book and Eleanor is gulping them down like goldfish crackers. If Eleanor continues at this pace, her head will likely explode. She admits to having Harry Potter dreams each night. But she's under a magic spell of sorts and so she spent the morning reading about Harry and Hermione and Ron again.

Being a gloomy Monday, and since I am recharged with a week's worth of sunshine and good times, I felt it was appropriate to get right back to work and deal with some ugly accounting issues that I've been postponing, related to our new bookstore accounts.

New bookstore accounts, you ask? Yes! The Fall 2007 issue of Airstream Life is going to be available in select Barnes & Noble, Borders, Hastings, and Books-A-Million bookstores as of Aug 22, 2007! That's huge news for us, drastically broadening the reach of Airstream Life magazine, but it also means I've got more work to do each quarter, keeping track of the complex bookstore sales-return accounts.

Panton fridge coils.jpg

Eleanor finally put down Harry and got into her long-postponed task too, which was defrosting the refrigerator. Being full-timers, our refrigerator is never turned off. So eventually, it needs defrosting. This time we let it go a little too far. The coils were completely encased in ice (above photo shows them half-cleared), which really limits the ability of the refrigerator to cool itself.

Panton defrost.jpg

It turned out to be an ideal task for the day. The cool weather meant she could put everything in an ice chest for the hour or so it took to do the job, without worry of food spoiling, and with Emma paused by the cold virus, there wasn't much else to do anyway.

I had another task related to full-timing, too. A few months ago I moved our company bank account because the bank we were using had completely inadequate online services. As I've mentioned, I run an entirely virtual business and am dependent on good online services from as many vendors as possible. Our former bank couldn't give me online access to our business line of credit, couldn't manage online transfers between accounts, couldn't supply monthly statements that showed the names of payees (even when I used their bill pay service!), and in general has been about as hip to the Internet as Lawrence Welk. When I sent a payment to the line of credit at their bank using their bill pay service, it took five days to clear, because -- get this -- they cut a paper check and sent it to another branch of their own organization.

Today I went into the local branch to close the old accounts. I felt I needed to look the branch manager who opened the accounts for me several years ago right in the eye and tell him honestly but politely why I was switching. He understood my reasoning and sent me to the teller windows to get the job done. And here's what happened:

1) The teller could not get a payoff amount for the line of credit. She didn't have access to that information, even though I opened the line of credit at that specific branch.

2) The teller called the bank's account closure department and THEY couldn't tell us the payoff. They can only fax the payoff amount "within 24-48 hours". (What if you don't have a fax?)

3) They told me that once I got the payoff amount via fax, I'd need to come into the bank to actually make the payoff (or call it in). Can't do it online, of course.

4) They couldn't close the line of credit account, because I need to send in a "request" via fax referencing the "request number" I was given over the phone when I, uh, made the request. Got that?

5) They couldn't close the checking account because it will take five days to clear the payment I'm making, even though that payment is from their bank to their bank.

So in the end, I got virtually nothing done as a result of my twenty minutes at the bank. I'm not mentioning the name of the bank out of respect for my friends who work there, but I'm sharing this story as an example. Those of you who want to work on the road: My recommendation is to have low tolerance for large businesses who still can't provide decent online tools.

To those of you in the banking industry: Quit spending all your time merging with each other and start competing! My bank has been through half a dozen mergers in the past few years, and each time the changes they institute "to serve you better" haven't done a bit of good. I don't care how many branches you have. In the age of the Internet, for me, bank branch offices are about as useless as travel agent offices. Haven't stepped into a travel agent's office in over ten years... and considering how little I managed to accomplish as a result of my visit to the local bank branch, I suspect it will be a long time before I bother doing that again either.

Surprisingly, I came out of the bank amused rather than aggravated. I can only attribute this to the fact that we've had such a spectacular past week. Or maybe it's just having extra space in the refrigerator ...


Hope Emma gets to feeling better soon.

Congrats on the new retail outlets! That's wonderful news!

you can join a Credit Union...they are basically open to all now instead of a specific group of say..teachers, etc....our Credit Union is the Best...they are terrific on-line...member makes a happy for all of you that Airstream Life will be available in bookstores...

Ditto on the's to continued growth!

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