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Safe Deposit Access in Vault

Question: 
We recently read a detailed question about permitting safe deposit box renters to access their boxes behind the locked day gate in the vault. Dave McGuinn offered a strong argument against permitting such access. That has prompted these follow-up questions:<ol><li>What if a box is so heavy a customer cannot carry it? Is it OK for an employee to carry it for the customer?<li>What if the customer only wants to slip a piece of paper into the box without removing the box? Can our employee stand at the day gate while the customer does so?<li>What if we have security cameras located in the vault to watch customers as they access the box? Would this allow them to stay in the vault?</ol>
Answer: 

If a safe deposit box is too heavy for a customer to carry it, I'd recommend placing it on a cart that the customer can wheel to the viewing area. Heavy boxes are ideally at a level in your vault that minimizes lifting, either from or to the box's "home," but your staff shouldn't be required to do heavy lifting of boxes, either. I have always suggested that, if an employee has to carry the box, it be kept closed and in full view of the customer until it reaches its destination.

Ideally, boxes are removed from the vault to the viewing area even for slipping in a piece of paper, but we all know that this sort of request comes up and we all know that we'll allow it. You should draw the line when the customer needs to have the box removed from its storage slot, however, and you should never allow a customer to use a stool in the vault to reach the box.

Security cameras in the vault are an excellent idea -- to watch employees and customers as they enter and leave, but it's a bad idea to allow customers to remain in the vault unattended to access a box, under the watchful eye of the camera! What happens to the concept of the banker's ignorance about box contents? As Dave McGuinn suggested, tools are available that can pop open a safe deposit lock in seconds. You don't want anyone to have that opportunity, even if you can record the event on tape.

First published on BankersOnline.com 2/12/07

First published on 02/12/2007

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