In mid-April Ally Bank announced its new remote deposit service called eCheck Deposit. This service allows you to scan and submit your check images electronically without having to mail in your checks. Currently, only invited Ally account holders (with either a checking, savings or money market account) have access to this service. The Ally blog mentioned that customers can increase the chance of being invited by calling Ally at 1-877-247-2559 and letting them know you're interested. This is what DepositAccounts.com reader virgquest did before she received the invitation. After giving the service a try, she was kind enough to email me a detailed review of her experience. She's a user of Chase's QuickDeposit, so she knows how a well-designed remote deposit service is suppose to work. Below is her review:
I received a check in the mail today and tried out Ally's new online deposit service. Starting from the Make a Deposit link on the nav bar, the first instruction was to endorse the check. This I had already done, but unlike Chase, Ally wanted me to add "For Ally eCheck Deposit only" and my account number below my signature, so I had to stop and look up the number.
On the next screen, I had to check two boxes verifying that the check was payable to me and that I endorsed it properly, then enter the deposit amount and select the deposit account. The next screen explained that they offer an automated check scanning wizard, but it's only available for Windows XP and IE 7 or 8, so I (a Mac user) would have to do a "manual upload." Other check scanning wizards are supposedly coming soon.
The manual upload procedure consisted of me using third-party scanning equipment to scan the front and back of my check into two separate files and then uploading them to Ally's website. Ally specified the required color (grayscale), resolution (300 dpi), file format (jpg), file size (1 MB), and orientation of the check. They also suggested I draw dots on the corners of my check to help my scanner "judge the size" of the check (I ignored that suggestion).
After I uploaded each file (this takes several seconds during which you get no sign from the webpage that anything is actually happening), I had the opportunity to adjust the rotation and crop of the image. I also had to check more boxes to verify that I'd checked these things. Finally, I was re-shown the deposit account and the amount of deposit, which was what I had typed in, NOT what was shown on the check face (I deliberately entered non-matching info to test the system), and was asked to confirm the deposit.
After I corrected my deposit info and actually submitted the check, I got a confirmation screen with a transaction # that I was supposed to print for my records and a message informing me that since it was after 4 PM, my deposit would take 2 business days to appear in my account. The page also stated that I would receive an email confirmation of the deposit. Over three hours later, I've received nothing from Ally and there is no sign in my account that I've actually deposited anything. Perhaps they meant that they would send me an EMAIL in two days... who knows?
The advertising message on Ally's deposits intro web page claims that this "easy, free, and secure service" takes 10 minutes or less to use. I honestly don't want to spend 10 minutes depositing a single check. I want to spend about 2 max. Ally's deposit process felt like a lot of hassle compared to using Chase's iPhone app, where I just log in, take two snapshots, click a couple buttons and I'm done. The $$ appears in my account within seconds and I can check my balance before logging out to make sure everything worked. I've occasionally had a problem with the app being finicky about recognizing a handwritten check, but it's usually just a lighting or camera angle problem. Regardless, I don't have to worry about a bunch of image specifications or check a bunch of extraneous boxes, and the Chase app automagically matches my deposit amount to the amount on the check. I also get a confirmation email right away. Chase's process makes me feel confident about making e-deposits. Ally's does not.
Don't get me wrong - I'm excited that Ally has finally added remote deposit - but Chase has set the bar so high that I'm underwhelmed by Ally's first attempt. I might have been really happy with this service offering 2-3 years ago, but at this point, it feels a little behind the times. The manual scanner option may be great for people who don't have a smartphone, but I really hope they add an easy-to-use remote deposit app to go with it soon for those of who do!
A couple of days after the first review, virgquest provided a follow-up with more details on email notifications and funds availability:
As a follow up, I received an email from Ally around 1 AM (30 mins ago) that informed me that my deposit had been accepted as of 6/9. $100 is available now (1 business day) and the rest will be available tomorrow (2 business days). I logged in to my account and can see the additional funds in the current and available balances, so it looks like everything worked correctly. For me, the posting delay on the funds is tolerable and doesn't appear that different from the usual ACH hold. The big issue, and one that seems so simple to fix, is the lack of notification that a transaction is in process immediately after the deposit has been made. Granted, there is a confirmation web page with a reference number, but if the page is closed without the number being recorded by the depositer, there is no way for that person to retrieve it. All he or she can do is wait two days and hope to get a "deposit complete" email. Most sites that allow you to complete a transaction, including many retail and financial sites as well as Ally's own ACH transfer service, provide some sort of online transaction status and/or an email follow-up, so this seems to be a rather glaring oversight.
Anyway, I'd rate the service a B overall. It's definitely functional, but it needs some work to get from acceptable to great.
I would like to give a big thank you to virgquest for sharing her experience. If you have also given Ally's eCheck Deposit a try, please leave a comment or email me. And please let us know if you were able to run the scanning wizard. This should simplify things for those who have Windows.
Ally's blog post mentioned that this is just the first step in the roll out, and a mobile solution is scheduled. Hopefully, Ally's eCheck Deposit will become as easy to use as Chase's QuickDeposit.