Problems Encountered by Tellers

By Catherine Capozzi; Updated July 05, 2017

Bank tellers do more than process checks and open checking accounts. They are often the guardian between you and your money. In that role, they perform a number of job functions. The nature of a teller’s job can present countless challenges that extend beyond administering correct change. Below are just a few of the problems a bank teller can encounter on the job.

Unusual Requests

Bank tellers interact with a wide variety of patrons, with numerous different requests. One customer returning from vacation might want to convert all of her Japanese yen into dollars. Another might wonder how to transfer money from her checking account into an account in a foreign country. Sometimes, tellers do not know the answer, and other times, the request cannot be processed based on company or legal rules. Nonetheless, a bank teller must receive training on how to handle these unusual requests.

Computer Problems

Bank software can be modern or extremely antiquated. Each system can take many days or months to learn. When a computer problem happens on the job, the teller must know the correct protocol. Sometimes, IT should be called and other times, the problem can be fixed by the teller. Regardless of the solution, these problems can result in a long delay that can irritate customers and test the patience of the teller.

Rude Customers

Some customers, especially those who waited a long time in line before being served, are short-tempered and demanding. Overdraft fees are a particular point of contention with customers. They will often argue with the teller in hopes of convincing him to reverse $38 in fees because of overspending as little as 20 cents. The teller seldom has jurisdiction to reverse such problems, causing more frustration for the customers. Other customers can be irritated if their money is not credited to their account fast enough, or for many other reasons. A teller must know how to put the customer at ease, or at the very least, tolerate her—even if the teller can do nothing to fix the problem.

Bank Robbers

Bank robbers are a very real problem for bank tellers, who must know how to handle the situation as calmly as possible. Bank robbers seldom make a scene of firing guns like in movies, but they are still very dangerous. Bank tellers are instructed to comply with every request of the robber, even if the robber appears unarmed and composed. Not complying by these rules can result in termination, as was the case for one bank teller in Seattle who chased and caught the robber. The Seattle Times explains that despite confronting and foiling the bank robber, the action put him and others at risk.

Balancing Efficiency and Accuracy

Bank tellers can struggle to balance efficiency and accuracy; when large sums of money are involved, a mere decimal point can make a huge difference. Though computers can provide how much cash to issue to a customer, correct data entry of numbers is critical to administering correct change and updating checking account amounts. Therefore, bank tellers should be able to do basic math functions quickly and accurately. Their 10-key (calculator) skills should also be strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that tellers must pay great attention to detail—deposits are double checked, checks must be verified in painstaking detail, and cash must be counted carefully.

About the Author

Since 2008 Catherine Capozzi has been writing business, finance and economics-related articles from her home in the sunny state of Arizona. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in economics from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, which has given her a love of spreadsheets and corporate life.