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#1
Old 11-02-2005, 10:45 PM
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Do bank tellers count money faster than normal people?

If so, what is their secret? Is it practice or do they have some special technique?
#2
Old 11-02-2005, 10:57 PM
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Damn, wrong forum. This was meant for General Questions.
#3
Old 11-02-2005, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lakai
If so, what is their secret? Is it practice or do they have some special technique?
Not in my experience - of course, I'm basing this on the typical way that tellers count the money back to me verbally.

Example (taking out 200 dollars): "20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 20, 40, 60, 80, 200"

This way is faster than counting like this: "20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120, 140, 160, 180, 200" but I've seen tellers do it that way also.

The fastest part (AFAIK) is that they have stacks prearranged - e.g. 5,000 worth of 100's; or 1,000 worth of 20's. That makes it easier for them from the get-go because it's a recount / check rather than a first-time count of an unknown amount of money.

If you just hand a teller a wad of cash, I think that they probably count it at the same rate as anyone who frequently handles money (like blackjack dealers, etc.)

- Peter Wiggen
#4
Old 11-02-2005, 11:05 PM
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(anticipating the move to GQ, but, anyway)

The first time I got a job that required handling a lot of cash was this past summer (working at a movie theater). I can say from experience that, the more often you need to count out stacks of bills, the faster you do it - it's just training your hands properly.

A further WAG: I'd bet that at a bank they're more likely to have new, fresh bills, which are infinitely easier to deal with than old, soggy ones.
#5
Old 11-02-2005, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NinjaChick
A further WAG: I'd bet that at a bank they're more likely to have new, fresh bills, which are infinitely easier to deal with than old, soggy ones.
Former bank teller here. I hated stacks of brand new bills because new bills tend to stick together and are hard to separate. Older bills that are not mutilated separate easily.

There is no trick to speed. It's just practice. If I received a wad of cash, I would separate it out by demonination, highest to lowest, and start counting. For example...

20 40 60 80 1 20 40 60 80 2 20 40 50 60 70 80 85 90 95 3 5 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 = $316

Counting cash coming in was faster than cash going out because I just counted to myself instead of counting it out to the customer. I could fly through thousands of dollars of incoming cash in a flash and I was able to pick out counterfeits in a split second, drop them from the stack onto the counter, and keep counting without losing pace. It was fun.

Counterfeits were confiscated, recorded, and sent to US Secret Service without a fuss. Whomever presented a counterfeit was just out-of-luck for whatever money they thought they had.
#6
Old 11-02-2005, 11:33 PM
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Oh... and a bank teller will frequently put all bills face up and facing the same direction because a good bank teller is able to count very quickly while paying attention to the following: (1) the number in the corner of the bill; (2) the face that appears on the bill corresponds to the proper denomination*; and (3) the texture and quality of the bill to spot counterfeits.

*to catch situations where someone glues the corner of a $20 bill onto the face of a $1 bill.
#7
Old 11-03-2005, 12:40 AM
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Moderator's Note: Shuffling this from Great Debates on over to General Questions.
#8
Old 11-03-2005, 12:55 AM
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My wife's a teller and although she does count money quickly she's used to counting it several times over. I often get frustrated and grab the money out of her hands because she seems to like counting it so much (our money, of course).

I think they're trained not to count money in the normal fashion though, ie: 20, 40 60 etc.

I can't seem to remember how she was taught to count money though. I'll ask tomorrow.
#9
Old 11-03-2005, 01:14 AM
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I'm not a bank teller, but I do count quite a lot of cash each and every day....I make the deposits for a small business. Without going into specific details, we'll say I count between 2000 and 10000 dollars each morning (several times to make sure I'm counting correctly) and that doesn't count making change for the cashiers (ie they need singles for their drawer, they need to break a 100 dollar bill) and working register from time to time on top of it all.) As others have said, alot of it comes down to practice, I've been doing it for years, so yes, I can count out say $3000 that's all in $20 bills and smaller in under 30 seconds without making a mistake. I'd have to say that there are tricks, but nothing secret, as others have said, make sure the money is all faced and sorted is a big one, also after a while you're hands kinda learn what to do to make the process faster (the less movement the better. I really only move my thumbs and they each move probably move about a 1/2 inch in either direction) and I don't always count the money by denomination (what I mean is, I know that 20 $5 bills is $100 or 50 $20 bills is $1000 so I tend to count by one's and go from there). So while their are tricks, it's nothing sepcial, it's just things that if you don't regularly count stacks of money you don't really have any reason to train yourself to count fast.
#10
Old 11-03-2005, 04:42 AM
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I was a fast-food restaurant manager for a couple years after high school. Yeah, it's practice.

If there's any secret trick, it's as said above: learn how to count to yourself in the fewest syllables possible so you don't slow your hands down to wait for your mouth.
#11
Old 11-03-2005, 08:48 AM
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It's practice plus technique. The technique is to hold the stack of bills in one hand and then pull them out, one at a time, onto the desk. Once you master that, you can count pretty fast.
#12
Old 11-03-2005, 09:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
It's practice plus technique. The technique is to hold the stack of bills in one hand and then pull them out, one at a time, onto the desk. Once you master that, you can count pretty fast.
Personally that slows me down by about 1/2, I'm much better off holding the stack of bills in my left hand, pusing the top bill over with my left thumb and grabing it with my right fingers bringing it from the top of the stack in my left hand to the bottom of the stack in my right hand, my left HAND doesn't move at all, just my thumb about a 1/2 inch in either direction, and my right hand moves back and forth about 1/2 inch or so. The less movement, the faster I can count, also counting, even in your head, will slow you down, so use small numbers whenever possible. ie when counting 20's it's 1..2..3.....49..50 <-$1000 etc.
#13
Old 11-03-2005, 12:37 PM
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When I was a bank teller we were always taught to count hand-to-table as well as hand-to-hand. Hand-to-table is more accurate, but slower. Another thing we were taught to do for accuracy is to "face" the bills -- arrange them so they are all facing this same way.

For large volumes we also had counting machines.
#14
Old 11-03-2005, 03:07 PM
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Bearflag, how common were counterfeits? And what denominations? I don't think I've ever seen a counterfeit bill in my life.
#15
Old 11-03-2005, 03:36 PM
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I was never a bank teller, but I had to count cash for a retail business (which was, at the time, cash only; no credit cards etc.). I was also a change attendant in a casino. In both cases, when I had to count cash by hand, I learned this way of counting:

1. Keep bills facing the same way always, and separated by denomination.

2. Count pieces of paper. (That is, 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.)

3. Multiply number of pieces by face value.

Using this method, I could count cash frighteningly quickly.
#16
Old 11-03-2005, 03:56 PM
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I was a control clerk at a McDonald's restaurant as a teenager, and I found that practice is really all there is to it.

In Japan, I've noticed that service people handling cash have a particular ritual which involves snapping the bills taut and counting them in two different directions (from the back, and then flipping them lengthwise to count them face up). It's kinda cool the first few times you see it, and I have to say that I haven't caught an error in change made for me in five years.
#17
Old 11-03-2005, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
Former bank teller here. I hated stacks of brand new bills because new bills tend to stick together and are hard to separate. Older bills that are not mutilated separate easily.
Ah, but if they are a stack of brand new bills then they are in serial number order, so it's just a matter of reading the top serial number, the bottom serial number and subtracting. First time I saw this was a guy on campus doing textbook buyback, and seemed to be counting the bills with miraculous speed and accuracy (he was so fast we all had to check the count) finally worked out his secret. Bank tellers probably aren't allowed to trust the federal reserve not to skip serial numbers though.
#18
Old 11-03-2005, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sal Ammoniac
Bearflag, how common were counterfeits? And what denominations? I don't think I've ever seen a counterfeit bill in my life.
I probably saw about one counterfeit bill everey few months or so. The most highly counterfeited denomination was $20, probably because a $20 is the largest denomination likley to "slip under the radar" without much scrutiny.
#19
Old 11-03-2005, 04:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevbo
Ah, but if they are a stack of brand new bills then they are in serial number order, so it's just a matter of reading the top serial number, the bottom serial number and subtracting. First time I saw this was a guy on campus doing textbook buyback, and seemed to be counting the bills with miraculous speed and accuracy (he was so fast we all had to check the count) finally worked out his secret. Bank tellers probably aren't allowed to trust the federal reserve not to skip serial numbers though.
Sometimes people would give me a huge stack of $1 bills. In the middle of the stack may be a bunch of brand new sequential bills that would stick together. I would have to unstick them to count them. Then, I would put the bills in my drarwer only to have to unstick them again when trying to hand the bills out to people. Pain in the butt.

Oftentimes what I would do is count the incoming bills, then I would have to stop when I got to the sticky part. I would separate the brand new bills by inserting older bills between them. It took a second but made life much easier.

Also, each bill had to be counted. No math based upon an assumption of serial numbers allowed.
#20
Old 11-03-2005, 04:59 PM
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I was a bank teller. They taught us to hold your left hand out, palm toward yourself. Make a fork with your pointer and ring finger below the stack of bills, and your middle finger over the top, covering the left side of Washington's face. Your left thumb slides the corner of each bill down as you count them, and your right thumb holds them back.

When we counted out the money for customers ("Telling out" as it was once called, hence the job name), we laid it in a fan on the counter, which, once the customer picked up, meant that they agreed with it. Nowadays I see tellers hand people stacks of bills which some slight of hand expert could claim was inaccurate.
#21
Old 11-03-2005, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearflag70
I probably saw about one counterfeit bill everey few months or so. The most highly counterfeited denomination was $20, probably because a $20 is the largest denomination likley to "slip under the radar" without much scrutiny.
Actually when the Loss Prevention guys gave us teller trainees their speech, they told us the $5 is the most counterfeited bill, and is usually passed at convenience stores rather than banks. Banks are a bad place to pass counterfeits because the tellers are so very accustomed to what real mony looks like and have lots of training and tools to detect fakes. Banks are more popular for laundering.

I had one suspected counterfeit in a summer of fulltime work. It turned out to be real (just printed during the Depression, hence the strange color) but I got a kick out of calling the Secret Service.

I worked for Chase Manhattan Bank in NYC.
#22
Old 11-03-2005, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Do bank tellers count money faster than normal people?
As nobody has mentioned it yet, allow me to point out that by and large bank tellers are normal people.
#23
Old 11-03-2005, 06:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again
Banks are a bad place to pass counterfeits because the tellers are so very accustomed to what real mony looks like and have lots of training and tools to detect fakes.

Many of the counterfeits were tucked in wads of cash being deposited at the bank by merchants.
#24
Old 11-03-2005, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
I was a bank teller. They taught us to hold your left hand out, palm toward yourself. Make a fork with your pointer and ring finger below the stack of bills, and your middle finger over the top, covering the left side of Washington's face. Your left thumb slides the corner of each bill down as you count them, and your right thumb holds them back.
That's how I was taught to do it when I worked at a bank. The woman who taught me used to work in a casino, where they apparently also handle large amounts of cash. Who knew?
#25
Old 11-03-2005, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hello Again
Actually when the Loss Prevention guys gave us teller trainees their speech, they told us the $5 is the most counterfeited bill, and is usually passed at convenience stores rather than banks.
In my 10 years of amsement park I saw about 15, most of them in a few month period. They were actually turning up in our arcade token dispensers. Some enterprising individual made some that fooled the bill acceptors. The readers were replaced with newer acceptor units that were not vulnerable to that type of counterfeit.

The ones in question were old optical ones that read a thin strip of the bill like a type of barcode. AFAIK nobody uses the optical ones much anymore due to this vulnerability
#26
Old 11-03-2005, 10:08 PM
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checking back....

My wife (the teller) says that they are trained to count 20s' as 2,4,6,8,10,12,14 etc and then add a zero onto the end of that. 10s' as 1,2,3,4...the same way.

She added that she doesn't count the way she was trained and that they always count at least twice.
#27
Old 11-03-2005, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slithy Tove
I was a bank teller. They taught us to hold your left hand out, palm toward yourself. Make a fork with your pointer and ring finger below the stack of bills, and your middle finger over the top, covering the left side of Washington's face. Your left thumb slides the corner of each bill down as you count them, and your right thumb holds them back.
Maybe I'm misreading it, but this sounds awkward and slow.
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