Most bank customers are not worried that the year-2000 computer bug will cause trouble with their bank accounts, a survey suggests.
Seventy percent of the consumer customers and 71% of the commercial customers surveyed for Hibernia National Bank of New Orleans in mid-November said they planned no unusual action involving their Hibernia accounts. Only 7% said they were "very concerned" about year-2000. Sixteen percent of the consumer customers and 22% of the commercial clients reported being "somewhat concerned," but most of these people said they were worried about nonbanking issues, such as overreaction by the public and availability of food and other necessities.
Three hundred three consumer and 97 business customers were questioned in the telephone poll of randomly chosen customers in Louisiana and Texas. The results were released this week.
The results showed that "a lot of people are not as concerned about Y2K as we originally thought," said Ben Gautreaux, senior vice president and year-2000 project manager at $15 billion-asset Hibernia. Most of the panic, he said Tuesday, is being felt by those who did not grow up in the computer age. "They fear the unknown and don't know what questions to ask."
Mr. Gautreaux credited the positive findings to educational programs Hibernia has conducted for employees and customers. It began holding year-2000 seminars in March, and "we've used every vehicle to reinforce to our staff what we are trying to do," Mr. Gautreaux said. The campaign included the real-life case of two Hibernia customers whose money was stolen after they removed it from the bank.
Hibernia had been "very concerned" that customers "would withdraw large sums of money," but no "sizeable numbers" of them have done so, Mr. Gautreaux said. In last month's survey, 11% of the consumers and 8% of commercial customers said they planned to withdraw extra cash.
Also, though 15% of the consumers surveyed and 16% of the commercial customers said they planned to hold on to their bank statements as a year-2000 safeguard, many of those customers had routinely saved them anyway, the research found.
Only four of the 400 customers surveyed said they planned to stop direct deposit.
When questioned about their specific banking concerns, 11% of the respondents said they feared records would be lost and 6% said they were concerned that their transactions would not be recorded.
"Most of our customers are satisfied with the progress of the banking industry and Hibernia," Mr. Gautreaux said.