In October, Bird and Bills had a post about the ING Direct Cafe. I commented that I had been to the one in Chicago and would write a post about it. About 6 weeks later, I’m finally getting around to it…
About six months ago I noticed that an ING Direct Cafe opened up just off of the Magnificent Mile in Chicago. At that time I didn’t have a chance to run in. A few months later I was running errands and around that area and also needed to make a deposit into my ING Direct account. I decided that a visit to the cafe was in order.
Before I went, I went to the ING Direct website to find out what it was all about. They have a page dedicated to the cafes, and I learned that there were also cafes in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Wilmington (that’s in Delaware). Also on that page is a coupon for a free coffee, just for being a member. Free coffee? How am I supposed to get my latte factor on?
First off, here’s a view of the outside. It’s pretty hard to miss.
On the inside, there’s what looks like a normal coffee bar.
The weird thing about the cafe is that all of the baristas are also bankers! You can order a latte and make a deposit, and the people behind the counter can do both. Another weird quirk is that deposits aren’t really processed there…they are mailed off to a processing center in Minnesota (I think, it’s been a few months since I’ve been there). So if you deposited money there, they’d have to mail it off to the processing center, and you’d still have to wait to have it post to your account.
They baristas were nice and friendly, and were indeed knowledgeable about all of ING Direct’s products. After hearing that they didn’t do anything I couldn’t do own my on on their website, I ended up getting my free coffee and taking a seat to relax a bit, where they had various finance magazines on display for customers to read.
While I was there, I took advantage of their computers with internet access to check if there were any comments on this site. I also did the banking on their website that I wanted to do at their counter.
All in all, it is a pretty neat place. For someone with above average financial knowledge, this place is pretty much a gimmick, as evidenced by their awesome ING Direct motorcycle.
I think that their goal is to make people aware of their services in a non-traditional way. After walking by there the other night, I think it is working; there were many in the place who were enjoying coffee and reading. I think that this method of getting people to be more aware of their finances and saving is great. Since I practically lived at coffee shops when I was in college, it may have been what I needed to persuade me to start saving and paying attention to my finances at an earlier age. Or just drink more coffee.