Checks are no longer in the mail for about 10,000 Californians a day who are getting new state-issued Visa debit cards to access disability benefits.
The California Employment Development Department expects to have the cards in the hands of 400,000 people by March. The cards will give recipients faster, more secure access to their cash at Bank of America network ATMs.
The switch enables recipients to have their benefits directly deposited into bank accounts and to avoid check-cashing fees. There also are no fees charged for using network ATMs and for making up to two transactions weekly with out-of-network machines.
"Once we get all of our disability and paid-family-leave insurance customers switched over to the more convenient debit cards, we will work to transition the much larger unemployment insurance program in June," EDD Chief Deputy Director Pam Harris said.
Eventually, the state will stop issuing checks for all the the employment-related programs, Harris said.
The new program is being put into place at no cost to the state: Bank of America is covering its costs by charging fees to participating merchants that honor the new California cards.
The state expects to save about $4 million annually in printing, paper and postage costs once the debit card program if fully operational.
Auto commercials on the Super Bowl XLV broadcast had mixed results in generating interest in the products they were pitching, according to auto information company Edmunds.com.
Chrysler and Volkswagen had the biggest increase in people searching Edmunds.com after the broadcast of the advertisements; Chevrolet, Hyundai and the German luxury auto brands had less success.
Chrysler aired a two-minute “Imported From Detroit” ad during the third quarter that used singer Eminem to make the case that Chrysler, working in the heart of America, can put out cool vehicles.
Edmunds.com said traffic for the Chrysler brand shot up 267% in the hours after the commercial aired, including a 1,619% spike for the new Chrysler 200.
“Chrysler’s ad reaffirmed the company’s loyalties to Detroit in an emotionally powerful way, and it looks like viewers responded to that message in a major way,” said Michelle Krebs, an Edmunds.com analyst.
Volkswagen also scored with commercials for the Beetle and the Passat. Traffic rose 271% for the Beetle after the computer-animated ad aired in the fourth quarter. The Passat, whose second-quarter ad featuring a child dressed like Darth Vader who attempts to use "the force" to manipulate various objects, including the new Passat, saw its traffic surge 114%.
Chevrolet and Hyundai had comparatively modest traffic gains after their commercials.
Meanwhile, traffic for the Audi A8 rose only 14% after its “Release the Hounds” ad in the first quarter, while Edmunds.com measured no lift at all for BMW after the “Defying Logic” ad for the X3 in the second quarter.