Movie Gallery Moving to Paperless Payroll1 Aug, 2002 By: Holly J. Wagner
Movie Gallery is pushing paper -- right out the door.
The nation's third-largest video rental dealer has launched a paperless payroll system for store-level employees, the MeGA Pay card.
The video chain is the latest national retailer to adopt the payroll card from Comdata Corp., which also provides the service to Sears and manages the gift card program at No. 2 rentailer Hollywood Video.
The paperless payroll is a win-win situation, because it will save Movie Gallery at least $150,000 a year in payroll processing and delivery costs while ensuring that employees are paid on time, according to Jim Pongonis, Movie Gallery VP of human resources.
With the MeGA Pay card, funds are loaded to employee cards immediately on an employer-determined schedule, with adjustments and funds distribution in real time. Payroll managers have access to payroll and payment distribution reports on a secure Web page and can activate and deactivate cards at any time for a secure alternative to paper checks.
“The overnight packages we now ship out every two weeks to the stores go away,” Pongonis said. “This is an electronic download. What we do is download a file to Comdata, the file has the net pay for each individual. Comdata loads it onto their card or, if they have direct deposit, deposits it in their account.”
Movie Gallery started rolling out the new program in stores near its Dothan, Ala., headquarters in March, and Pongonis expects to add two districts per pay period through October, when all U.S. Movie Gallery stores will use the system. Although he didn't survey employees formally about the service, he said it's been well received.
“We have rolled this out to five of our  regions and have had very little negative feedback,” he said.
For employees, it offers greater flexibility. The card can be used as an ATM card for cash at Cirrus ATMs and for debit purchases, with the cash back option, wherever the MasterCard Maestro network is offered.
“They've got three or four ways they can get their money,” Pongonis said. “They can get it at a POS, in a check or direct deposit if they have that. If they want to put part of it in a bank account and keep part on the card, they can do that. They can use it at an ATM.
“For somebody who doesn't have a bank account, it gives them a check that they can pay their rent and bills with. It gives the associate a lot more options about where and when they can get their money.”
The system also simplifies payroll issues for employers with high turnover common to service occupations like retail and fast food, said Comdata spokesman Mike Brewer, because final pay can be issued immediately.
It also helps recent immigrants access their money without opening new bank accounts. “There is a big Hispanic population moving into this country,” Brewer said. “Often they either don't have a banking relationship in this country or they simply can't get bank accounts because most banks are doing credit checks now.”