Dear Bank Manager,
I am writing to thank you for bouncing the check with which I endeavored to pay my mortgage last month. By my calculations, three seconds must have elapsed between them presenting the check, and the arrival in my account of the funds needed to honor it. I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my salary, an arrangement that has only been in place for seven years.
You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account with $50 by way of penalty for the inconvenience I caused to your bank. My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to re-think my errant financial ways. You have set me on the path of fiscal righteousness.
No more will our relationship be blighted by these unpleasant incidents, for I am restructuring my affairs in the second half of 2003, taking as my model the procedures, attitudes and conduct of your bank. Please be advised about the following changes:
First, I have noticed that I personally attend to your telephone calls and letters, but when I try to contact you I am confronted by the impersonal, ever-changing, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become. From now on I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh and blood human being.
My mortgage payments will no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee of your branch, whom you must nominate and hold responsible. Be aware that it is a federal offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open the envelope.
Please find attached an Application, which I require our chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about them as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative. A Notary must notarize all copies of his or her medical history, and mandatory details of their financial life (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.
I will issue your employee a PIN number, which he or she must quote in all dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modeled it on the number of button presses required to access my account balance on your phone service.
Let me introduce you to my new telephone system, which you will notice, is very much like yours. My authorized contact at your bank may call me at any time and will be answered by an automated voice. By pressing buttons on the phone, he or she will be guided thorough an extensive set of menus:
Press 1. To make an appointment to see me.
Press 2. To query a missing payment
Press 3. To make a general complaint or inquiry.
Press 4. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there.
Press 5. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am still sleeping.
Press 6. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
Press 7. To transfer the call to my mobile phone in case I am not at home.
Press 8. To leave a message on my machine.
Press 9. To return to the main menu and listen to options 1 through 8 again.
The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my answering service and uplifting music will be playing.
We now come to the matter of cost. As your bank has often pointed out, the ongoing drive for greater efficiency comes at a cost. This is a cost that you have always been quick to pass on to me. Let me repay your kindness by passing some costs back. First, there is the matter of advertising material you send me. I will read them for a fee of $20 per page. Calls from your authorized contact will be billed at $5 per minute of my time spent in response. Any debits to my account, as, for example, in the matter of the penalty for the dishonored check, will be passed back to you.
My new phone service runs at two dollars a minute, so you would be well advised to keep your messages brief and to the point. I will also charge an establishment fee of $150.00 to cover the setting up of this new arrangement. I will need a cashiers check in advance before I take any more of your calls.
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