Paying your banker back in his own coin | Page 2 | Daily News

Paying your banker back in his own coin

Personally I don’t care much for banks or bankers. In fact, I really don’t give a darn for those Old Scrooges sitting on piles of banknotes and wealth. They become so impersonal after you deposit your hard-earned dough with them. They keep annoying me all the time even though I am not overdue on my credit cards or any repayments. Just the other day one bank called me and told me that I had to pre-approve a credit card upgrade. And what the heck, I didn’t even apply for an upgrade. Okay so they want me to increase my credit limit and make me spend more.

Whatever happened to the savings habit banks used to promote? Isn’t penny-pinching frugality part of the banking ethic? But if you actually delve into your relationship with your banker you will realise that it’s really darn difficult to talk to your modern-day Shylock. Personal banking my foot! You can’t even get close to their ear on the buzzer. And when you eventually do, the conversation would be like the Mad Hatter trying to talk to the March Hare.

Okay, Okay I will explain it in simpler terms. You want to talk to your banker. Or the guy or gal assigned to you as your personal banking officer. You are immediately connected to an aloof automated telephone voice system. Then you wait and listen to a cold unemotional voice saying: “All our operators are busy at this moment ... please wait.”

Now I am holding the blasted phone to my ear and waiting interminably 15-20 minutes. That is a heck of a long time. Indeed, a time I could have spent bashing out an article of this nature and completing it as well. And then I have to listen to the most annoying call-waiting music ever. It’s the same guy singing rap and repeating the lyrics: “I wanna yai yai yah. I wanna yai, yai ya!” Now if I could get my hands on the guy’s throat I would without compunction strangle the daylights out of him and his Yai yai yah! The musical interlude is broken intermittently while the distant ghostly recorded voice starts again: “All our operators are busy at this moment ... please wait.”

Finally I have to verify myself and my existence by answering 20 highly secured questions. What was the maiden name of my grandmother? Exasperated by this time I tell them that if my grandmother had remained a maiden she certainly would not have been my grandmother. Besides what the heck has my ancestry and my dear departed ‘Aachchie’ have to do with my standing as a customer. Then I have to key in my telephone pin number and disclose my date of birth.

So now I have had it up to my neck as well. So while waiting I thought I’d draft a quick letter to the bank’s top honcho himself. So here goes: Dear Mr. Money-Bags Holder. I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, that when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, over-charging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, will choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person, not a soulless, faceless, cold voice. My credit card repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by cheque, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offence under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contract which I require your chosen employee to complete. I am sorry it runs into 12 pages, but in order that I know as much about him or her as your bank knows about me. You see you have left me with no alternative.

Please note that all copies of his or her medical history must be countersigned by a Notary Public, and the mandatory details of his/her financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be accompanied by documented proof.

In due course, at my convenience, I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she must quote in dealings with me. I regret that it cannot be shorter than 28 digits but, again, I have modelled it on the number of button presses required of me to access my account balance on your phone bank service. As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Now, allow me to level the playing field even further. When you call me, press buttons as follows:

#1. To make an appointment to see me: #2. To query a missing payment: # 3. To transfer the call to my living room in case I am there. # 4. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.

# 5. To transfer the call to my washroom in case I am showering. # 6. To transfer the call to my mobile phone if I am not at home.

#7. To leave a message on my computer, a password to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated to you at a later date to that Authorized Contact mentioned earlier. # 8. To return to the main menu and to listen to options 1 through 7. # 9. To make a general complaint or inquiry. The contact will then be put on hold, pending the attention of my automated answering service.

While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music such as that of the smooth and suave Dean Martin kind will play for the duration of the call.

I also observe your bank has a new image. ‘Now you have a friend’ ... your friendly banker’. Friendship, old Chappie, is based on trust. If your bank is so friendly and trusting, how come you chain down the pens to the counters? Well it is clear you don’t trust me, although your legend proclaims that you are a friend. Indeed, in that case I will certainly be quite willing to reciprocate that same type of friendship and trustworthiness as displayed by you.

And there was another of your ads which proclaimed: ‘Don’t borrow from your friends - borrow from us. You’ll lose your friends. You’ll never lose us.’ It seems quite unfortunate that the person who writes your bank’s advertising doesn’t also approve the loans.

I am seriously thinking of withdrawing all my ‘moolah’ and going back to traditional home banking. Surely, the safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your own pocket. Yes siree money can’t buy friends, but the way you are going about it you can surely get a better class of enemy.

By the way I was also wondering if bankers can actually count. How come most of your branches always have ten counters and two tellers? And talking about tellers I prefer automated tellers to your real ones. They usually have more personality. Regrettably, but again following your example, I must also levy an establishment fee to cover the setting up of this new arrangement. May I wish you a happy, if ever so slightly less prosperous weekend.

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