My dear Bank Manager, I am writing to thank you for bouncing the cheque
with which I endeavoured to pay my plumber last month.
By my calculations some three nano-seconds must have elapsed between his
presenting the cheque, and the arrival in my account of the funds needed
to honour it.
I refer, of course, to the automatic monthly deposit of my entire salary,
an arrangement which, I admit, has only been in place for eight years. You
are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also
debiting my account by way of penalty for the inconvenience I caused 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 1999, taking as my model the procedures,
attitudes and conduct of your very own bank.
I can think of no greater compliment, and I know you will be excited and
proud to hear it.
To this end, please be advised about the following changes.
First, I have noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone
calls and letters, when I try to contact you I am confronted by the
impersonal, ever-changing, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank
From now on I, like you, chose only to deal with a flesh and
My mortgage and loan repayments will, therefore and hereafter, no longer
be automatic, but will arrive at your bank by personal cheque, addressed
personally and confidentially to an employee of you branch, whom you must
You will 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 for Contact Status which I require
your chosen employee to complete.
I am sorry it runs to eight pages, but in order that I know as much about
him or her as your bank knows about me, there is no alternative.
Please note that all copies of his/her medical history must be
by a Justice of the Peace, and that the mandatory details of his/her
financial situation (income, debts, assets and liabilities) must be
accompanied by documented proof.
In due course I will issue your employee with a PIN number which he/she
must quote in all 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 to access my account
balance on your phonebank service.
As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Let me level the playing field even further by introducing you to my new
telephone system, which you will notice, is very much like yours.
My Authorised Contact at your bank, the only person with whom I will have
any dealings, may call me at any time and be answered by an automated
By pressing the buttons on the phone, he/she will be guided through an
extensive set of menus: 1) to make an appointment to see me, 2) to query a
missing repayment, 3) to make a general complaint or inquiry, and so on.
The contact will then be put onhold, pending the attention of my automated
While this may on occasion involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will
play for the duration. This month I have chosen the refrain from
The Best of Woody Guthrie:
Oh the banks are made of marble
With a guard at every door
And the vaults are filled with silver
That the miners sweated for!
After twenty minutes of that, our mutual contact will probably know it off
On a more serious note, we come to the matter of cost.
As your bank has often pointed out, the ongoing drive for greater
comes at a cost - a cost which 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.
This I will read for a fee of $20 per A4 page. Inquiries from your
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 dishonoured cheque, will be passed back to you.
My new phone number service runs at 75 cents per minute (even Woody Guthrie
doesn't come free), so keep your inquiries brief and to the point.
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, New Year.
Your humble client.