Monday, April 14, 2008


Got this story today from my brother, about a whiny old woman:

“Dear Sis Athana,

Below is an actual letter sent to a bank by an 86-year-old woman. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published in the New York Times:

Dear Sir:

I am writing to thank you for bouncing my check with which I endeavored to pay my plumber last month. By my calculations, three nanoseconds must have elapsed between his 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 entire pension, an arrangement which, I admit, has been in place for only eight years.

You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity, and also for debiting my account $30 by way of penalty for the inconvenience caused to your bank.

My thankfulness springs from the manner in which this incident has caused me to rethink my errant financial ways.

I noticed that whereas I personally answer your telephone calls and letters, --- when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal, overcharging, pre-recorded, faceless entity which your bank has become.

From now on, I, like you, choose only to deal with a flesh-and-blood person. My mortgage and loan repayments will therefore and hereafter no longer be automatic, but will arrive at your bank, by check, addressed personally and confidentially to an employee at your bank whom you must nominate.

Be aware that it is an offense under the Postal Act for any other person to open such an envelope. Please find attached an Application Contact 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.

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 modeled 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.

Let me 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 toilet in case I am attending to nature.
#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.
#10. This is a second reminder to press* for English. While this may, on occasion, involve a lengthy wait, uplifting music will play for the duration of the call.

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’
Frankly, I’m kinda buzzed out about people like this old woman. Always whining about how banks aren’t nice to her. Jeez! I mean, she’s just the customer! Banks and other Very Big Businesses aren’t around to kowtow to her!

Sure, in her day businesses made customers feel like the King. But that’s only cuz they had to. Back then, there were so many businesses -- all trying to sell the same thing -- that a dude HADDA kiss the customer’s foot -- or the customer’d go pop her wad at someone else’s store.

But then ol’ daddy Ronnie Reagan wrangled his way into the White House. Thankfully, Daddy let a few of his buds suck up all the competition. Now, today, there’s only one or two dudes owning everything. And they don’t have to suck up to anyone!

Now isn’t that the way life was meant to be? Aren’t we supposed to love our (Big) Brother?

Thanx to yusef of the moors for the foto; go HERE for more.


Morgaine said...

I once heard on a news show that the average cost to a bank of a returned check is 30 cents. Then they turn around and charge 30 dollars for it. That's quite a profit margin. Unfortunately, the people who are most likely to have to pay such a charge are those with the least money. Most of the people in danger of overdrawing their account don't have an extra 30 dollars, and one bounced check can set off a chain reaction costing several months and hundreds of dollars to resolve, which results in other charges and damage to one's credit. Why we as a culture tolerate usury and cruelty on this level is beyond me.

Athana said...

morgaine, I think what the doctor's ordering here is some good old fashioned trust-busting.

I looked up trust busting in Wiki, and found, unfortunately, only a stub. One of my elementary school teachers really pounded this word into my brain. It was the story of the good guys beating the bad guys into the ground.

According to Wiki, “Trust-busting is any government activity designed to break up trusts or monopolies. Theodore Roosevelt is the U.S. president most associated with dissolving trusts….”

At the end of the stub I added the following :

“Trust-Busting in the 21st Century
“Many Americans believe trust-busting is needed in 21st-century America. In the past few decades, much of the U.S. economy has again been taken over by monopolies. Competition for the consumer dollar is disappearing. Workmanship and services are becoming increasingly inferior. Americans are looking for politicians with enough courage to confront the big monopolies.”

May not last, since it's a bit more opinion-y than Wiki likes, but someone needs to bulk up this very important Wiki article.

Maybe we need to conjure up a Teddy Roosevelt egregore and get it to break up all the monopolies eating the world alive right now.

Morgaine said...

Trust busting is definitely what is needed, but I don't know if the anti-trust laws have any teeth these days. I think the whole Microsoft episode resulted in most of them being neutered.

Anonymous said...

yeah, but how does anyone or any group/company/organization make enough of a profit in order to survive, pay its employees, have health care benies. and what about all those folks who might just plain overspend (not the truly poor folks with children) and then just declare bankruptcy! i just think greed is everywhere, including those single folks who declare bankruptcy and dont repay what they really owe to others. then ALL of us really pay to cover THOSE greedy folks. do you agree?

Anonymous said...

Guess what! What your brother sent to you is just one of those urban legends. It never happened! It was a spoof in an article written in Australia by a man. (Also doubt your brother calls you Athana - you've already told us your real first name of Jeri when you put your reviews of your newest book in your blog) Go see to hear the history of this 2003 spoof.

Athana said...

morgaine, we need to start snarling about it and get some politician who wants to win fame and glory, to fight to get those laws rewritten.

I think we need to bring back that term "trust busting."

I think that would help.

Words can be powerful.

Athana said...

anon, who cares if this is a spoof? It's good! It gets right to the heart of what so many of us are feeling: Big Business has become a Big Monster that is eating us all alive.

I hear what you're saying. Life is tough for business owners too. But we're not talking about business owners here. We're talking about *monopolies."

Monopolies are crud-things that eat up businesses so they can call the shots on everything.

Healthy capitalism depends on us having lotsa businesses selling Widgets A, B and C, so that there's competition.

Say there are 20 companies selling Widget A. Who r u going to buy your widgets from? The company who makes the best widget A's, and who's also the nicest to you.

But then one company outa the 20 buys up the other 19 companies. Now there's only one company in the whole country selling Widget A's. *They* don't care whether they make good widget As or not. If you want a widget A, they've got the only ones in town.

And they don't care if you hafta wait on the phone 6 hours til they talk to you. What are you going to do? You're their prisoner. If you depend on Widget A's, you are their slave.

All because they bought up everyone else who made widget A's.

You can thank ol' Ronnie Reagan for this. He ripped the trust laws apart so's his buds could become Monopolizers and treat the people (and all small businesses as well) like slaves in the Roman Colliseum.