Below is an actual letter
sent from Australia to a U.S. bank. The bank found it amusing enough
to publish in the New York Times in 1999.
[Edited letter for length. ]
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 nanoseconds 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 seven or
eight 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. No more will our relationship be blighted by
these unpleasant incidents, for I am restructuring my affairs in 2000,
taking as my model the procedures, attitudes and conduct of your very
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 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 cheque, addressed personally and
confidentially to an employee of your branch, whom you must nominate.
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 Contact Status for your chosen employee to complete. It
runs to eight pages in order that I know as much about him or her as
your bank knows about me. 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 phone bank service.
Let me level the playing
field even further by introducing you to my new telephone system,
which is very much like yours. My Authorised Contact at your bank may
call me at any time and will be answered by an automated voice. By
pressing buttons on the phone, s/he will be guided the following set
1. To make an appointment
to see me.
2. To query a missing repayment.
3. To make a general complaint or inquiry.
4. To transfer the call to my living room.
5. To transfer the call to my bedroom in case I am sleeping.
6. To transfer the call to my toilet in case I am attending to nature.
7. To transfer the call to my mobile phone in case I am not at home.
8. To leave a message on my computer. To leave a message, a password
to access my computer is required. Password will be communicated at a
9. To return to the main menu and listen carefully to options 1
through 8. The contact will then be put on hold, awaiting my automated
answering service, which should not often exceed twenty minutes.
Now comes the matter of
cost. As your bank has often pointed out, the ongoing drive for
greater efficiency 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 page. Inquiries from your nominated 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 service
runs at 75 cents a minute, so you would be well advised to 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.