Below is an actual letter that was 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.
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 cheque, 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.
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 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:
IMMEDIATELY AFTER DIALING, PRESS THE STAR (*) BUTTON FOR ENGLISH
#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.
A 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.
And remember: Don’t make old people mad. We don’t like being old in the first place, so it doesn’t take much to piss us off.
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Helga is the proprietor of a bar. She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can no longer afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later. Helga keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers’ loans).
Word gets around about Helga’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Helga’s bar. Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in town. By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands Helga gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer – the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Helga’s gross sales volumes and paper profits increase massively. A young and dynamic vice-president at the local bank recognizes that these customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Helga’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern, since he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral. He is rewarded with a six-figure bonus. At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKBONDS. These “securities” are then bundled and traded on international securities markets.
Naive investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them, as “AA Secured Bonds” are really debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses. The traders all receive a six-figure bonus.
One day, even though the bond prices are still climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Helga’s bar. He so informs Helga. Helga then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons but, being unemployed alcoholics, they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since Helga cannot fulfill her loan obligations she is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Helga’s 11 employees lose their jobs.
Overnight, DRINKBOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community. The suppliers of Helga’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the BOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations; her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.
Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi-billion dollar no-strings attached cash infusion from the government. They all receive six a figure bonus. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who’ve never been in Helga’s bar.