HUH? They changed the wording on the ATM machine at my bank.
After I stuck the card in the slot, it said: "Do you wish to have advice?"
I pressed “Yes” but didn’t get any.
I expected a little voice to say: "You again?! Listen mate, you REALLY shouldn't be taking out any more money this month.”
I mentioned this in the bar that night.
My mentor/ bartender explained: “The logic and vocabulary of bankers is quite different from that of humans.”
His words rang true.
The next morning I quickly found five examples in my files of Financial Communications Which Make You Go “Huh?”
1. A friend of mine contacted a major bank asking to borrow $300,000 to refurbish his restaurant.
The reply: “If you deposit $300,000, you can borrow 95 per cent of this sum."
He was puzzled by this.
“If I already had $300,000, surely I could lend it to myself?”
2. A financial analyst complained that there was “no valuation of cash holdings” in a document released by a listed company.
I quoted this in one of my columns, and got an instant reply from an accountant.
“As a truly independent valuation firm, we would like to offer our services. In fact, I will do the valuation certificate myself, for free. They just have to let me know how much cash there is."
3. A reader got a letter from one of the world’s biggest banks.
"We write to advise you that our records showed that withdrawals from your above-mentioned account had exceeded the available balance by seventy-five cents," it said.
A telephone number was kindly provided in case he needed advice on raising this sum.
The stamp on the letter was 80 cents.
4. Another major bank sent out a leaflet to customers with a question on the front:
"Do you know how to get the most from an ATM?"
A reader wrote back, copying his reply to me:
"I would have thought a two-ton truck and an oxy-acetylene torch would do the trick."
5. A friend in the advertising business got a stern letter in which her bank manager scolded her for not being deeply enough in debt.
“If there is no improvement in the next review, we may consider to impose a commitment fee of 1/2 per cent per annum on the undrawn balance of your facility," it said.
The “undrawn balance” refers to the bank’s cash she hasn’t spent. In other words, they were demanding interest payments on money she HADN’T borrowed.
Amazing! Can non-financial people do this trick?
There are literally thousands of companies which haven’t borrowed money from me.
I have already drafted the letter.
“Dear Citibank, you have not borrowed ten million dollars from me. I may impose a charge on this sum of two per cent per annum on this sum.”
That would be $200,000 a year—neat, huh?
I only know of one occasion where a bank wrote a letter which sounded like it was composed by a human.
A friend of mine owed more and more cash to his bank.
ON OTHER MATTERS…. I met my reader! I knew she existed! Proof at last.