The other day, I received a birthday card from my bank. Though it was the only card I received, (family wishes excluded), I did not exactly whoop with joy.
I suppose this must be part of the Bank’s way of showing appreciation for the customer. (For the past almost 18 years, I have been a loyal customer of this Bank and almost all our loans and insurances are from them).
This is the draft of the letter I am thinking of sending to my Bank.
Dear Mr. Bank,
Thank you for the birthday card that you sent. I am sure the preprinted, pre computer signed, and pre addressed (and possibly pre posted?) card must have taken a lot of time and trouble for you.
Since you are in a giving mood, let me list a few things that I would really, really want from you.
1. I would like my Bank to reduce my interest rates on my loans, since you should know that I have never missed a payment in 18 years. Instead, you offer me a ridiculous rate on a car loan. I finally got financing at a much cheaper by another bank, with whom I had no credit history, in fact, no history of any kind at all.
2. I would like my Bank to stop sending me all those unsolicited offers of “pre-approved loans”. The money you save on this mailing should help you reduce my rates. And save the world a lot more trees.
3. I would like my Bank to have well trained and knowledgeable people mining your customer databases. These people should think hard about matching products with the right customer instead of mass mailing and hoping to strike some.
4. I want my Bank to stop issuing out credit cards in a way that can be described as almost reckless abandon. You may have credit card agreements that bind the holder from head to toe. However this strewing of “financial loaded guns” all over the place has a large role to play in the misery resulting from our young finding out too late about the “other side” of credit cards. I have children about to join the workplace. I do not want them to be seduced by these offers.
5. I would like my Bank to stop charging fees for machine transactions. ATM machines save money for the Bank. Why on earth you should charge people for saving you money, I am not sure.
6. I would like my Bank to be open on holidays and weekends. You should know that many of your customers have to work and the only time they can go to the Bank is on weekends and holidays. Surely, skeleton staffing on these days should not put the Bank into bankruptcy.
7. I want my Bank to draw up agreements for retail customers on the principal of “say what you mean and mean what you say”. Instead we see advertisements for “fixed rate for 20 years”, but the loan agreements (drawn up by your lawyers, but paid for by us) will have clauses that allow you to increase the rates at your will. (But never to reduce rates, mind you).
8. I want my Bank to be very careful about your big borrowers. Borrowers who occasionally take off part of country’s banking landscape when they fail. I want my Bank as well as my Bank’s lawyers to think hard about how to make the people behind these borrowers (as usually the borrowers are companies) suffer the same fate personally as those of us individuals do when we are foreclosed by a Bank.
9. I want my Bank to continuously review your systems and work on improving service to the customer. Look at banks outside our country, not just within our own backyard.
Well, Mr. Bank,
Whilst I am really grateful that you sent the birthday card, you can see that other things will make me a lot happier and make me “a walking ambassador and free advertising agent” for you.
Please think about this. Most probably the birthday card will be forgotten before the week is over, but any one of the 9 items above will be remembered for a long, long time.
cc: The children of Fathersez
I have learnt that loyalty to a profit motivated entity does not really pay. So pick your banks carefully. And feel free to change banks depending on the services you need.
All the Banks will insist on agreements which will be completely lopsided in their favour. Unfortunately this is a fact of life. As long as you have done your financial planning well, and have no intentions of cheating the Bank, you should not have to worry too much.
Hopefully, by the time you write letters like this to your children, Banks may have changed.
Let us hope by then the consumers of the world would have made sure that at least some of Papa’s 9 wishes are granted.