Musings: bankers

One has to seek amusement where one can, these days. For example, at one point fairly recently the search for (financial) scapegoats moved into the biochemical realm:


Still, the terribly nice chap in charge at one of the banks I now own 84% of (as a taxpayer) magnaminously waived his £2,400,000 annual bonus in the wake of the software troubles1 — viewed in a certain light, I suppose this would be funny. I seem to have a life-long propensity to leave certain businesses and banks a little before things go (to use a technical term) pear-shaped.

Perhaps I should buy a suit and start testosterone injections? Though I've left it a bit late to attend Eton and become a Tory. It's nearly a quarter of a century since I had the following little financial tale to relate to my friend Carol in New York:

Are banks and other financial institutions as stupid and as full of incompetent morons in America as they are over here? Last March, my bank serenely paid the 25th of 24 monthly payments (on the number two video recorder I was wearing out) to the store I got it from. (Wonderful, isn't it, the way they're so good at disbursing other people's money?) Anyway, I didn't latch on to this right away, of course, since they only send bank statements when it suits them, not you. So, come late April, your hero finds himself £28-77 shorter than usual, though it doesn't take the organic Cray too long to realise what has happened. As my beautifully-written clear exposition of events wings its way to the bank that night, however, a rather terse epistle is already on its way to me from the store suggesting that I contact the bank to tell them to cease and desist their overpayments. (The store was at that point slightly more on the ball than the bank.)

To cut an unbelievigable (sic) exchange of letters and phone calls down to a reasonable size for VNET, I ended up with an electronic refund from the bank, and a paper refund from the store, both of which went into my account. (The bank insisted I should pay the cheque in; the store insisted I should accept their cheque.) And this after pleading with each institution that I was making a profit on the deal and that something, therefore, was surely amiss? Each side reckoned only they were right, and that the others must surely be of unfruitful sexual habits that were destined not to lead to population problems.

Today was the day of reckoning. As we're now in the middle of a postal strike (caused by arguments about the employment of casual workers to clear the backlog from last week's one-day token stoppage!) I had a phone call from the bank. Please can they raid my account to the tune of £28-77? But, say I, I told you so back in April. Ah, say they, I don't know who you spoke to Mr Mounce, but they were surely wrong and the books don't balance and, unless you cough up, Brazil might also decide to default and all hell will surely break out throughout the entire banking system of the Western world. Oh very well, say I, but don't take any more, will you?!

Date: 7 September 1988

The bank in question — of course — was the one now prepared to hand out that £2,400,000 annual bonus.



1  Whose root cause has been linked to the aggressive bean-counting that led inevitably to enthusiastic out-sourcing of a couple of thousand IT staff to what used to be known as the Third World (before it got renamed as 'BRIC').