Your banker is your friend.
No; it’s true. Honest. They worry and fret about your welfare and if you should wander into the red, then they want to advise, comfort and soothe you immediately.
Take this full page letter (five paragraphs) that I received from Allied Irish Bank this morning –from the Central Arrears in Dublin all the way out to little old Oranmore, if you don’t mind.
It was ‘to advise that your above account has been overdrawn in excess of/without an approved limit and this matter requires your immediate attention.
‘It is important that you arrange a suitable lodgement to restore your account to credit/within the approved limit. Alternatively, please contact your Branch to discuss a more appropriate arrangement for you.’
Bloody Hell, must be serious, I thought. All I could take in were threatening sounding phrases such as:
“Items returned unpaid attract an unpaid item fee of €10.00.”
“Excess balances attract a surcharge rate of interest, at present 12% per annum (variable) in addition to the annual interest rate applicable to the account. You may also incur a referral charge of…”
And on and on and on.
So: – Was I guilty of Sean Fitzpatrick sized debts? Had I been sharing pints in the Olde Brewerey with David Drumm on the sly?
Was I single-handedly responsible for bringing down the Irish economy?
How much exactly WAS I overdrawn?
No, you’re not reading that incorrectly. It wasn’t €5,005.05. It wasn’t €505.05. It wasn’t even €50.05.
It was FIVE EUROS AND FIVE BLOODY CENTS.
Remember when we were forced (under duress, cover of darkness and – oh yeah, not given a choice in the matter) to bail out these chancers? Remember that we were laughingly told that in effect we owned the banks?
This is the reality. A gentle phone call would never do. It has to be an official looking-and-sounding full page missive from the Central Arrears to put the frighteners on you. And this is the way that they DO terrify older people, or perhaps those who are just afraid of dealing with banks.
After all, the financial institutions of Ireland are not here to help you; they are here to grind you into the ground.
They don’t like it that over the past few years the person in the street has sussed out that these ‘top banker’ types know no more than they do. And often a great deal less. They’ve probably had a high-level meeting where they decided that the best way to get their credibility back is to start bullying and shouting at the top of their voices again.
You know, I’ve been an AIB customer for 35 years. That has covered really good times and some really bad ones. They have loved me when I was on a roll and not so much when I was on my uppers.
And let’s be honest, this just happens to be the AIB, when in fact it could be any of them.
But seriously? Five Euros and Five cents? For this you printed out paper, wasted an envelope and bought a stamp?
Ah, well. I’m sure I’ll get charged for that into the bargain.