Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Loss of human touch

Hi Mr Tan,

The email below may be amusing, but this is also happening in Singapore in the name of efficiency and productivity. I found this to be cold and the banks and government departments have lost their human touch for the customers and people.

I would like to read your comments or suggestions on this matter in your blog as matter of public interest.

Shown 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.

Dear Sir:
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 check, 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:

#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. 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
(Remember: This was written by an 86 year old woman)


Anonymous said...

this isn't an actual letter according to snopes:


G C said...

This was very true all over the world. I, a Malaysian also experienced exactly the same. My bank bank statement for that did not shown any deficit in fund but it was a matter then fund come in later than the money need to pay out from the same account that was matter to the bank. For that I was charge RM100.00. This was how banks made their huge profit and pay out astronomical bonus to the CEO and staffs like that.

As to the phone machine, it was the trend and we waste time to listen to machined voices. The human seem available nowaday.

I felt strongly for the American retiree as 30 US could be a lot to her. The world is losing its human touch and the world may be ending soon too.

G C Tham


Anonymous said...

Calling in to Singtel is something like that and you never get to talk to a human being.
On second thought if it is to buy a financial product, assuming you are savvy person, I think it is a perfect set up. You are not in danger of being pushed a product that is inappropriate to you but to the human being.

Anonymous said...

The fat cat bankers are paid huge bonuses for coming out with these kind of tactics. They forgot to patent it for their exclusive use. By the way, in the past I used to Giro my payments on an annual basis to NTUC Income for my insurance payments. Now, I have cancelled the Giro and go down every month to pay cash so I can monitor closely what is happening and complain every month at the slightest wrongdoing. Alas, it is not working very well as even the managers try to play taichi by saying they are not in control or in charge. I guess this system of the CEO hiding behind his desk and making sure nobody gets to talk to him while delegating it to his incompetent underlings is working well for him.

Anonymous said...

Giro? nowadays anything can go wrong.
ntuc is only interested in new business so that they can be #1. Who cares about the old ones like yours? If you lapse there is always the orphan money you leave behind so that they can use to spend on overseas incentive trip , Beiji next year for their greedy agents.At least 2 million is needed for this annual bash with agents an families.

Anonymous said...

Yes, so it is heads they win and tails we lose. There is always the new blur policyholders who did not know any better until decades later. What is the world coming to? What is NTUC coming to?

Anonymous said...

ntuc under a new industry practice compliant management is steering the company away from cooperative principles. It is now only in names and of course someone will come out to say something about their social enterPrice from time to time to bull their greedy agents who have forgotten the hands that fed them and their family and who sent their children to university. What is it coming to? Gone to the dogs like the rest of the industry. Unless MAS deals with them like the loan sharks, the property agents, the doctors these problems will never go away. They must be nipped in the bud or butts.

Anonymous said...

Report the agents to MAS for the way they peddled and dumped those high commission products on unwary policyholders and old folks.

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