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Begging letter April 14, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

When I write to my bank, there is normally very little for them in what I suggest and, potentially, a whole lot for me. Or, rather, potentially nothing for me, but that’s at least better than the something for them which I am writing to ask them not to take. Occasionally I might post them a cheque, which perhaps they get minorly thrilled about. But, usually, it’s just a letter saying, “Thank you for your letter. Please don’t charge me whatever it is you’ve written to tell me you’re going to charge me for.”

Do you know, the queer thing is, it normally works. I don’t much use the bank account I still have in the UK. I don’t often work for folk based there any more but when I do, and when they decide to pay, the money goes to that bank account. As I am perma-skint, I tend to use every penny I am ever paid. The balance on my UK account must average about 37p. If money goes in there, I carefully research the exchange rate and take the roundest euro amount allowed, factoring in the couple-of-quid charge, and hope that this won’t accidentally put me 14p overdrawn as then the bank will start sending pissy letters.

So I went 14p overdrawn again. Perhaps this pisses the bank off. Perhaps they see me as the quite naughty boy in class who just can’t resist being naughty. “I didn’t mean it,” I might write, in my defence. On the other hand, I don’t actually owe the establishment any money. I’ve had the account with them for 400 years. I explain, honestly, that I am expecting more money and the account will be back in credit (for about 18 nanoseconds) soon.

Promptness is key when writing begging letters to your bank. And I’ve foiled my own tactics on more than one occasion by choosing not to open letters that come with the bank’s familiar type-face. Spring just about appearing has made me change jackets and I’ve just discovered a number of letters threatening trouble which have gone nicely unopened for a good few months. Must have been empty threats. I’m still here and can remember nothing especially dramatic happening on the financial front for ages. No-one’s been kidnapped and held to ransom. I haven’t had a single letter written in bits cut out of newspapers.

In any case, I must have been in a brave mood when the last letter came. I opened it immediately and saw I was going to be charged some amount of money – they explained the arithmetic, but I’d fallen asleep by the time I got to the end of the spiel – because their charges had put me overdrawn. The letter I fire back is stored in my computer. I change the dates, change the amount they’re planning to charge me, and send it off saying, in a way that no doubt makes their hearts bleed, “…awfully sorry. But be a good bunch and don’t charge me what would be a ton of money for me. I didn’t mean it. Honest.” They first reply with a standard, “Sorry that you have felt the need to complain,” when I haven’t complained. I have grovelled, “and someone from the complaints department will contact you forthwith.” And then the letter comes saying, “…as a good will gesture, we have decided, on this occasion not to…” I high-five myself and think of how next to be feckless.

The computer happened to be off last time I needed to write and grovel. Quickly biffed off a hand-written grovel instead. And my formula went right out the window. Couldn’t remember the heart-rending turn of phrase I normally used. And decided humour and topicality were called for. “I know I have a credit rating that would have Robert Mugabe laughing in pity,” I began, “but, be good chaps. Have I ever lied to you in all the time we’ve been together? Have I? There’s money on its way. And it’s only 14p. For fuck’s sake. Honestly.”

The fine was debited form my account just as they promised it would be. Humourless old so-and-sos.



1. suburbanlife - April 14, 2008

It really cheezes me off when folks in power can’t tell the difference between ‘complaining’ and ‘groveling’. And I love it that you used the word, ‘feckless’, a great word so seldom used these days. Thanks for the good chuckle this dreary monday morning. We too are awaiting word from our bank today, supplicants for their largesse. Pfuie! G

2. Mangonel - April 14, 2008

14p? 14p?!?

No wonder they are after every last little bit of your blood. What you need to do is get SO FAR into debt with them that they have to be nice to you otherwise you won’t pay them back.

Try at least a quarter of a million pounds. That should have THEM grovelling.

3. ThePenguin - April 14, 2008

BiB, you realise the banks need every penny they can get right now, having blown most of their own savings on that subprime monopoly thing? In fact there are probably besuited merchant bankers in the City right now unable to afford a line of coke, let alone the Lamborghini to snort it off.

4. BiB - April 14, 2008

Penguin, I actually solled, or snorted(though not coke)-out-loud, at your comment. Oh dear, do I have to now make myself feel sorry for types who used to set fire to fivers? (Did that ever happen or is it an urban myth? The only money-burning moment I’ve seen is when Serge Gainsbourg burnt one of those very pretty old 500FF notes live on French TV. Scandal of the century.)

Mango, I mostly curse myself for not having a growing-up gene but can’t help wondering if this isn’t a bad time to be plodding along in a very ungrown-up way, economically, which is what I always do. Hand-to-mouth, my mother calls it, derisively. I feel fantastically wealthy if the note-bit of my wallet has 5 euros in it. Still, it’s a very good thing that I am fantastically unlikely to have children. At least my non-grown-upness doesn’t (yet) affect others (too) badly.

Suburbanlife, hello and thrilled to meet you. Actually thrilled because I have had a good old gawp at your blog and your blogroll and you come from, to me, completely uncharted blogging territory. A new world. (I don’t mean Canada. Canada looms very large in my blogging world.) But you have now laid the foundation slab for a new blogging yellow-brick-road which I’m just about to start skipping down. Thank you and welcome.

5. oyebilly - April 14, 2008

If they don’t know the difference between complaining and grovelling, I’m a shoe-in.

I like the idea of having a stored letter to send out instantly. I might do that myself.

6. annie - April 14, 2008

It’s DAYLIGHT ROBBERY. Next time, mention the Ombudsman – I don’t know who he is but they are frightened of him, for some reason. Works for me.

7. BiB - April 14, 2008

Billy, it certainly saves time. But of course I recommend that you are never as silly with money as I am, and I’m sure you’re not. But, honest guv, I don’t know whether I’m exceptionally lucky, yet they can really be quite reasonable, or lenient, if you write and just say, “Oh, please sir, don’t be nasty to me.”

Right, I’ve got my technical head on. A link to your site doesn’t appear when you comment, which means you haven’t inserted your url somewhere on your profile. Or are you being come-and-find-me-ish, you dirty old rascal?

Annie, you see how I was brought up to be scared of everything? My natural, fall-back, default position is to think they’re incredibly kind for not fining me for having gone overdrawn as a result of their charges in the first place. I think it is very unlikely that I will ever occupy a position of power. (And praise be for that.)

8. GreatSheElephant - April 14, 2008

hmm, interesting. I must remember this technique.

I’m very bad at opening my post but I invariably find that if I miss a deadline, I simply have to say that the letter has only just arrived and they believe me because Royal Mail is not that reliable these days.

9. BiB - April 14, 2008

…but GSE, remember not to make any reference to Zimbabwe or the political news stories of the day. It backfired big-time. Well, or sort of small-time. I suppose I could threaten to take my custom elsewhere, but they’d probably say, “Yeah? See if we care.” My sister had a temp-job at one point which was sorting out refunds to the 80 gazillion people who’d demanded their bank pay back charges and I think the bank caved in. Maybe worth a shot. I once told the credit card folk I didn’t want something I saw they’d been charging me for for ever – some insurance or other – and they refunded it.

Everyone, write to your banks today and ask for money. (Though not in loan form.)

10. Marsha Klein - April 14, 2008

We once exceeded our overdraft limit. Sorry, that should of course read:
Once, having exceeded our overdraft limit YET AGAIN, due to a couple of piddling transactions for a few quid each, we were horrified to find that the bank intended to charge us £50 for EACH transaction! I think, on that occasion, Brian fired off one of his “Outraged of Tunbridge Wells” letters (odd, given that we live in Edinburgh) and that did the trick. But really, what is the point of an overdraft LIMIT if they then honour cheques which take you over it?


11. BiB - April 14, 2008

Marsha, I must have told you (sing. and plural) about when my ex had two cheques bounced, for a total of about 50 quid, and was fined 50 quid. He rang the bank, not being scared of people, and spoke to his manager, aged 4, and when the manager nasally refused to relent, the ex told him he would now have to go out and mug old ladies. “Well, I hope you won’t do that, Mr. Ex,” said the 4-year-old bank manager, who has since presumably had a flourishing career within Nu Labour.

12. narrowback - April 15, 2008

with yank banks (or are they even that anymore? Chase comes to mind) I’ve found that low key indignant anger works far more effectively than sob stories or references to long term customer/vendor relationships… i did once threaten to picket a local branch with a handmade sign stating “This Bank Steals Your Money – Ask Me How” which proved exceptionally effective in gaining access to the proper level of management.

13. zoeleon - April 15, 2008

Greetings from Madrid where, oh, oh, I have a bank story… To the first bank I walked into, I explained the quantities of dollars and euros that I wish to deposit (well, yes, I did exaggerate, rather, but they won’t find that out for some time now, as it will take me ages to arrange these international transfers). Oh my, oh my, can you believe that when I asked about fees and interest rates, they told me we would NEGOTIATE that?!? Well, I was so shocked and rendered so tongue-tied that it’s been two weeks now and I still haven’t managed to carry out this negotiation.

But in your case, I think a phone call (lamentably) has to happen, in which you explain that you have been with them for 400 years exactly because of their previously reasonable approach, and you are quite disappointed to see evidence that that has changed, in which case you will certainly have to withdraw your 14 pence and move it to a bank that does not only PRETEND to be customer-oriented.

14. The Done Thing - April 15, 2008

My bank lost my birthday cheques this week. Being as perpetually skint as you, I really need the money, but feel incredibly tight asking my uncle for another £20.

15. BiB - April 15, 2008

The Done Thing, you have my sincerest sympathies. My aunt once gave my sister 500 quid – yes, 500 big ones – but, alas, by cheque, which my sister then diligently left in her jeans as she popped them on a hot wash. But you just can’t ask for a second go at a present, can you? The bank needs to do some serious grovelling to you, in my view. (Wyndham’s loaded. Borrow a couple of grand off him. He won’t even notice.)

Zoeleon, I thought you were a new person, until I craftily saw your e-mail address. Is this your new, Spanish identity? Is Berlin feeling very much part of your past? But, gosh, I’d be very bad at negotiating with a bank. They’d say, “We’ll charge you 500 whatevers for effecting this transaction,” and I’d say, “OK,” or might even talk them up to 600. This time, I haven’t yet had a reply to my Zimbabwe-credit-rating-themed letter but I’ll see how strongly I allow myself to react to it when it comes.

Narrowback, that’s brilliant. I must have a personality transplant so that I can allow myself to do the same. I haven’t heard too many horror stories from German banks, by the way, though they no doubt exist. I do remember the Russian writing to ask for some charges or other back too and, sure enough, they refunded them. Ask and thou shalt receive.

16. redneckarts - April 16, 2008

God yer funny. And boy do I need funny. Life in the arts. Working hard to finish a commission by Pentecost (I think I’m well past Pentecost, how the &*()$@@% would I know) so I can afford to ship the commission. I’m a hatefilled bastard glaring at the last of the snow.

Anyway… the password is “enter” and I put the Tigers site in my blogroll. Sorry for all the secrecy I just don’t want my aunt Ilene getting into it and then getting loaded and telling my mother about how I spent my summer vacations sorta… really. At my age, and having been out of my closet since it got to full of shoes to be comfortable. About 1912, it was.

17. BiB - April 17, 2008

I’m there, I’m there. On Tigers. Right now.

Snow still? I’m very bored of the shit climate here at the moment. I know it’s only April, so still the allowed-to-be-freezing months, but it’s fucking freezing, which is fucking boring. Conversation last night consisted of a few of us gentlemen of the fairer orientation discussing how far south we could bear to move.

18. narrowback - April 17, 2008

last saturday – 12. april – I attended the grand opening of a friend’s bar. around midnight I was outside the premises with a large contingent of her family which had flown in from dublin (no, not the one in ohio) for the event having a few cigs…suddenly the drizzle switched from rain to large snowflakes began to fall. from resulting the groans and curses a blind man may have assumed that excrement was falling from the sky, when i advised that we’ve had snow as late as mid may her brother asked “tell me again why white men stole the area from the natives”

19. narrowback - April 17, 2008

should have been “from the resulting”… still having the first cup of coffee and the brain’s not fully functional.

20. BiB - April 17, 2008

No problem. It’s 3pm here and I’m still wondering about how to tackle my work for the day. Luckily I’m meeting Mr. Japan at 5, so I only have to footle for another 90 minutes.

Wet and a white sky outside. 6 degrees (but feels like 3 with wind-chill taken into account). Longing for southern California or some bit of Australia. Haven’t ever been to either.

21. narrowback - April 18, 2008

that’ll teach me to type upon rising…i had no choice tho’, the morning news was confined to ratzinger’s visit and last night’s obama/clinton debate both of which had been covered extensively the night before.

I loathe southern california but i’ve heard good things about australia…i should have a gazillion distant relations there (one of my paternal great-grandfathers was one of 11 sons. 10 left ireland but only timothy came to the states. the rest went to australia) so i’ve often thought about a visit.

the week before i leave for berlin i’ll be in las vegas (again loathesome but work related obligatory) so i’ll get my (over) dose of sun and heat…for berlin i’ll be happy with some sun, a few days free of rain and temps around 18 C…am I asking too much for mid may?

22. BiB - April 18, 2008

Well, rumour has it (i.e. the Russian claims) it’s going to be a long, freezing summer, so who knows what May will be like? The furthest I can see into the future on the internet is early May when – cue drum-roll – it’ll be 12 degrees. Maybe I should move to Thailand.

23. Marsha Klein - April 19, 2008

It’s supposed to be a lousy summer in UK too (according to my mother). I can’t work our new central heating controls (pathetic, I know) and instead dress like a bag lady when in the house during the day. What are the chances of bag lady chic being the new look for summer 2008, do you think?

24. BiB - April 19, 2008

I’m doing scarecrow chic on a fairly regular basis, though without the headgear, which is only different from bag-man chic in that there’s a bit more colour involved. The Russians actually call someone dressed up in an inappropriate number of colours a ‘pea(-green) scarecrow’ (чучело гороховое/chuchelo gorokhovoe, in case you’re interested), so I’m only giving in to my Russian soul by proxy. But without my arms outstretched.

In any case, Marsha, trendy things like you and me mustn’t simply pander to whatever’s the in look of the season. We must set the in look of the season. I say bag/scarecrow chic it is.

25. narrowback - April 19, 2008

One of the first things I noted about Chicago after moving here eons ago is that with the advent of winter fashion sense goes right out the window…even moguls and models dress up like siberian peasant refugees fleeing Kolchak in 1919 – bankers with Elmer Fudd hats, fashion models in so many layers that they waddle when they walk –

wind chills of – 30C will do that to ya

26. BiB - April 19, 2008

Narrowback, I’m trying to cast my mind back to the bleaker days in St. Petersburg. I’ve got a feeling it was all very black and white. With maybe some grey thrown in. I remember cats huddling on manhole covers or car engines to get warm. The odd dead person being dragged off like a sack of potatoes by the police. And the wonderful desertedness of the streets, even main ones, when it got seriously cold. That was lovely.

27. dave - February 23, 2009

David Casey
30 Reginald St
M27 9UP

Dear Sir

Please take time in reading this letter, you may call my letter a begging letter but its not its my last chance to try and get out of the serious mess I am in.
My mess
£65.000 debt
Relationship break down
Treat off reposition
Lose my children
My self respect
Being made redundant
Of the above nothing counts apart from my children.

About me, I am 43 fit healthy man worked since I was 15, I have been a SOLDIER/BUS DRIVER/TRUCK DRIVER/TAXI DRIVER/SHOP MANAGER/WAREHOUSE MANAGER/MAINTENANCE TEC/SELF EMPLOYED, Varied but good jobs.


Straight to the point.

I am asking for help in any way you can help
What do you get for your trouble,
If you cant help thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Many Thank


28. BiB - March 16, 2009

Hello Dave, and I don’t know what to say, really, other than to wish you well and hope you can find a solution to your problems. I think professional debt advice – via the CAB, if that institution still exists – is a very good idea. (It does. Look.)

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