A while ago, I received a phone call from someone who explained that he was speaking on behalf of my bank. He was offering me an additional credit card. I explained to him that I didn't need one. He insisted that I did.
I told him that I am not that rich, I don't have expensive tastes, try to keep within my financial framework of what comes in - goes out (not that I am that successful but, heck, this is Israel. I once heard that there is really on 359 NIS real money in the country and that everything else is post-dated checks).
He tried again. "It comes in handy when you travel to Europe," he ventured.
"But I," I responded, "rarely fly to Europe."
"It doesn't cost you anything," he went on, "the first two (or whatever, can't remember now) years are free."
I then attempted to outwit him on a pure financial basis. "Sir," I said, "banks are in the business of making money. That's their right and I don't begrudge them (okay, the expensive fees they charge really tick me off). There is no way this is free."
"Sir," the young man continued, "perhaps ask your wife?"
Well, as my wife is the daughter of a CPA and is gened with accountacy expertise (and if we only had two million dollars I would let her play around), I said "okay, call me back inthree days after I speak with her."
He called back three days later. "No," was my reply, "we will not avail ourselves of your offer."
He tried but I put him off. "No is our answer."
Some three weeks later, our personal account manager calls from the bank (who-ha). "Can I interest you in our special offer on an extra credit card?" she asks.
"No," I said, a bit forcefully. "I don't need it. I don't want it. No."
On Wednesday this week, at 1:30 PM, I receive a phone call. "This is _____ from Bank ____. We invite you to come in and pick up your credit card and that of your wife."
I saw red. "I told you no. I didn't want them. Do you want me to sue your back for attempted extortion, stealing money, acting against my best interests and otherwise not listening to me?" I said, raising my force as I went along.
"But, but..." she attempted. "No buts," I cut in. "I want to speak to the bank manager," I demanded.
Now, this is like asking to speak to one of God's angels. "Can I pass you over to the department manager?" she tried.
"Listen", I said, five short decibels before shouting would be a better description of my tone and volume. "I want to talk to the highest paid employee of your bank who is now physically present at the bank."
Forty-five seconds later, the deputy bank manager, as he introduced himself, came on. He profusely apologized and then asked for the details. I gave them to him and added that not only did I consider his employees to be negligent and semi-criminal in their behavior but, I added, I felt myself acting on behalf of probably many thousands of clients who don't know how to say "no" in the first place, don't know how to refuse when the bank forces something on them and even more important, feel so useless in the face of the bank's dominance.
"If this is how your marketing has been operating," I pushed him to the wall, "then I am very angry at your irresponsibility. You may be causing people financial straits. I am really considering taking legal action."
We went on for another five minutes, he apologized yet again. I accepted his apology and urged him to review the practices in this second credit card operation.
This morning, the phone rang. The deputy branch manager was on the line. He informed me that a staff meeting had taken place. Decisions had been taken and I had made a contribution to the bettering of the bank's method in this operation. He then handed the phone to the bank employee (as opposed to the first fellow who was, I guess, an employee of a telemarketing firm) who also apologized.
And then, just before hanging up, she asked me to come in and review the possibility of investing in a monetary fund of theirs.
I won. But so did she.
Nevertheless, I do feel good.
One small victory for me, one small victory for bank clients.