Officials put in their place
Below is an actual letter sent to a
bank. The bank manager thought it amusing enough to have it published
in the New York Times.
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 salary, an arrangement which, I
admit, has only been in place for eight years.
You are to be commended for seizing that brief window of opportunity,
and also for debiting my account $50 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
I noticed that whereas I personally attend to your telephone calls and
letters, when I try to contact you, I am confronted by the impersonal,
overcharging, prerecorded 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 Status 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, 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 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. 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 at a later date to the
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. While on hold, pending the attention of my
automated answering service. 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
Inspector of Taxes - the British version of the IRS recently sent this
reply to a disgruntled taxpayer.
You may laugh out loud, but below is a real reply from the Inland
Revenue. This has been circulated in AccountingWeb's latest TaxZone
newsletter and, apparently, appeared in British newspaper, The Guardian:
writing to you to express our thanks for your more than prompt reply to
our latest communication, and also to answer some of the points you
raise. I will address them, as ever, in order.
must take issue with your description of our last as a "begging
letter". It might perhaps more properly be referred to as a "tax
demand". This is how we, at the Inland Revenue have always, for reasons
of accuracy traditionally referred to such documents.
your frustration at our adding to the "endless stream of crapulent
whining and panhandling vomited daily through the letterbox on to the
doormat" has been noted. However, whilst I have naturally not seen the
other letters to which you refer I would cautiously suggest that their
being from "pauper councils, Lombardy pirate banking houses and
puissant gas-mongerers" might indicate that your decision to "file them
next to the toilet in case of emergencies" is at best a little
ill-advised. In common with my own organisation, it is unlikely that
the senders of these letters do see you as a "lackwit bumpkin or, come
to that, a "s*****g charity". More likely they see you as a citizen of
Great Britain, with a responsibility to contribute to the upkeep of the
nation as a whole.
brings me to my next point. Whilst there may be some spirit of truth in
your assertion that the taxes you pay "go to shore up the
canker-blighted, toppling folly that is the Public Services", a
moment's rudimentary calculation ought to disabuse you of the notion
that the government in any way expects you to "stump up for the whole
damned party" yourself. The estimates you provide for the Chancellor's
disbursement of the funds levied by taxation, whilst colourful, are, in
fairness, a little off the mark. Less than you seem to imagine is spent
on "junkets for Bunterish lickspittles" and "dancing wh***s" whilst far
more than you have accounted for is allocated to, for example, "that
box-ticking facade of a university system."
of technical points arising from direct queries:
reason we don't simply write "Muggins" on the envelope has to do with
the vagaries of the postal system;
2. You can
rest assured that "s*****g the very marrows of those with nothing else
to give" has never been considered as a practice because even if the
Personal Allowance didn't render it irrelevant, the sheer medical
logistics involved would make it financially unviable. I trust this has
meantime, whilst I would not in any way wish to influence your decision
one way or the other, I ought to point out that even if you did choose
to "give the whole foul jamboree up and go and live in India" you would
still owe us the money. Please forward it by Friday.
Customer Relations Operations Manager,
Her Majesty's Tax Collector.
to everyone who sent in a "funny"
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is so beneficial to the people as liberty, which we see not only to be
greedily sought after by men, but also by beasts, and to be preferred
to all things. Cicero (B.C. 106-43"