POST OF THE DAY
Credit Cards and Consumer Debt
The Japanese Bank Manager

Related Links
Discussion Boards

By bingocards
July 3, 2008

Posts selected for this feature rarely stand alone. They are usually a part of an ongoing thread, and are out of context when presented here. The material should be read in that light. How are these posts selected? Click here to find out and nominate a post yourself!

I am a happy customer of places like BoA and ING stateside, where I have no illusions that I am anything other than an entry in a database. In Japan, however, I bank at a little bitty branch office of a regional bank which mostly collects money from farmers and old people and sits on it. I like them a lot, because they give me funny moments like this one:

Coworker: Bingocards, you have a call on External One.

Me: ?? (Nobody has my work number except my landlord and, oh yeah...)

Bank Manager: Hello, this is Mr. Bank Manager from BingoBank. Is this Bingocards?

Me: Yes sir, always a pleasure.

Bank Manager: Before I say anything else, protocol says that I have to confirm you're actually Bingocards.

Me: No problem, I'll read you the numbers off my foreigner ID card that you have on file.

Bank Manager: Bah, too much work! Do you remember that time I came to your house to deliver your credit card?

Me: Yes, I do.

Bank Manager: What are you not supposed to do with your credit card?

Me: I am not supposed to use my credit card to buy alcohol. I am not supposed to give my credit card to my girlfriend. I am not supposed to ever gamble using my credit card.

Bank Manager: Good man! OK, so this is about your wire transfer earlier today. It was large enough that the rules say I have to confirm that you authorized it.

Me: I did.

Bank Manager: Recently a lot of customers have been called by fraudsters who say "You owe us a lot of money and if you don't wire it to us, you'll get in trouble". Have you had any calls like this?

Me: I have not. Besides, anyone calling to say I owe them money is a liar, and not a very good one at that.

Bank Manager: Good man! Say, this transfer is bigger than your usual. You got your bonus, I'm assuming?

Me: Yep. My first real bonus ever.

Bank Manager: Congratulations! You know, speaking strictly as a businessman, we'd be pleased as a pig in a blanket if you'd leave some of that money with us one of these days.

Me: I understand, Mr. Bank Manager, but speaking strictly as a businessman, you'd have to pay better interest first.

Bank Manager: Touché! Although buying dollars in this environment, Bingocards, you're a braver man than I.

Me: I like to live dangerously.

Bank Manager: Oh, to be young again! Alright, sorry for the trouble. Thanks for using BingoBank. If you ever need anything, you know where to find us.

---

Ah, I love BingoBank (not their real name, obviously). I think their philosophy is nicely captured by what the same bank manager once said to a little boy while his mother was using the ATM.

"Hey Mister Mister what does "bank" mean?"

"A bank, sonny, is a building where you hide your money from people who want to take it. Like yourself."

(As you have probably gathered, BingoBank is not really dealing with a subprime crunch at the moment.)