2008-07-27

Take my money if you must, but stop spamming

In 2003, after I completed my PhD dissertation in Copenhagen, I moved to Edinburgh to work as a post-doc for Joe Wells. Joe was rather eager to have me start as soon as possible such that I could receive a braindump from to the previous occupant of my position, who would be leaving soon. The plan ended up being that I'd complete and deliver the dissertation on Friday, and start work in Edinburgh the following Monday.

I arrived on Monday with a suitcase containing several changes of clothes. Meanwhile, my parents were cleaning out my flat in Copenhagen, packing my stuff into boxes and having it shipped to Scotland. (Thanks, Mom and Dad – you're the best!) Note to self: such tight schedules can not be recommended for future job changes.

The first thing I was told to do after I arrived was to go a bank and open an account into which my first salary could be deposited. Salary payments must be prepared some weeks in advance (paying out money always seems to involve red tape in proportion to the size of the organization), and I was arriving near the end of the month, so payroll needed an account number for me post haste. Otherwise they'd have to, I don't know, special-case my payment or something. That, apparently, would be a Bad Thing.

The Royal Bank of Scotland had a branch right on campus. I went there and they created an "instant access savings account" for me. A few weeks later I discovered that this was not quite the type of account I wanted; I'd rather have a "current account". I don't remember what the difference was. Presumably I had good reasons for switching.

For some reason, my existing account could not just have its type changed; I had to create a new account of the right type instead. Once I'd gotten the account number at payroll updated, I went to the bank and asked to have the savings account closed and its balance transferred to the current account. This happened.

Except that the savings account turned out to be not quite closed. At the end of the year I received an account statement for it. It had earned 6 pence of interest by containing half a month's salary for a few weeks, so its balance now read £0.06. There didn't seem to be any way to react to this that was worth the trouble, so I didn't.

[My letter to RBS]Time passed. Every so often, the monthly statement for my current account would be accompanied by another sheet reminding me that I had £0.06 in the savings account. In 2005 I moved back to Denmark. I had the current account closed (successfully) and its balance wired to my Danish bank.

But that poor savings account kept sending me statements for the same £0.06 several times a year. Each statement probably cost the bank at least ten times the outstanding balance to print and mail. But I'd become less than satisfied with the Royal Bank of Scotland's service (for reasons that I may blog about later if I find myself in a particularly petty mood one evening). Anyhow, I figured that they deserved it, somehow.

But perhaps three years is enough to forgive and move on. Today statement #12 arrived in the mail. I have just spent about a pound in stamps on returning it with a request to have it shut down.

Ain't I a nice guy?

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