Open Letter to Barclay’s

Hi Barclay’s,

I know this is going to sound petty. I know that you’ve probably had tons of letters about the LIBOR scandal, and your PR team are trying to find a way to minimise the damage from that little snafu. And if I’m honest, I know this is petty too. I know there’s all the problems with the rape culture in Western society. I know there are people homeless because banks like yourselves collateralised debt to obscure how risky your investments really were. And yes, I am aware that Zach from One Direction has quit Twitter and there are now hundreds of young teenagers weeping softly into their pillow just like I did when PJ and Duncan left Byker Grove.

But this issue has been sticking in my craw for too many years to remain silent. No longer will I allow this to silently continue without opposition: Why are you incentivising people to unnecessarily use up paper? Why, when the rest of the world is try to reduce their environmental footprint, are you encouraging people to waste resources?

Let me make my complaint clear. Actually, let me compare you with a competitor. I bank with the Cooperative. When I happen to pass through Narnia, where my nearest branch is located, I can withdraw money from a Coop cash machine.

Would I like an advice slip with my cash? “We take environment seriously” says the machine, “are you sure you need a receipt?” If I were to select yes (I never do), I’m confident the machine might get a bit annoyed at me. “Really?” I expect it to ask, “You had a receipt yesterday. Do you really want to have a hand in destroying the world?”

No, ATM, I’m sorry, I don’t, but I need to know my balance. “Well excuuuuse me,” replies the ATM, rolling its eyes, “I guess you were too stupid to see the ‘Check Balance’ button when you withdrew your cash. Maybe, once you know how much money you have, you’d like to murder a badger. Or cause an oil spill by encouraging poor safety regulation. YOU BASTARD! THE DEATH OF THE ENVIRONMENT IS ON YOUR HEAD! Have you seen the competitive interest rates on a Coop Savings Account?”

The point is that the Coop really want you to use their online banking system. And really don’t want you to waste paper.  As you may be able to guess, anonymous Barclay’s employee, I’m about to launch a comparison bomb at you.

Yesterday, like a selection of previous days in the last four years, I withdrew cash from a Barclay’s ATM (sorry, Hole in the Wall™). I would have used a Coop, but this was London so I was about 10 miles away from the nearest branch. I withdrew the big-spending £20 I needed without issue, but before I could receive my money I was asked the following question:

“Would you like an advice slip? Check the reverse to see if you’ve won a pair of Premier League tickets!”

I get it. You sponsored a bunch of overpaid borderline psychopaths to run around doing not very much at all. Presumably the execs missed the obvious irony in that gesture as they took their 7-figure bonuses. And now you have more Premier League tickets than you know what to do with. Bravo for giving them away.

But surely there must be a way to do that without getting football fans to use up otherwise unnecessary receipt paper. I know there are only so many executive days out you guys can take off before the economy gets ignored so hard it actually starts to improve, but why not do an independent goal of the month competition online, with real prizes like match of the day used to?

Hell, why not donate them to the hard working volunteers who try desperately hard to keep our kids playing sport instead of playing truant? Or throw them off of a balcony over Oxford Street and enjoy the spectacle of the proletariat duking it out over yourhand outs. Maybe that one’s more up your street.

But please. Please, please, please stop wasting paper like you don’t give a fuck. And while you’re at it, if you wouldn’t mind not fucking the public for the financial gain of just a few, even just for a month or two, I think we’d all appreciate it.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Ballantine

PS. I think there’s a joke about a Coop ATM and a Barclay’s ATM (sorry, Hole in the Wall™) walking down the street. Maybe the Barclay’s ATM (excuse me, Hole in the Wall™) litters and then the Coop ATM goes mental and murders the Barclay’s ATM (ugh, did it again, should be Hole in the Wall™) with a rusty switchblade.

I don’t know, maybe you guys can be funnier with it than me. After all it was your ex-CEO who said that the banks should stop apologising for the crisis after conspicuously never apologising in the first place; presumably you guys already understand humour.

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Filed under Banks, Environmentalism, Ethics, Letter

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