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October 30, 2007

Calling It A Day

The Wonders Of Modern Banking

Many will have read in recent weeks of the crisis rocking the British banking industry. After much soul-searching, out of commitment to civic duty and respect for the public's right to know, I must reveal my fear that it was I who brought it about by withdrawing assets that had formed the underpinnings of the system. But I feel I was left with little choice for this drastic decision, as I hope the following will make clear. I can only express regret to those whose careers and lives may have been disrupted as a consequence.


Barclays Private Clients International Ltd.
P.O. Box 8
Jersey
JE4 8NE
Channel Islands
UK

June 19, 2007

Re. USD Account No. .........

Dear Barclays Bank,

Please close the above account. Any overdue balance may be made up from my euro account with you, no. ........

Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours sincerely,

James Hogan


[Regular statement arrives, making no mention of closing account.]


Barclays Private Clients International Ltd.
P.O. Box 8
Jersey
JE4 8NE
Channel Islands
UK

July 6, 2007

Re. USD Account No. .......

Dear Barclays Bank,

I wrote to you on June 19, closing this account--see copy of letter attached.

Today I telephoned to query the latest statement accordingly, but gave up after being kept on hold for 20 minutes--that's after getting through the voice mail queue.

Please advise.

Yours sincerely,

James Hogan


[Call from bank. No trace of original letter. Duplicate sent by Recorded Delivery. Account closed. Two copies arrive of an identical form letter acknowledging the complaint and assuring me of the bank's concern.]


Barclays Private Clients International Ltd.
P.O. Box 8
Jersey
JE4 8NE
Channel Islands
UK

August 26, 2007

Re. Euro Account No. .......

Dear Sirs,

Please close the above account and send a bank cheque for the balance to me at the address above.

Thanking you in anticipation, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

James Hogan


[Regular statement arrives. No mention of closing the account. Called bank to query. No trace of letter.]


Barclays Private Clients International Ltd.
P.O. Box 8
Jersey
JE4 8NE
Channel Islands
UK

September 21, 2007

Re. Euro Account No. ........

Dear Sirs,

For a number of years I maintained both a US dollar and a euro account with you. In June of this year I wrote to you to close the dollar account. Depositing a dollar cheque was taking in the order of 6 to 8 weeks at exorbitant charges, with the bank's appreciation expressed in the form of a somewhat snottily worded letter reminding me of all the things I'd be liable for in the meantime. (In Ireland they credit my account immediately, and since I'm over 60, charge me nothing.)

After about a month I had heard nothing and so phoned to check the situation. I was told that nobody could find the letter, and so sent a duplicate by Recorded Delivery.

Which left the euro account.

Barclays' Visa office in Dublin had issued a deferred debit card linked to this account. We've experienced some peculiar instances of a block being put on the card because of a "suspicious transaction" being flagged--such as spending 120 euros in the town where I live! In August this year I visited the USA, as I frequently do, and although there were ample funds in the account, found the card being rejected for a $30 petrol charge and a $65 motel bill. I called the Dublin Visa people from a hotel in Texas and was told I had to talk to the bank. The bank told me I had to talk to the Visa office in Dublin. We went around this circle three times, running up hotel phone charges from the U.S., with no sense or satisfaction forthcoming from either end.

Upon returning to Ireland, I wrote to you on August 26 closing the account--copy enclosed. Today it's been almost a month, so I phoned to check. And sure enough, true to form, nobody there can find the letter.

So this is another Recorded Delivery repeat-performance. (The person to whom I spoke actually suggested that since "we are not responsible for the postal system," I should send all correspondence to you by Recorded Delivery--at 4.95 euros per letter instead of 0.78!)

Please close this account and send a cheque for the balance to the above address.

Sincerely,

James Hogan

Cc. Barclaycard, Dublin. Card enclosed


[Third copy arrives of the same form letter received previously.]


Matthew W. Barnett
Chairman
Barclays Bank PLC
54 Lombard St.
London EC3P 3AH

October 28, 2007

Dear Mr. Barnett,

After being a customer of Barclays for over 35 years, I have closed both my accounts. The enclosed copy of my letter dated September 21, 2007, gives the story.

I had run the final euro account down to a balance of 714.30 euros, which I requested be posted to me as a cheque. Instead, the bank raised a draft at a charge of £25 sterling and then sent it by courier, incurring a further £10. In addition to this, 14.60 euros was deducted by the Irish bank for "negotiating" the draft, whereas a cheque as I had requested would have been credited at once for no charge. The net result was that the initial 714.30 euros shrank to 644.28 before I saw it--almost ten percent sticking to the banking system's fingers, just to get my own supposedly safeguarded money back. How would Barclays feel about losing ten percent of its assets merely by transferring them from one account to another?

If I lend someone my car, a power tool, or some storage space that I'm not at present using, which they can put to some productive purpose, I expect a share of the proceeds. The original concept of banking worked by the same principle with regard to surplus capital placed at the bank's disposal. It seems that the ethic no longer applies, but in these enlightened days I'm expected to pay steeply for the privilege of lending you my lawnmower.

Sincerely,

James Hogan

 
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