The next time you get a text message informing you of bank charges, consider taking a leaf from this woman’s book.
Author Nate Crowley, 33, spent this Easter weekend clearing out his late mother Chris’s house in Norfolk, who passed away in December.
“She was fairly eccentric for storing a record of absolutely everything, so the job has been pretty substantial,” said Nate.
“To give you an idea, I recently found a filing cabinet containing instruction/assembly manuals for every appliance she ever bought, including the actual filing cabinet itself.”
Luckily, Nate isn’t tackling this mammoth task alone. On Monday his Aunt Jo, Chris’s younger sister, joined him to sort through all of her financial records.
“I was up in the attic digging out new boxes to sort through, and Jo just shouts up “Um… I think Chris wrote a poem to her bank”,” Nate explained.
Sure enough, Jo had found a 1977 letter from Chris to her bank, containing a poem explaining she has “severely overspent”. Best of all, with it was a reply from the Midland bank which included its very own poem.
Nate was astounded by the letters, and shared them with his Twitter followers. That tweet has been retweeted over 4,000 times, with many users commenting that sadly this approach would not receive the same response today.
Nate feels the same, saying: “I think there is actually something really serious for financial services businesses to learn from this.
“At the moment, colossal resources go into trying to harvest information about people in order to automate credit decisions and ascertain their propensity to stick to the terms of a financial agreement. All too often, people with every intention to pay simply can’t get credit because there’s just not the right data available to make it past their bank’s automated scorecard.
“But back then in 1977, that letter from mum told the bank everything they needed to know about her character, without a single bit of data being transferred. They knew that if she’d go to the trouble of writing a poem, she’d bloody well pay the money when she had it.
“And even with the most incredible machine learning and automated voice recognition, that’s not a kind of intuition that automation can hope to replace.”