Of ours paid a poker debt with a check for $37...

A FRIEND

April 27, 1994

A FRIEND of ours paid a poker debt with a check for $37. When his statement from a Baltimore bank came three weeks later, he noticed that the bank had debited his account $57. He called the bank and was told to bring in his statement and the canceled check. "We'll photocopy everything and credit your account."

He did so at some inconvenience. "That's rare," said the officer at his neighborhood branch after she'd glanced at the documents. She did not say when the money would be credited, nor did she ask if he'd bounced checks because of the bank's error, nor did she sound particularly apologetic.

And then it struck him: If a bank mistake is so "rare," why doesn't the bank pay the same penalty its consumers do when they bounce checks? Such a move would demonstrate that banks really do care about their customers' money. If bank errors really are rare, it wouldn't cost that much, and it would be worth a fortune in advertising and public relations.

If one bank broke from the pack and started unabashedly paying for its mistakes, our friend wouldn't be the only one moving his money there.

* * *

HOTLINE, the daily roundup of political news and views, brings us some intriguing quotes from recent debates on airport parking privileges and other congressional perks, under the heading: NOTES FROM THE 'REFORMIST' CLASS OF '92:

Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) defending free airport parking: "When is this Congress-bashing going to stop?"

Rep. Rod Grams (R-Minn.): "I think lobbyists get a bad rap. Lobbyists have a justifiable reason for being here. I support their cause."

Hotline then cited a quote from Senator Moseley-Braun on the day after her 1992 primary victory over Sen. Alan Dixon. She told NBC's Today show that she ran because of a "sense that the Senate was a closed institution . . . not really representative of the people . . . our senator had lost touch with the people."

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