The Fish
for 24 December 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.
 
Suck Staff
 

Joey Anuff
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&
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Copy Editors

 

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Cox
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Welch
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& Ass Kicker

 

[yes, it's
a plunger. i'll l
eave the rest up to your imagination ... ]
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Production Manager

 

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Goode
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Ghost in the Machine

 

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Development Manager

 

[Brian
Forsyth, " we're just spanning time "]
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[the fixin'
pixie... ]
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[Ian
Connelly]
Ian Connelly
Marketing Manager



Gimme Gimme Gimme

Eugen:

With all due respect, sir,
you're full of shit! Fuck
these goddamn blood-sucking
leeches at America's
financial institutions. This
whole ATM mess is absurd.
These fuckers are bleeding us
dry ... because they can!

Shit, I wish the days of
"3-3-3" were back! You know
what they pay me for interest
on my accounts? If I'm lucky,
I squeeze 1.75 percent.
Jesus! And as far as "the
cost of maintaining an ATM"
goes, forget about it. Do
they cost money to maintain?
Yes, absolutely. Are they a
technological wonder? Do they
generally kick ass? Of
course. But each ATM
(according to recently
published reports) costs
approximately US$30,000 to
maintain each year. How much
do you think they save in
salaries? How much in benefits?
Sick time? Profit sharing? In
fact, these things are the
ultimate profit machine —
they give their profits to
the banks.

The banks made the decision
to do away with tellers and
other "human" services
wherever possible. And I
agree — the convenience
speaks for itself. But fuck
the banks and anybody stupid
enough to agree with them on
this issue. The fucking
things save them so much cash
it's not even funny. Don't
believe me? Well, think back
to your precious '80s. How
many banks did you find in
supermarkets? When I was a
little kid, you actually went
to a "bank": a big, imposing,
free-standing structure with
tons of official,
serious-looking people doing
seriously imposing shit. Now,
you stop by on your way to
the car with the groceries
and talk to one, maybe two
individuals. Fuck the banks.
They're trying to ride a cash
cow and don't like that
they're being called out on
the carpet. This is their
cost of doing business, not
mine! And, in fact, the
banking industry seems
perfectly willing to gloss
over the fact that when they
first introduced ATMs, they
billed them as "cost-saving"
devices! How soon they
forget.

Gary Shust
<shustg@oceusa.com>

Indeed, banks make money
— last year, according to
the statistical abstract, they
made more than 13 percent
return on their equity and a
little more than 1 percent on
their assets. This is not denied
in my piece. But given the
numerous ways to avoid paying
these ATM fees, I'd say
banks' decisions about what
to charge for their services
ought to be a matter between
them and their customers, not
city governments.

Cordially,

Eugen
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Hey Eugen,

Good stuff.

What's your take on adding to
military personnel's benefits
the honor of not having to
pay ATM fees? I tend to be
"government: hands off!!!" on
my approach to things but
feel that saving a poor
serviceman the $1.50 charge
for using the enemy/
competitor's ATM could
go a long way toward making the
service a more desirable
alternative to, say, college
or just getting a regular
job.

Think about it.

Frieda von Pollo
<StricFla@aol.com>

Indeed, the poor serviceman
is key to all sorts of public
policy issues, most
especially our profligate
throwing of our weight around
internationally. Let us work
to eliminate that job, and
then this ATM problem will
disappear like the morning
mist.

Best,

Eugen
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


My belief is that, as old
constitutional law indicates,
corporations, particularly
limited monopolies like
banks, operate at the
sufferance of the people. If
they didn't operate in accord
with the wishes of the early
government of this country,
they lost their charter. I
realize this isn't the case
anymore, but it ought to be.
My point with specific regard
to banks is, screw them. They
make a Titanic profit off the
sweat of our brows. They take
interest, they take fees,
they take stock profits. How
much of that do they return
to their customers? How much
profit do they really need?
If there were a legitimate
argument that the money that
they were taking in profits
was stimulating the economy
to greater ecstasies of
growth and orgies of new jobs
and businesses, I'd say cool.

The fact of the matter is
that banks, like most
corporations, make profits
when you and I suffer.

<fordej@moffitt.usf.edu>

I have never looked upon,
outside bursts of sudden
self-pity, my paying for any
service as "suffering" per
se, nor do I agree with the
notion that people conduct
business at the sufferance of
the populace. Banks' decades
of benefiting from special
government privileges was
addressed in my piece, and it
surely does make one want to
see them get theirs. Two
wrongs, alas, don't make a
right, or so I was taught at
my papa's knee.

Eugen
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


I read with interest your
comments on ATMs. I live in
Connecticut, where the state
has banned point-of-"sale"
ATM fees (the ones you pay to
the owner of the ATM). One of
the arguments the banks make
is that the machines will
disappear if the fees are
banned. I'm here to tell you
(and I'm surprised the news
media hasn't picked up on
this) that we've got ATMs all
over the place. In fact, I
see as many machines here as
I do in places where the
banks charge outrageous
($2.50 plus) fees, such as
New Orleans and most of
Florida. Furthermore, I've
never seen it mentioned, but
the banks actually collect in
a third way. When you
withdraw money from a
"foreign" teller machine, the
foreign bank treats that as a
loan to your bank on which it
collects interest, albeit a
minuscule amount.

There are banks that eschew
fees. There are Web sites
that show where these are. I
for one try very hard to
patronize them when I am out
of state.

Larry Davis
<rldavis@charger.newhaven.edu>

Thanks for your thoughtful
reply. Indeed, banks won't
necessarily get out of the
ATM business without the
fees. Which doesn't shed any
light on the wisdom or
propriety of government
deciding what fees a company
can charge. More customers
should take your approach.

Eugen
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Eugen,

Perhaps I'm missing something
due to my continued residency
in the Canadian wilds,
perhaps I'm not. Either way,
let me know if I've got this
right: You are arguing that
banks are justified in
levying service charges and
our objections to them derive
from a false sense of
entitlement? Specious, my
good man. Specious.

The cost to install and
maintain ATMs was borne out
(in Canada at least) in the
massive downsizing visited
upon banks' workforces.
Moreover, they use ATMs only
because they are a cheaper
method of delivering the same
service. If you want other
examples, just look at a Ford
assembly line.

Am I counterarguing that ATMs
do not have an overhead? No,
just that offsets exist where
the cost of maintaining an
ATM is considered. Banks saw
the opportunity to capitalize
on customer behavior and now
charge an equal or greater
amount than the hourly wage
of a teller. In other words,
not only are they not paying
that wage, they are making
a more than 100 percent return
on the cut. Subtract the
electricity used to power it,
the depreciated value of the
thing, as well as the Wells
Fargo dudes who spirit the
money away (or reload it),
and the cost per ATM is
minimal. That's just the easy
economics of it.

The real kick in the ass
comes from the fact that we
give our money to banks, which
give us no return in the form
of interest (at last check,
my savings account was
providing me with .75
percent, and my checking
account .01 percent — no,
I'm not joking. I get a penny
per hundred dollars in my
checking account, and 75 cents
in my savings). As the Barenaked
Ladies sing, "if I had a
million dollars," I could
barely live off the interest
(single malts are expensive,
you know). Yet banks this
money and aggressively invest
in all manner of endeavors
for their own profit. Their
investment schemes with my
money benefit their
shareholders, not me.
Perversely enough, I can live
with that.

What I cannot live with is
banks filling their coffers
just a little more by
circumscribing my choices
even further. They took
away tellers, loaded up the
city with ATMs, then charged
me when I didn't have a
choice as to where I could do
my banking. Thus, my real beef
comes from a point of logic.
How can they justify charges
to me when 1) the alternative
they provide suits them
better, and 2) they already
use my money to increase
their profit margin? Then
they turn around and use cost
as a justification for why
they charge to use the ATMs.
Fine, it does cost money to
run these things, I have
already acknowledged that.
I'll gladly pay one cent more
than the real cost of using an
ATM. On a per-use basis, the
cost to me would be, what
— three, maybe four cents
a pop. I do not have a false
sense of entitlement, at
least not about this issue
(do not talk to me about what
I should be earning yearly).
I do have a sense about fair
value for service rendered.
Fair exchange is all they are
entitled to.

Yours,

Will Murray
<murray_29@hotmail.com>

Yes, I understand you feel
banks are making too much
money. It's quite easy to
avoid letting them make that
little extra off foreign-bank
ATM fees, by the way. I'll
leave the solution as an
exercise for the reader, just
like Encyclopedia Brown.
Don't peek in the back!

Best,

Eugen
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Hit & Run

Sucksters:

Re: Your recent piece on the
all-girl band, Rockbitch

A few remarks regarding some
of your more salient points:

* Forget Meatloaf or Menudo
— Rockbitch is a reaction
against The Spice Girls

* Lubricity, well, OK ... but
what about safe sex? Is this
a band with a bisexual death
wish?

* Rockbitch sez that its
performances are a "protest
against an industry that uses
sex as hype but never follows
through." Right. And I
suppose that advertised
foursomes and sex onstage do
nothing to increase publicity
or record sales.

* They probably need a work
visa to perform in Canada,
Britz or not.

Noel Carisse, Esq.
Ottawa, Canada

Just like a lawyer to use
bullet points to clarify his
argument. And just like a
Canadian to be from Ottawa.
You crazy Canadians just
never quit, do you?

You sneaky bastards.

Unlubricated, hyped, and
sexless,

Sucksters
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Re: Tony Robbins

I like stupid Web pages,
thanks. It's really too bad
you failed. How do I know? If
you went to Tony's seminar
and were a success, you
wouldn't have time to be
making stupid Web pages about
him.

Rick Smith
<byter80@hotmail.com>

I don't know, man. Even
Cowgirls Get the Blues
was
just so pointlessly zany. And
did you see Uma in the movie?
Hell. He's a lucky guy,
though. That Susan Sarandon
sure is something else.

Anyway, if I were a success,
I wouldn't have time to do a
lot of things. Which is why I
prefer not to be a success.

Failure never tasted so
sweet,

Suckster #3
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


Suckdot

Way to go, Suck! All six of
your hard-core Net-head
readers must have been peeing
themselves over your
rapierlike parody of
Slashdot. One question: What
the hell is Slashdot? Really,
nobody cares about this crap.
We want the goofy essays that
run down the center of the
page, and don't scrimp on the
Canadian crack-smoking
rabbit. I can devote about
five minutes a day to Suck,
which is more than enough.
Suckdot is far too great a
commitment.

<rsmiley@ idun.com>

You have our apologies, Russ,
for asking you to commit more
than five minutes of your
life to something as tedious
as Suck. By way of making it
up to you, a check is in the
mail — just a small
gesture of our regret.

the Sucksters
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 


That is the funniest, most
esoteric thing I've read in a
long, long time. Big props to
you.

<David.Ritchie@tradenz.govt.nz>

Thanks, David. Watch upcoming
issues for Suck's wacky,
hilarious parodies of English
literary journals,
entomological societies, and
the mating habits of
burrowing rodents.

the Sucksters
 
Fish With Letter Icon
 

 The Shit
Seeing Calvin Coolidge in a Dream, John Derbyshire, St. Martin's Press, 1996
Peekaboo's Masks, 2492 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco
West Beirut, director Ziad Doueiri, 1999
"The Smartest Cartoonist on Earth," Daniel K. Raeburn, The Imp, Vol. 1/No. 3, 1999
Mad Monster Party, Rankin/Bass Productions, VHS, Deluxo & Black Bear Press, 1967/1999
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, America's Best Comics, 1999
Hermenaut No. 15: "The Fake Authenticity Issue," editor Joshua Glenn, summer 1999
Guillow's Sky Streak rubber-powered balsa-wood glider (without landing gear)
Webvan
Very Emergency, Promise Ring, Jade Tree, 1999
Mean Magazine No. 5, summer 1999
Slickaphonics, Replikants, KillRockStars/Rue St. Germaine, 1999
"Cash, Interesting, Summer Holiday", The Young Ones, Foxvideo (BBC Video), 1988
Driver (PSX), GT Interactive, 1999

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