REMEMBER THOSE wonderful advertisements of a few years ago telling you if you brought a friend into a bank and he opened an account, you would receive anything from a toaster to a 25-inch color television set for steering him their way?
Well, it was a great gimmick and heaven knows how many people were dragged into banks by their friends. While the depositor was over at the teller's window filling out all the forms, the bounty hunter was escorted to the bank's hidden gift shop where he could select a token of the bank's esteem. t
I even did it myself. A few years ago I talked my friend Brinkerhoff into putting all his savings into the Second National Trust and Dime Savings Bank of Georgetown and wound up with an electric blanket as my reward.
The other day a vice president of the bank came to see me. He was very angry, "Brinkerhoff has just taken all his funds out of the bank."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I said. "I guess he figured he could do better somewhere else."
"It's your responsibility to get him back," he said.
"I don't see how you figure that. All your advertisement asked me to do was bring in a friend. You said nothing about me guaranteeing he would stay with you."
"It should have been obvious when you accepted an electric blanket from us that we expected you to make sure that Brinkerhoff would stay with us. Do you think blankets grow on trees?"
I told him, "Well, if you want to know the truth, Brinkerhoff and I aren't talking anymore."
"My wife let it slip about three months later, that I got an electric blanket for steering Brinkerhoff into your bank. Since he got nothing for depositing his money there, he accused me of being a shill for you and stomped out of my house in a rage. I haven't heard from him since."
"You handled it very badly. We told you at the time not to mention your gift to anyone."
"There was nothing in your advertisement that said I had to keep my lips sealed."
"Well," he said. "Now you see the results of your wife's indiscretion. You lost a friend and we lost an account."
"You bankers must be used to taking risks. What's the big deal?"
"Banks don't take risks. That's why we're banks. I must ask you to return the electric blanker."
You're crazy. I'm not going to give back a blanket that was given to me for bringing in a friend. Besides, the dog chewed a big hole in it and the wiring doesn't work anymore."
"We can have it repaired. Frankly, we're not interested in the blanket. But we can not allow people to accept gifts from us for bringing in new customers who keep pulling out their money. We're not Goodwill Industries." c
"I'm aware of that," I said, "but my dog loves the blanket and he'll tear my arm off if I give it to you."
"You should have thought of that before you brought Brinkerhoff into the bank."
"Maybe if you had given him an electric blanket as well, Brinkerhoff wouldn't have taken his money out."
"The ad specifically said only friends of prospective clients would receive gifts. Had Brinkerhoff come in without a friend he might have been entitled to choose an appliance. But since you were the one who brought him in, the responsibility rests with you. You vouched for him."
"You can't have your blanket back," I said.
The vice president said, "We don't want to be unreasonable. We'll give you until Monday to get Brinkerhoff back. If you don't we'll never let you bring a friend into our bank again."