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Madeleine Begun Kane,
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Madeleine Begun Kane

My husband recently asked me to do what should have been simple task. My assignment, should I agree to accept it, was to reinvest a dividend check. Now don't get the wrong idea; I'm not talking high finance. I'm talking about a $13 check.

It seemed like a reasonable request. After all, as a work-at-home freelance writer I have limitless time to wend my way through the maze referred to in polite company as an automated telephone system. A system devoid of humans. A system demanding endless digit punching. A system designed by a sadist. A system that must be destr...

Whew, I almost lost it. Gotta calm down. Gotta get back in control. It's only a phone system. I'm sure if I try it again and am really patient and follow instructions r.e.a.l.l.y. s.l.o.w.l.y. a.n.d. r.e.a.l.l.y. c.a.r.e.f.u.l.l.y, I'll manage to reinvest that check. The seventh time's a charm, right? So here goes.

Thank you for calling Annoyingbank Shareholder Services. The company declared a dividend of 44 cents per share payable June 30 to shareholders of record on June 6. The share price was 62.875 dollars.

(You told me that already. Six times. Now get on with it.)

If you are calling from a touch tone phone, please press one. If you are calling from a rotary phone, get lost.


Please select one of the following options.

(I'd love to, damn it. How about some cooperation?)

For your share balance, press 2. For information regarding direct deposit of dividends or for status of your dividend check, press 3. For change of address, press 4. For information regarding dividend reinvestment,...

(Hallelujah!) 5.


To enroll in the dividend reinvestment program, press 1.


Please enter your 10 digit account number followed by the pound sign.

(Beep, Beep, Beep, etc.)

You have entered too many digits. Please try again.

(How many times do I have to tell you? My account number has 13 digits. Can't you people count? Okay, this is a test right? I'm supposed to guess which digits to leave out. The winner gets an extra dividend. Is that it? Okay, I'll play along. Let me think. If I were a mentally ill computer programmer in charge of developing a shareholder service system for a large, incompetent bank, where would I place the extra digits? If I remember correctly, I left out the last 3 during calls five and six. So this time let's trying omitting the first.

(Beep -- Beep -- Beep -- Beep -- Beep -- Beep -- Beep -- Beep -- Beep - Beep.)

Your request is being processed. Please stay on the line.

(My request is being processed? Be still my heart.)

Your data is currently unavailable. Please try again later. To return ...

(No, please, no.) the main menu, press nine. To speak with a customer representative, press zero.

(A customer representative? A living, breathing, human being. Yes, oh yes, please, yes. Beep.)

Your call is being transferred to the next available service representative.

(Finally. I knew if I was really patient and diligent and didn't give up hope, I could really do this. Any minute now I'll be talking to a...)

Click, click, click. Ring, ring. If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again. If you need help, hang up and dial the operator.


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