The other day Belle and I went into a car showroom. When we finally got to see a salesman, he said: “You’ll want a Volvo estate.”
“Certainly not, we want a Lotus Elise,” I said.
“Sorry, couldn’t sell you that. A beast like you would look silly, the Volvo it is”.
“I don’t care how silly I look, I am the buyer and I want the Ardent Red sports-car!”
“Sorry, doesn’t suit you, Sir. Our regulator, OffCar, says we have to decide what is appropriate for our customers. We were just fined for selling three litre cars to people with small garages…”
We thought we would recover over lunch, so we were weighed in, took blood tests, and completed a form.
“What would you like to drink with your steamed cod and brown rice?”
“I don’t want steamed fish… I want a double cheeseburger with bacon, an order of chips, and a milkshake.”
“Sorry, wouldn’t suit you, Sir. OffJunk won’t let us serve burgers to an overweight Beast like you…”
At the Travel Agent, after the normal formalities: “Sorry Sir, we can’t sell you tickets for Cannes, even to visit your cousin Film . Mrs Noire has been to the tanning centre once too often – they’ll certainly have trouble from OffTan – so I am afraid we can’t let her go to a sunny spot.”
At least my savings are safe. I bought these ‘Extra Income Growth Bonds’ at Lloyds TSB in February 2000. I agreed that the extra return was worth a small risk that the equity market would be down over three years, especially as it was only a small part of my savings. But I needn’t have bothered with the small print. They are sending me a compensation cheque anyway, because the FSA said they should have known the investment wouldn’t suit me.
And my pension is safe too. My employer paid my pension contribution in time, so he won’t risk a fine (even though my salary is three weeks late).
I know the fund is OK, because the trust just completed a Myners Compliance Review, 150 pages in all. I gather the head of pensions thought of nothing else for four months. He is particularly proud of the three page Socially Responsible Investment Statement.
Mind you I was a bit concerned when the actuary told the trustees that they would be fined by OPRA if they didn’t follow his expert advice. Three years ago he advised selling all the bond holdings for equities, last week he said: “Sorry, equities just don’t suit you”.