Why the Gate City Bank Tell-A-Friend cards have to go.


I’ve never met a fellow Gate City Bank customer who actually appreciated the Tell-A-Friend (TAF) cards.

These cards are part of an incentive program. They feature “free gifts” that you can receive if you fill out your name on the card and give it to a friend. Should the friend decide to open an account at Gate City Bank, and should that friend remember to give them the card with you’re name on it, you could win some free plastic dishes or something.

I’ve had a hilariously large amount of discussion with friends and family regarding the TAF cards. These discussions typically end in laughing agreement on how much we hate them. Yes — hate them. I’m using the big HATE word right here.

“I’ve thought about collecting them all in a jar and at the end of the year, taking the huge pile into the bank and telling them there is no way I could possibly have used this many cards. There’s no way I could have ever had that many friends, much less in need of banking services,” I said to a friend. “I’m to the point where I try to hold out on depositing checks as long as I can so I can do it all at once and avoid all of those stupid cards.”

Just today, after a trip to the bank, I tried to leave the card in my friend’s pickup truck, and he tried to sneak it back when he handed me my soda. He’d wrapped it around the cup. “I see what you’re trying to do,” I said, and threw the card back at him.

They’re like a pox, these TAF cards. A pox on society.

No one wants them, yet they infiltrate your deposit slips and you didn’t even know you’d ended up with one. They end up on the floors of vehicles and the bottoms of purses and backpacks. They overflow the garbage. They litter the customer service counters. They flutter in the wind across the sidewalk near the bank. I can’t think of a time when I’ve pulled up to do drive-through banking and not seen the TAF card left in the tube by the previous customer.

No one wants them! Those of us who take them do so out of North Dakota nice, but we throw them away. Stop this madness before I go mad!

Why Gate City Bank Must Stop

These cards have to go. Here’s why:

  1. They force me to be rude. Apparently the tellers must give you the TAF card. They are generally very nice. I am annoyed that I have to say “No TAF for me, thanks.” Why must I even have to deal with telling them no? I absolutely dread the inevitable “…and here’s a Tell-A-Friend card” at the end of every banking transaction.
  2. They force me to make a decision. I’m only depositing my money. That’s what I’m there to do. I don’t want to have to decide if I’ll fight off the TAF, if I’ll just take it with me, if I’ll throw it out before I hit the exit, or if I’ll cleverly leave it with the others on the service desks next to the pens and calculator like all the other customers do. I have enough decisions in a day. Why force another on me?
  3. They are ecologically irresponsible. They’re a huge waste of fine-grade cardstock paper. By their very nature, a whopping majority of the time they will get tossed into the garbage, and Gate City Bank certainly knows this. Planned obsolescence is built into the the TAF system, since they are for a “free gift” during the current time. And of course, there’s no way I have thousands of friends that live in the Gate City Bank region. It makes me sick to throw paper away like that.
  4. They force me to be wasteful. It’s bad enough that the whole TAF program is wasteful in general, but they force it on me to take part personally. I hate wastefulness, yet I have thrown so many of these away. I’ve attempted to think up ways to “reuse” them in art or craft projects, but after four years and probably thousands of cards later…I got nuthin’ left. Except to throw them.
  5. They make me realize the bank is wasteful. I want to put my money in a bank that isn’t being wasteful. Knowing that they’re pumping money into a program like this, with so much peripheral waste, makes me question the institution.
  6. They are out-dated. Society is going paperless and online. You don’t have to like it, but it is. Banking isn’t just a regional thing anymore; people are banking online from far away. Using paper to promote your bank severely limits your reach. Use electronic means instead. Reward customers who get, say, Twitter friends to sign up for an account. It’s mind-boggling, the use of these silly paper cards. Gate City Bank is on Twitter and Facebook. Why are they using paper cards?

They have an online website that is bangin’, and both Android and Apple apps. They have a place where you can take part in the TAF system electronically, right on their website. Can’t they come up with a better way to reward people for getting their friends to open an account at their bank? Must it be so wasteful and annoying?

At this point, I’m practically a nervous wreck when I approach the teller. I know it’s coming. I know I don’t want the stupid card. I hate everything about it. Once, in a rare while, a young teller breaks protocol and doesn’t offer me a card. I often try to choose a teller with a high stack of cards at her station because, if she still has that many left at the end of the day, she’s not forcing them on people.

What Should Gate City Bank Do Instead?

I don’t want to just gripe and not offer a solution, so here are some of my ideas:

  1. Stop giving out paper cards. Immediately. Use less paper, not more, for cryin’ out loud.
  2. If they can’t stop doing that, then put a stack on the service counters and let people take them if they want them. Make them a “universal” card that doesn’t expire, regardless of what prize is being offered.
  3. Do their promotions online. They have a great website. Use it. Get online customers through online incentives.
  4. Use social media. They’re on Facebook and Twitter. Use that instead.

I like the bank. Nice people work there. Great online system. Great app. Free cookies and coffee. But I’ve just about had it with these stupid TAF cards. It’s getting to the point where they’re almost a deal-breaker. I’ve tweeted about it, posted on Facebook about it, commiserated with friends about it, and I’ve never had one person say they liked the TAF cards. Not. One.

6 responses

  1. I think this is the most well executed rant I have seen in a long time. It comes from a deep place – I can tell. I also 100% concur. The TAF’s must go.

    The only difference is that I take no hesitation in refusing them. I actually take pleasure in it. I assume that my refusal will somehow make it to the top, someday. Still waiting…

  2. I couldn’t agree more! If Gate City wants to see where their TAF cards end up they could walk across the street to the post office. The recycle bins there are always full of them!

  3. The problem with the solution being “just say no to the TAF cards” is that Gate City Bank is effectively teaching their customers to say no. If I get in the habit of saying “no”, good luck trying to sell me any financial products. I have enough difficulty saying no; they definitely should not be helping me break down that barrier.

    Bad marketing.

  4. It appears to me that your bank is in such a formidable position, that they know they can abuse you all they wish, and you’ll just take it. These managers are taught to be ruthless, and they’ve learned well. Like the manager at my friendly local bank. She’s the nicest person and I often see her at town functions. Just seems so normal. But when it comes to banking, there’s some quirks that make me wonder if she has a soul.

    In a few more years Julie, you’ll care even less what people think of you. In that golden day, your blogging life and your face-to-face life will be fully integrated. Then it will be second nature to just march over to the floor manager, and yell “Stop the madness!” And tell ’em yes I do blog it, and here’s my card. Now that blog post I’d love to see ..

  5. I didn’t finish, ’cause my keyboard disconnected ..

    There’s lots of things I could blog about. Alas, I’m just too timid when it comes to posting anything on the web. In person I am a bit more persistant and carefree. I guess it’s something to do with the permanent nature of the web. Grrr.

  6. I would never go up to a friend and hand them a card. “Why don’t you close your account at your bank, of which you have been there for years, knowing it is only a place to manage your month to month transactions, and go to my bank that pesters customers to bother their friends?”

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