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:
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- Stop giving out paper cards. Immediately. Use less paper, not more, for cryin’ out loud.
- 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.
- Do their promotions online. They have a great website. Use it. Get online customers through online incentives.
- 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.