A small card in the mail box at Perpetual Opulence Mansions informs me that I have some sort of special delivery awaiting my personal collection at the post office. Could it be the bulging parcel of genuine Turkish delight, or lokum – sadly unavailable in Hong Kong – that I was hoping someone would be sending me?
Alas, it turns out to be no more than a registered letter (as I would have known had I curbed my excitement and examined the card). A registered letter is not necessarily good news. It could, for example, be a court summons following an unpaid fine for loitering, a cuckold challenging me to pistols at dawn, or – most probably – some impertinence from the government. But in this case, the envelope is plain, which is probably a good sign, and I recognize the way it is addressed to me as that used by HSBC, purveyors of fine banking services to the gentry. Suspecting a new credit card, I gently feel and bend it – there is something in there, but it is not a bit of plastic.
Ignoring the slightly startled stares of passers-by, I tear the thing open in a frenzy just outside the post office doorway and find myself with… seven Park N Shop HK$100 tokens. Plus a letter thanking me for participating in a unit trusts promotion and telling me that, having met the conditions of the offer, I am now entitled to what they quaintly call the gifts.
So Ms Gladys Lo, personal financial services officer at HSBC, thinks that I invested in a mutual fund purely to get some free groceries, does she? Could she, by any chance, also be the sort of person who thinks it is cute when dogs sniff each other’s bottoms? I have a sixth sense about these things – it is never wrong.
I normally avoid unit trusts/mutual funds on the grounds that their up-front fees are a rip-off, exchange traded index-trackers provide cheaper and easier asset-diversification, and I do a better job of stock-picking. However, a few months ago, I did put some money into a commodities futures fund that was available free of sales charges to HSBC’s most favoured and handsome customers. But it is a modest hedge to put a bit of balance into a lopsided portfolio – not some desperate attempt to qualify for a year’s supply of noodles and detergent from our local supermarket duopoly.
I haven’t been this insulted for… weeks.
To make myself feel better, I will click on the picture of Marks & Spencer’s chocolate mint stirrers (“Perfect [as in ‘pointless other than’] for after dinner coffee”) over and over for the rest of the day.