Spend­ing postage on sums worth a pit­tance doesn’t make any cents

Irish Independent - Farming - - ANALYSIS - ANN FITZGER­ALD

I got a let­ter last week that gave me the best laugh I’ve had in a long time.

Tear­ing open a white en­ve­lope bear­ing An Post’s green logo, I found an of­fi­cial­look­ing doc­u­ment, green on top, pink on the bot­tom, ser­rated in the mid­dle.

I have a few prize bonds and in­stantly thought I must have won some­thing.

Yes, it did say Barán­tas/ War­rant.

I am start­ing to need read­ing glasses and didn’t have them on, but my eyes quickly jumped to see how much it was for and landed on a rec­tan­gle, in which sat, “75”.

Not so bad, I thought, that’ll get me a nice meal or maybe a cosy lit­tle jacket, now that the year is rapidly turn­ing. I took a closer look. It was very im­pres­sive and for­mal. There was stuff writ­ten in both Ir­ish and Eng­lish, wa­ter­marks, se­rial codes, etc. It was even em­bla­zoned with a lit­tle sil­ver metal­lic square.

Then I saw a lit­tle table con­sist­ing of a series of de­nom­i­na­tions and a box un­der each for the quan­tity.

The box un­der €1,000 read “0”. The box un­der €100 read “0”. The box un­der €10 read “0”. The box un­der €1 read “0”. Then, fi­nally, in the box un­der Cent, was my “75”.

I looked back to the first rec­tan­gle. There, nes­tled in at the front of the foot of the 7 was a dec­i­mal point.

I burst out laugh­ing. I found it hi­lar­i­ous that there would be such fuss about this tiny amount of money. I know that it would be the same thing re­gard­less of the amount. But still!

I had a State sav­ings bond which re­cently ma­tured. As in­ter­est rates have plum­meted, I de­cided to put the pro­ceeds into prize bonds. They don’t gen­er­ate any in­ter­est but the funds can be ac­cessed at any time and I might even win a mil­lion! My 75c must have been the re­main­der when the pur­chase was com­plete. Pre­sum­ably, the prize bonds will ar­rive in due course.

I shoved the war­rant into my hand­bag and, in the Post Of­fice a few days later, came across it as I was get­ting out my purse.

The ‘cus­tomer in­for­ma­tion’ sec­tion states: “If cash­ing the at­tached war­rant in a Post Of­fice, you must have suitable cur­rent Photo ID (pass­port, driv­ing li­cence etc.).

“I don’t have ID on me but can you cash this any­way?” I asked the cashier, push­ing the war­rant to­wards her, feel­ing a mix­ture of sheep­ish­ness and mis­chievous­ness.

“No,” she said. Then she looked at the war­rant, did a dou­ble take, let out a big guf­faw, and said, “of course I can”.

“It’s for 75 cent,” she told the other cashier in dis­be­lief, who her­self pointed out, “it would have taken a euro to post it”.

When I’d signed for it and given my PPS, I fi­nally took pos­ses­sion of my 75c, which Ruth promptly de­posited in a nearby poor box.

I couldn’t help won­der­ing how small a war­rant would be is­sued. Per­haps all the way down to a cent?

It brought to mind a story about the cur­rent in­cum­bent in the White House.

In 1990, a satir­i­cal Amer­i­can mag­a­zine named did an ex­per­i­ment to de­ter­mine the coun­try’s tight­est celebri­ties.

In the first round, they is­sued 58 cheques to the value of $1.11 to 58 celebri­ties in­clud­ing Cher, Henry Kissinger and Don­ald Trump — 26 were cashed, in­clud­ing Don­ald Trump’s.

In the fol­low-up round, 26 cheques for 64c were is­sued, of which 13 were cashed, again in­clud­ing Don­ald Trump.

Fi­nally, they went for one last hit. They is­sued 13 cheques for 13c. Two peo­ple cashed them: a bil­lion­aire Saudi arms dealer named Ara­bian Ad­nan Khashoggi and Don­ald Trump.

Some peo­ple ob­vi­ously feel that if you look af­ter the pen­nies, the pounds will look af­ter them­selves, and this is far from the worst ex­am­ple of waste/in­ef­fi­ciency in this coun­try, but surely there has to be a more sen­si­ble and prag­matic way of deal­ing with mat­ters like the above.

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