Mail to keep the wool over your eyes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 December, 1993, 12:00am

IF you're a Hongkong Bank customer with a SuperEase account, don't throw away that junk mail without reading it very carefully.

The bank has got a new meaning for the word ''adjust'': it now means a 45 per cent fee increase.

Martin Alexander of Braemar Hill was ploughing through the fluff that came with his statement, headed: ''New Measures and Service Upgrade to Keep You One Step Ahead,'' detailing all sorts of new and unnecessary facilities.

After reading for long enough, he eventually found that ''the annual account fee will be adjusted to $130''.

At present, it's $90.

''Merry Christmas to you too, Hongkong Bank,'' was his comment.

''It doesn't look like an increase in fees. It looks like just another leaflet.'' Actually, Standard Chartered Bank mounted a similar operation a few months ago. It sneaked in bank charges for business customers for the first time in a leaflet trumpeting ''greater control over the management of your company's money''.

In today's competitive environment, banks have to learn fast from their competitors.

Role play CLIVE Weedon of Nomura is heading off to Asia Equity next month to pursue what he calls ''a broader role''. And Frederick Chan of Morgan Grenfell is heading over to Nomura.

Talking of new faces, who are these guys Pattey and Palten who moved the market so graphically in Saturday's newspapers? Call of nature IF a woman colleague at the next desk jumps up and sprints for the door when something goes BEEP BEEP in her handbag, it may be that's she's just off to have sex.

A company called Switime Manufacturing in Kwun Tong has launched a great new gadget - an electronic menstrual-cycle timer which not only indicates the time of maximum and minimum fertility, but also the chances of having a boy or girl if conception takesplaces at a particular moment.

You can set it to give an electronic alarm when the perfect moment for having a boy arrives.

They've thought of everything. The gadget, which looks rather like a Nintendo Gameboy appropriately enough, even has a little light, so if you hit it off in a romantic, candle-lit restaurant you can check the state of play with your ovaries without having to ask the waiter for a torch.

Rave review NORTHERN Arizona University is to hold a very serious seminar next June.

It will look at how tourism can help preserve cultural heritage, be kind to the environment, and help underdeveloped nations improve their economies in a sustainable way.

''Perhaps world tourism will be the key to world peace,'' the organising committee says.

Later, the delegates will head off to whoop it up in Las Vegas.

It's true. After the conference, delegates are invited on a 12-day tour of the area, which starts off with very worthy visits to New Age and Native American sites.

Then they let rip.

''Lunch on your own while you sample the gambling, but save some room! That night you'll have dinner and a high-style show!'' All in Las Vegas.

They also tour Beverly Hills, with a stop at Rodeo Drive and ''a magnificent dinner at a trendy spot in West Hollywood''.

The brochure continues: ''Where's the one place everyone goes to finish off an exciting trip . . . Disneyland!'' Re-funded AN update on Caesar Luk Man-wa, who was one of the two people reprimanded by the Securities and Futures Commission last Tuesday for ''window-dressing'': artificially improving the performance figures for a fund.

Although Caesar no longer manages the fund he was found to have window-dressed, he hasn't left the territory's fund management business.

He's now in fund management at Carlson Investment Management, which manages Hong Kong investments for a number of overseas institutions.

Sinking feeling DAVID Harris of Eurocell was faxed this tale from a company in Australia: Once upon a time, the Australians and the Japanese decided to have a boat race on the Brisbane River. Despite practising hard, the Australians lost by a mile.

The Australian team management decided to set up a project team to find out why.

Their conclusion: the problem was that the Japanese had eight people rowing and one steering; the Australians had one person rowing and eight steering.

Senior management hired a consultancy to study the team structure. After millions of dollars and six months, they concluded: too many people steering and not enough rowing.

So the following year, the team structure was changed to four ''steering managers'', three ''senior steering managers'' and one ''executive steering manager''.

A performance appraisal system was also set up to give the person rowing the boat an incentive to work harder. This time, the Japanese won by two miles.

The Australians sacked the rower for poor performance, sold the paddles, cancelled the budget for a new boat, awarded high-performance awards to the consultants and distributed the money saved to senior management.