NORMALLY, the problem Lai See has with banks is getting them to do the things we want - write off our debts, stop bombarding us with dreadful direct mail and that kind of thing. One reader has another problem. Mr Scott's bosses in London telegraphically transferred his expenses to him last week. Mr Scott incurs expenses in three currencies, Hong Kong dollars, US dollars and British pounds. Conveniently, he has one of those gee whizz multi-currency, telephone banking and facial massage service accounts. The three parallel TTs took days instead of hours. This is typical, as Mr Scott knows well. Where it gets slowed down no one knows - although the Hong Kong Association of Banks says it is never here. 'Trying to find out what happened would be like fighting a wall of grey fog while up to your knees in treacle,' Mr Scott said. He did think it a bit much when his bank decided to convert all the currencies into Hong Kong dollars, however. Given that he had accounts in each currency, had given no instructions and three separate TTs were made, he felt he had a right to an explanation. His bank manager at Very Large Bank first told him it was 'the law' that all transfers had to be converted. 'Which law?' he asked, 'I'll have my lawyer take a look.' Some hours later he was told a different story. It was not the law, it was a Hong Kong Association of Banks rule, he was told. Mr Scott found this hard to believe to and put his foot rather firmly down. The conversion was unwound. But his bank manager is right - the technical sub-committee of the association does have a 'guideline', according to secretary Paul Lowndes, that amounts of less than the equivalent of HK$10,000 are automatically converted. 'The vast majority of customers want it,' he said. Okay then, how come all the banks are promoting these wildly expensive accounts with multi-currency features built in them? Or is that a stupid question? Agent a gent ONE of our regular readers is in the throes of moving flats. He is doing business with an estate agency which proudly displays one of the ICAC's 'ethical estate agent' certificates. 'Listen,' our reader said to the agent, 'I like the flat you've shown me. But I don't like the price. If you bargain the landlord down $2,200 a month in rent, I'll give you $1,000 cash.' 'No problem, sounds like a good deal,' came the reply from the agent, who was actually standing under the certificate. There is a simple explanation for this. The certificate did not come from the ICAC headed by Bertie de Speville but the other one - the I Can Accept Cash. Lip service BUSY travel agents are always rushing about trying to provide a tip-top service to their millions of satisfied customers, so it is not surprising that little administrative things should sometimes get missed. Like the listings rules on connected transactions by the directors of Four Seas Travel International. Chairman Leung Yeung Lai-ling and managing director Leung Hoi have been doing a little spot of businesses with two companies controlled by very close family members. Did we say a little spot of business? More than a fifth of company turnover in the year ended March 31 came from ticket sales to the two companies, some $268 million worth in all. They have been doing that since well before the firm listed in 1992. There is going to be an SGM to discuss this, and lucky shareholders will be allowed to give a retrospective and general mandate for the sales. The independent directors have apparently decided that the business was fair and 'beneficial to the group'. So that's all right then. Loco logo NO wonder the economy is slowing down. Most of the territory seems to be spending its time e-mailing Neo-Zen Koans to each other. Our mail box is flooded with fine examples of what happens when people try to think too hard about everyday things. Professor K.C. Lye, head of the Architecture Department at Hong Kong University, actually knows why marmalade is not called orange jam. 'It was served to Mary Queen of Scots when ill by her French cook - served to Mary Malaise. The dish was served to perk her up,' he said. While 'William W.' observes that: 'I don't know, but I vaguely remember a playground riddle with the punch-line, 'Look at the orange mama laid', which seemed corny even to a seven-year-old. May therefore be perfect for Lai See. Incidentally, can you ever imagine observing acutely that your lunch companion still had a speck of 'orange jam' on his club tie?' A fresh puzzle comes from Tim Gallagher at the Park Lane Hotel. We hope he has not been overdoing it, because his question is this: 'Adverts for pain-killers always seem to claim 'there's nothing stronger'. If they are so strong, why do we have to take two at once?'