It may not add up, but too much is not enough

EARLIER this month, Melody Townsel popped into Wing Lung Bank Trustee Ltd on Des Voeux Road to pay her rent into her landlord's account. She couldn't remember what the precise figure should be, but she knew it was a little over $10,500.

So she paid in a cheque for $10,600 to be safe.

Yesterday, more than two weeks after her payment, she noticed that the money had still not been taken from her account.

So she called the bank to ask what the problem was.

They could not cash the cheque, they said, because it was not the exact sum they were expecting. They wanted her to physically return with a fresh cheque for the precise amount.

''Why didn't you tell me?'' she asked.

''I expect we would have soon,'' replied the bank staffer.

She asked them to cash it, and said she would pay slightly less next month to balance it out.

This was not possible, said the bank.

Melody realised that the time, trouble and taxi fare to fix the problem would be more than the over-paid money.

''Okay, I'll write it off. You keep the extra money. Buy yourself a drink.'' she said.

This was also not possible.

Wing Lung Bank Trustee. The firm that takes the concept of inflexibility to a new height.

Only human THE phone on our desk rang at 6.42 pm last night.

Lai See: Hello? Caller: Oh. Hello. Is this a fax? Lai See: No. This is a human being.

Caller: Oh. I was trying to send a fax.

We realise some machines seem almost human these days, but come on.

Tango blues IT'S a tough business spending your shareholders' money - especially when they're watching.

First Pacific Co yesterday arranged to pay cigar-smoker and China Club boss David Tang ''$5,000 per meeting'' to be a non-executive director.

It was only after the vote that it became clear that it was not HK$5,000, but US$5,000.

It sounded like a lot of money for a visit.

Trying to make it seem like good budgeting, company boss Manuel Pangilinan told shareholders there were only four meetings a year.

But this made it sound as if Mr Tang did little for his money.

Mr Pangilinan quickly added that Mr Tang visited First Pacific once a month to discuss matters.

''Once a week,'' put in the colourful club boss.

Mr Pangilinan agreed. Then the First Pacific boss added that he himself visited the China Club a couple of times a week and they often discussed First Pacific Co business.

By the time they had finished congratulating each other on how hard they worked, one felt like voting them an extra hardship allowance.

It's a different world.

Road to ruin THE Sikh Temple in Happy Valley, whose members don't smoke - theoretically, at any rate - are complaining about the R.J. Reynolds poster of Joe the Camel next to their building (see today's news pages).

How curious that the site of the friction is a corner of Stubbs Road.

One cannot help but wonder whether the road was really named after a Hongkong dignitary or because smokers, inspired by the poster, lit up a lot there.

Just the job DID you notice the name of the chap who resigned from Invesco MIM (a London firm related to Hongkong's Peregrine) in the story on the front of Business Post yesterday? He was Mr Ratan Engineer.

He was a finance director, although his name seems more suitable for someone working round the back of the little furniture shops in Queen's Road East, Wan Chai.

Other job-linked names sent in by readers recently: The production manager of Mountain Cream, Hutchison Whampoa's ice cream-like stuff, is a Steven Eis.

Lawyer Andy Ngan of F. Zimmern and Co tells us that the lawyer in the leading case on stamp duty was a Mr E.B. Stamp.

But he hopes that not all names match the people carrying them. ''There is a Mr Muddle teaching mathematics in my daughter's school,'' he said.

Greek to me ANN Grimwade and Tim Roberts of Clovelly Path came across the following business card this week.

''Pubic relations''? We've never heard it called that before.

Someone had better tell Ms Baroutsou of Athens to get a new name card before one of her business contacts thinks she means what she says.

No Lee-way RECEIVED a letter from Dick Wong, director of sales and marketing at the Lee Gardens International Group, announcing that he is leaving his job to go and work at a five-star hotel in Daya Bay.

''It was a difficult decision for me to leave,'' he writes.

Since the Lee Gardens hotel is about to be torn down by a demolition crew, it would be a pretty tough decision to stay, too.

Major error READER Bart Van Der Weiden showed us a letter he had received from Hongkong Telecom CSL dated Wednesday last week.

''Dear Customer, ''Save 10 per cent on all fax calls to the UK and Europe,'' it said.

If the UK is no longer part of Europe, someone had better tell John Major to stop him wasting his time on Maastricht.