A case of 'I kill you sooner rather than later' at the world's local bank Following our story yesterday about HSBC's record fine by Britain's Financial Services Authority for ripping off elderly people in care homes, a reader has sent us a cheery tale involving his mother. She is a 92-year-old who has banked with HSBC since the early 1950s. A year or so ago, she went to see her bank branch account officer for financial advice, as deposit interest rates were very low and HSBC's lower still than others. HSBC's man told her they would normally recommend an insurance policy, which would provide a guaranteed good interest return for a certain number of years. But despite her advanced age, his recommendation was - unbelievably - a HSBC accumulator. These high-risk financial instruments, dubbed 'I kill you later', were in vogue during the stock market bull run prior to the 2008 global financial crisis. A number of Hong Kong's tycoons lost considerable sums of money as a result of 'investing' in them. They look very attractive when the market is rising, but investors can suffer a total loss if the market turns against them. Fortunately, our reader's mother did not fall for this wheeze, as she felt they were too complicated and did not understand them. So she left her money on deposit. So, to all of you elderly folks out there, beware of predatory bankers. ParknShop's ham-fisted labelling Yesterday's story over the people who mix up Austria and Australia prompted a reader to write that his local ParknShop sells packets of Tiroler Speck ham, complete with pictures of a man in lederhosen and alpine valleys. According to ParknShop, it is a product of Australia. When a dog met a pole Britain's Henley Business School recently published a report on customer satisfaction, The Independent writes. The report included a most unusual complaint. 'A customer phoned to complain following the delivery of a curtain pole, which the driver had poked through the letterbox. When the customer returned, they found their dog pinned to the wall.' Finns fly flag for fiscal rectitude We are all waiting with bated breath for the European Union summit on Friday, which is supposed to arrive at what passes in the EU for a 'resolution' of the sovereign debt crisis. Part of this, as the Evening Standard reports, appears to involve the 'Merkozy' dream team of France and Germany rescuing the euro by threatening spendthrift and recalcitrant nations with a big stick. However, what has been forgotten in all the noise surrounding the crisis is that under the rules of the growth and stability pact which governs fiscal policy within the EU and for countries that have adopted the euro, each state's deficit must not exceed 3 per cent of gross domestic product and its public debt must not exceed 60 per cent of GDP. The reality, of course, differs from the plan. Of the 17 members that use the euro, there is just one country that complies with these rules and it is neither Germany nor France, but Finland. Green logic Pythagoras Theorem - 24 words, Lord's Prayer - 66 words, Archimedes' Principle - 67 words, Ten Commandments - 179 words, Gettysburg address - 286 words, US Declaration of Independence - 1,300 words, US Constitution with all 27 Amendments - 7,818 words, EU regulations on the sale of cabbages - 26,911 words. An e-normous puzzle The European Commission, the EU's pit bull, is probing whether the young and the geeks are being ripped off by Apple and five publishers. The five are Hachette Livre, a unit of France's Lagardere Publishing; HarperCollins, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp; Simon & Schuster, a unit of CBS Corp; Penguin Group, which is owned by British publishing house Pearson; and Germany's Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck. The commission is examining whether the five 'have, possibly with the help of Apple, engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in the European Economic Area, in breach of EU antitrust rules'. Without wishing to prejudge the commission's work, we wish it would widen its probe into why e-books are such an outrageous price since they're digital files and can fly through the ether at the speed of light, without need of expensive printing presses, warehouses, delivery vans etc. We are sceptical as to whether these issues will be probed. This is a shame since this is what should concern anyone who's ever asked why digital prices often track the physical prices, despite being far cheaper.