Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A good cause

It just keeps getting worse. Seriously, I don't know if I can keep this up for much longer.

Page A5 has an 'article' (and I really mean press release) written by (and I really mean cut-and-pasted by) one Beck Vass* entitled "BNZ rolls up its sleeves for good causes". Oh yeah, cool.

BNZ branches will be closed around the country tomorrow as 3500 staff carry out volunteer work for community projects.

The "Closed for Good" initiative will require 177 store closures so bank staff can lend a hand to community groups including the Salvation Army, the Auckland Deaf Society and SPCA.

The online version is then interrupted by a photo of kittens.

The bank's customers will still be able to do their banking by internet, phone or at an ATM.

If customers have urgent banking to do on the day, BNZ will have a skeleton staff they can call on at 0800 24 00 00.

That's convenient - now the BNZ don't need to run their own ad. Oh, hang on, let's look at the very next page:
Of course, the article then goes on to detail the $650m tax fraud case from July currently under appeal in the courts:
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Oh, come on Herald. You know the one. It's the one where the judge claimed that, apart from tax-dodging purposes, "these transactions had no commercial rationale, logic or purpose for the BNZ". No? The one that was, until the more recent $900m+ ruling against Westpac, the biggest individual tax avoidance finding in New Zealand history? Haven't heard much about either of them recently, have we?

I'm sure the BNZ was truly thinking of the good of the community when these transactions were, according to the IRD, "structured to allow the BNZ to deduct its expenses of earning the income gained on the investment, while receiving that income free of tax."


*Of course, it's not her fault. I'm pretty sure Herald reporters don't get a lot of freedom to choose what they write about.


  1. Of course it's her fault. She works for them.

  2. aah you do make me laugh. Every day.

    I really do enjoy being able to say to the NZ Herald staffer who shares an office with me and Uni each day "oh did you write the one about the.." She then shits kittens while running to check your site.

    You're keeping these guys on their toes james.

    And doing a terrific job.

  3. Oh Kittens!


    Mmm Kittens.

    P.S. I would very much have liked to see a photo of $650 million along with a "this would have paid for X amount of hip operations/childcare centres/adult education programmes/days of emergency care at Auckland Hospital/etc" caption. It seems that we, the public, are not supposed to feel aggrieved at the horrendous amount of money these institutions have illegally avoided paying in tax.

  4. BNZ workers are given no choice about whether they perticipate in this charade, it's a directive.

  5. "I'm pretty sure Herald reporters don't get a lot of freedom to choose what they write about."

    And you'd be pretty wrong.

  6. I guess I was being charitable. Perhaps I am wrong.

  7. "BNZ stores" - do they sell kittens? Awesome.

  8. I'd like to know how much the BNZ has spent on advertising how good it's going to be today. Those "Closed For Good" ads have been everywhere on websites, ads in the newspapers and covering their banks. It's such a wanky ad agency idea in the first place. Just give the money to a charity and stop bragging.

    James: keep it up.

  9. As someone who works for the aforementioned ad agency (not for long, thank god), I can pretty much totally agree that the thought from the agency behind Closed For Good is "AWARDS, AWARDS, AWARDS!", and from the bank's point of view it's done very well to distract the public from the tax fraud case.

    In saying that though, and as much as I think it's a blatant ripoff of a large UK bank, they've closed down an entire bank to get 5000 people out doing free charity work today. We can't really say that's too bad a thing, can we?

  10. James you should look through the paper again, it seems every bank is doing awesome charitable work for the community! oohhh praise be

  11. What I'd like to see is a big Weekend Herald expose on all the banks that have cheated the tax system, show how they did it and how much they defrauded the IRD by. Oh and maybe some comments from the banks explaining just who the fuck they think they are.
    Basically a big old name and shame. But the Herald wouldn't do that to their advertisers...

  12. "I guess I was being charitable. Perhaps I am wrong."

    No, you're right.

  13. This BNZ Charity initiative is a total farce. Sure enough, they've wheeled out a bunch of employees in Downtown Auckland wearing bright blue T-Shirts and what are they doing? Taking fucking donations...

    Q. Wouldn't have been a whole lot simpler, and I would guess, much more financially beneficial for the charities involved, if BNZ simply wrote a big fuck-off cheque?

    A. Probably, but they wouldn't get nearly as much publicity.

    I would really like to see the amount of donations collected vs. the cost of this day for BNZ. I'm guessing they spent more money advertising it than they actually raised for charity.

  14. Monk De Wally De HonkNovember 4, 2009 at 4:22 PM

    Yes, that's a story I'd like to see. Sadly, the bank will not release its advertising figures.

    However, the Herald knows how much BNZ paid for the campaign in its pages. A quick check against the amount raised for charridy and the amount spent on the adverts will no doubt produce a deficit.

    However, I do not hold much hope for that to be published either.

  15. Similarly, it would be easy copy to report the charity total against the amount of money it withheld in tax.

  16. I know people who work for BNZ and they are very cynical about the whole "Closed for Good" thing. It's true they had no choice about participating but they say it would be a very brave staffer indeed who expressed any dissent about it. BNZ should not coerce its staff into a day like this just to try and make BNZ look good. Having said that I'm sure a lot of BNZ people did it willingly but I wonder how deeply they thought about their employer's motivation.

  17. Perhaps if the reporters generated their own ideas, they'd get to do more journalism and leave shitty PR stories like this to the shit-muncher college students.

  18. Some quick sums: Let's be generous and assume that each BNZ worker did 7.5 hours of unpaid charity work at an approximate labour value of $17.50 an hour. The 3200 BNZ staff would then only have to shut their bank and do charity work every day for 1547 days (4.25 years) to cancel out the $650m that the High Court found that the BNZ attempted to steal from New Zealand.