Letters From Leton: Bring Out Your Dead

For those of a certain generation and comic curiosity, Monty Python’s classic movie, The Holy Grail, set during the time of King Arthur and the black plague, was a must see.

During one part of the movie, travelers were paid to come around and collect the dead. For unscrupulous family members, this was an easy way to get rid of folks you didn’t want around – you just had to bribe the travelers to take away folks who weren’t dead (just yet).

By the way, Monty Python’s influence on comedy is comparable to the Beatles influence on music. Saturday Night Live, among other shows, was an outgrowth of the Python comic influence.

Anyway, each year, the U.S. Government declares 12,000 or so folks dead – drumroll –  who are not dead! These folks go on the social security administration dead list (by mistake of course) and often do not get taken off.

One story I heard on NPR was about a lady who had been mistakenly declared dead in 2008. She only learned that she was “dead” in 2010 when she went into a bank to open a new account.

Ten years later, she still has a hard time. To minimize issues, she carries her birth certificate and a letter from the government saying that she is not dead. Regardless, she constantly faces a tremendous amount of questions and doubt because the system says she is dead. She’s been turned down at Wal-Mart for using a debit card, because she is dead. She’s been unable to go through lines at the airport, because she is dead. But – she is not dead!!

My question is: Why after 10 years has the government’s dead list not been corrected? And what about the other 11,999 folks declared dead in 2008 (and in subsequent years)?

This got me thinking about all of the regulations Powell Valley National Bank has to follow as a financial institution. How are we dealing with them? What do we put our customers through? What about our employees?

My hope for PVB is that we constantly think about how to streamline and simplify our processes rather than doing things certain ways just because that’s how they’ve always been done. I hope we take advantage of technology and out-of-the-box thinking. In everything we do, I hope we consider the benefit and service value to our customers, inside and outside of the Bank.

After all, I hope that we are better than the government in taking care of its customers (taxpayers, voters).

If not, our customers may leave us for dead.

– Leton

“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.