Friday, August 15, 2014

Who'll Teach Bank of America English?

Nigerian spam? No, a communication from the U.S. second-largest bank. I received this letter (on paper, via the postal service) today from Bank of America. I don't know why they would have closed my account and don't want to (even tho they kept blocking my credit card because of the crime of living in Colombia).

B of A would not be the first company to send me a letter mistakenly, but it's the first one to send one in such garbled English. From the start, it sounds like a text generated by Google Translate - which it probably is.

'Subject: Thanking the company for choosing. 

Dear Mr. 

On behalf of Bank of America has the honor to address you on the occasion to thank you....' and so on.

If this had come by e-mail, I'd have considered it amateurish spam. But it came from one of the world's largest banks, which surely must have a native English speaker somewhere on staff capable of proofreading.

Ever heard of including a subject in your sentence? Or making your objects refer to something? I suspect that with a little bit of time I could reconstruct the original Spanish-language letter which this one was evidently Google-translated from.

Update: I've since learned that someone apparently tried to hack my account, by phoning B of A and trying to pass themselves off as me. And, they also apparently bought more than $2,000 in furniture using my card number. Thanks to B of A I won't have to pay that fraudulent charge, so I'm grateful to the company, irrespective of their English skills.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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