By Tom Bradley

When there is a message on voicemail for me to call my bank, I ignore it. I didn’t used to, but I do now.

In the past, if I got one of those calls, it was because I was overdrawn or someone in Des Moines was using my credit card. There usually was something I needed to know or deal with. The urgency of the call was appropriate.

In recent years, I’ve received too many calls from the bank that sound urgent, but end up being sales pitches. They’re framed as attempts to provide better service (“How can I help you?”), but are quite the opposite (“How can I help you buy more products and services from my bank?”).

Having studied, invested in and worked in the financial services industry for 28 years, I find it remarkable how well the banks have transitioned to becoming sales organizations. It was less than 10 years ago that people like me doubted that the branch and call center staff could ever make the transition. Well, we were wrong. Today, sales machines like Xerox, IBM and Amway have nothing on the Canadian banks.

Moral of the story: If you steal one of my credit cards, you’ve probably got a few weeks before you need to toss it and steal another.