Shattering the merger myth[QQ] Not only do 83% of mergers fail to produce any benefits for shareholders; neither do they fill customers with delight. How many of us groan with dismay when having to deal with huge businesses? For example, take the new call centres that are springing up everywhere. It takes ages to get connected to anybody, while a computer repeats the message ‘all our customer services consultants are busy; please hold’. Who is paying for the telephone call while this is going on? How can we find out what the financial services industry is doing with our money? Most of the statements that I receive are incomprehensible and telephone calls to find out more are a waste of time. Did we want extra bank statement sheets that summarise payments and receipts? Why did banks suddenly introduce these summaries? What was the customer need that the banks were satisfying? Personally, I file these summaries straight into the bin. These are just three examples. How many more leave us frustrated and bewildered? I would like someone to give us just one example of how customers have benefited from a merger. Tony Hart, Cuddington, Cheshire Dame should get out more I refer to the leader in the 9 December edition of Accountancy Age. I agree with your argument that life under English ICA president Dame Sheila Masters is anything but dull. I disagree, however, that her attendance at regional dinners is unimportant if she wishes to reach out to ordinary institute members. I voted for, and support in general, the changes which Dame Sheila is pushing through. I support her concern with the ordinary members as the institute’s real customers. But remaining rooted to her office at Moorgate Place is not, in my opinion, the best way to communicate with and support her members. Better still, is for her to get out and meet those members for whom she is trying to do so much. I understand that she has decided not to attend the annual dinner of the South Wales Society of Chartered Accountants on the 11 February 2000. I am sure her appearance in Cardiff would give her the opportunity to meet some of her apathetic membership, who, from my experience, are very anxious to meet the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England AND Wales. She will, I am sure, make more progress in one day here, than many days in Moorgate Place. Gerald N Robinson, Cyncoed, Cardiff No stopping tax avoidance I quote directly from the Revenue document: ‘… employees who keep their shares in a plan for five years pay no income tax or NICs on those shares.’ This is tax avoidance, which IR35 purportedly sets out to stop, and which by their own admission may cause 66,000 companies to fail as a direct result. This is nothing short of hypocrisy. Brett Wing, via e-mail Warning! ‘Gruesome’ picture How could Accountancy Age (9 December) dare to put such a gruesome picture as its main story on page 3, without giving adequate warning of such disturbing contents on the front page? Steven Marsh FCA, Epping, Essex All letters should be sent to: The Editor, Accountancy Age, VNU House, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London W1A 2HG Tel: 0171 316 9236 Fax: 0171 316 9250 Or e-mail us on: email@example.com Accountancy Age reserves the right to edit letters for space or clarity. Please include your title, company name and a daytime telephone number.