Getting a Call From The Central Bank of Bahrain (Because I Unknowingly Broke the Law!)

The Eid card I sent out with a photo of me doing a side kick.

The Eid card I sent out with a photo of me doing a side kick.

If you’re on my (physical) mailing list, you’ll have received a Eid card from me, with some fake cash to used as a discount at either Zen-Do or the DreamBody Centre (DBC), worth BD 80.  The idea was to send you a “Eidiya” (tradition of giving cash during Eid) from me!

Quite an original concept I thought, and quite well received too.  We got a lot of positive feedback from this.  It’s my way of giving back to our customers, and encouraging those who have not tried us yet to come and join at a big discount.  (By the way, if you like the idea and want more such ideas, you might consider joining me FREE marketing course over at RadicalMarketing.com.

The “cash” we enclosed was based on the BD 20 note.  I went out of my way to make it look fake.  I intentionally repeated one face on both sides, and added the Zen-Do and DreamBody Centre logos.  Also, the bill was smaller than the real BD 20 note.

I also added a disclaimer, highlighted in black, saying “This is novelty money and is not usable as real currency, and is not redeemable for cash.  Can only be used at either the DreamBody Centre or Zen-Do Bahrain.  Offer expires Thursday 15th of October at 12:23 pm.  Terms and conditions apply.”

The inside of the Eid card with the fake BD 20 notes.

The inside of the Eid card with the fake BD 20 notes.

Last week the DBC Team Leader told me that a person complained saying that these notes were illegal and that we could not do this.  She politely thanked the person and forwarded the message to me.

I laughed at such a silly idea.  How can such an obvious fake be considered illegal?  I know international counterfeiting laws are very strict, but I thought that this was very obviously not counterfeiting.

Well, I guess I was wrong.  I got a call this morning from Sensei Vinod giving me a message.  He said “Um… Sensei, you got a call from the Central Bank of Bahrain…” and he gave the number of the person who had called.

I called the person back and he turned out to be really friendly and polite.  Also, he was quite high ranking in the central bank (CBB).  The conversation went something like this:

CBB Director:  Mr. Suhail you know that promotion you did with the fake BD 20 notes?

Me:  Yes…

CBB Director:  Well, you can’t actually do that.  It’s illegal.  Any copying of the nation’s currency must first be approved by the CBB.  Good thing you printed them smaller than the actual size, otherwise we’d have to be really strict…

Me: Sorry to interrupt you, but did you actually see my note?

CBB Director: Yes.

Me: Then you’ll have noticed that there’s a big disclaimer saying that this is not real currency.

CBB Director: Yes, but I’m afraid you still cannot do this without permission.  Besides, some one might try to give your note to a person of poor vision, or elderly person to take advantage of them.

Me: I see… is there a fine I need to pay?

CBB Director: No, this time it’s okay, but next time please take permission first.

Me: And you’re the person I need to contact for permission?

CBB Director: Yes.

Me:  Can I have your fax number please?

CBB Director: But you’ve already done the promotion.

Me: Yes, but I might do something similar again in the future.

CBB Director (laughs): Okay, my fax number is…

Well I’ll be damned!  The promotion was illegal!  Who’d have thought, right?  I certainly learn my lesson.  And I must say the gentleman from the CBB was extremely polite and understanding.  It was really nice the way he handled the call.

I don’t know how he found out, but ignorance of the law is not an excuse, as they say.  I don’t like it when people break the law blatantly, and I certainly would never do that intentionally.

Lesson learnt…

Talk to you soon.

2 Responses to Getting a Call From The Central Bank of Bahrain (Because I Unknowingly Broke the Law!)

  1. Faris 5 October 2009 at 4:49 pm #

    in fairness, the note *does* say Central Bank of Bahrain on it ! 🙂

  2. Melvin 18 November 2009 at 7:21 am #

    Well brushed,polished and finally a precious pearl of this island. Mr. Suhail…many thanks for showing your honest and down to earth life’s lesson.
    cheers n regards,
    melvin

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