Customers of Lloyds and NatWest banks have accepted the High Street closures with remarkably little trouble, it seems. As more and more people turn to internet banking, the spate of branch closures appears not only inevitable but plain economic sense.
Both the above banks have made alternative provision for diehard customers who are determined to deal with a human face. Lloyds brings a mobile unit to the former cattle market each Wednesday; NatWest has an adviser at Rye Library every Tuesday. The Post Office, located in Jempsons Crownfields store has taken much of the load of displaced demand, but its service has reportedly been subject to the inconvenience of queues and delays.
Retailers in particular have had to resort to the Post Office to meet their requirements for cash and small denomination notes. Their complaint is that these notes and coins have all to be counted by hand, a tedious process. This contrasts with technological wizardry at Lloyds, where notes of varying denominations, all jumbled together, can be counted instantly and correctly by machine. On the other hand, Lloyds seems incapable of printing out a customer’s cash withdrawal receipt, but one cannot have everything.
Lloyds’ mobile van appears never greatly busy. The presence of an attendant to ensure customers’ safety as they climb up the ladder steps makes one wonder at this use of manpower. However, Lloyds say that this service will continue “for as long as it is needed.”
The High Street still boasts a Nationwide and a Barclays, both with cash machines. The latter sold off the freehold of its premises some time ago, but has given no indication of any intention to close the branch, despite giving its encouragement to online banking.
The older generation may feel most deprived, but the clock cannot be turned back. I have memories of seeking an interview with a pin-striped Lloyds bank manager in the 1960s, when we needed an overdraft of £240 to purchase a new cooker. A nail-biting experience it was and how triumphant we were when the outcome of negotiation was successful. That was a tale of a bygone era indeed. Yet despite all assurances of confidentiality and data security, something still prevents me from trusting to online banking. Long live the dinosaurs!
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird.