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Comment: Why Pudsey HSBC’s Saturday closure is a self fulfilling prophecy

24 August 2017

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I was in the Pudsey HSBC branch last week when I saw the sign – ‘from Saturday 16 September this branch will no longer open on a Saturday’, writes John Baron.

While I was pleased to see that opening hours during the week would stay the same I was worried on a number of levels. What if I needed to access my bank and I couldn’t call in on a Saturday? It’s not always easy to get to a branch during the working week …

When I asked one of the ever-helpful assistants who work there why this was happening, she said there just wasn’t demand any more and that people were doing their banking online. She didn’t comment when I suggested it was all down to a greedy bank’s lust for profit.

So I gave in. I asked the helpful assistant to help set me up with internet banking. If you can’t beat the buggers, join ’em!

I’m now a fully paid up member of the internet banking fraternity.

Irony is, when I came out of the office some 15 minutes later, there was at least half a dozen people waiting to be served – so much for not being busy on a Saturday.

But why does this make me mad? Well, call me old fashioned, but I like to have service from my bank, I don’t want to have to push all the buttons myself (I don’t trust myself for starters).

Customers should have a choice of how they do their business and not be forced online, on their phone or to the remaining ‘local’ Saturday branches miles away in Leeds city centre, Morley or Bradford.

I’d happily sacrifice internet access 24-7 for customer service and a personal touch (or maybe a combination of the two).

I’m also reminded of my 79-year-old mother, who repeatedly tells me she doesn’t know what she’ll do if bank branches close completely. She does well for her age but feels too long in the tooth to start an internet learning course and so needs an accessible branch.

The WLD has reported during 2017 about the closure of Farsley’s Yorkshire Building Society branch and the end of Armley’s Leeds Building Society.

Well-formed arguments about it affecting the most vulnerable in society – not forgetting losing a community resource on the high street – are quickly swept under the carpet. The human touch lost forever and replaced by your laptop.

It’s inevitable internet banking will ultimately take over. In many ways it’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy – you go into a branch and bank and building society staff are actively encouraging you to carry out your business online.

I feel sorry for them. They’re talking themselves out of jobs.

And when people do move online, it’s inevitable local branches become less relevant for some (and an efficient cost-saving for our lovely friends the bankers).

I’m all for technology and progress, and I’m sure internet banking will undoubtedly come in useful. But I do mourn the loss of service, of human interaction and the closed high street buildings which were once bustling centres of commerce and community. Why can’t we still have both?

   

   
   
   
   

   

   


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Steve Midwinter says:

I have no doubt this is the first step towards complete closure of the branch. Ultimately, the reasons will be the same as given for the Saturday closure, that people prefer Internet Banking. The building will be sold off and you will have to then go to Leeds or Bradford City Centre to do anything other than withdraw cash.
I have been a Barclays customer for over 45 years and always used the branch (now closed) at Manor House street. The staff were always very friendly and warm, the branch was rarely full or over busy, but had a regular flow of customers throughout the day. In view of the Bank failures a few years ago, it was quite re-assuring that there was a “bricks and mortar” place, where you could go and put your cash as well as withdraw it. It is, I guess progress, but I wonder if it really is? De-personalising services such as this, can not be a good thing, in my humble opinion. People are becoming more and more isolated they shop online, they bank online, date online and play PC/Console games online they do not go to the Pub and even play Bingo on line.. to name just a few things, there is no need to go out anymore !
Sadly the younger generation no longer speak clearly (not just my opinion), the majority speak at a ridiculous speed and with a lack of clarity that, unless you speak the same language disappears into thin air as they are usually looking elsewhere when they speak to you, until the third request for a repeat!
Oh I digress! but the gist of this is that I believe in a short time we will not have Bricks and Mortar Banks except in City centres and I believe that that is a retrograde step but being promoted as progress but actually cost saving and cash generating.
nuff said from this moaning old git !

fjb says:

I well recall the introduction of the ATMs. I was often encouraged by bank staff to use them instead of the counters. They scoffed when I told them they would lose jobs if everyone used the ATM but I consider I have been proved right.
The banks only care about the bottom line. The retail customers are barely tolerated. I must confess I am now an internet banker, I couldn’t beat then so I’ve had to join them. The next step we will be forced to take will be smart phone banking. I’m really not looking forward to that.

westleedslife says:

Agree – when I was setting up internet banking I was being encouraged to get the app as well. I refused for now …