Ihave finally worked it out. It isn’t us that don’t want High Street banking, it is the banks that don’t want High Street banking and are hell bent on proving the point.
I am one of those that made the transition to internet banking many years ago, anxious to avoid the prospect of ever bumping into my ‘friendly’ – have-you-got-aminute-to-discuss-your-overdraft bank manager.
I am sure I was not alone in being slightly afraid of the man in the grey suit who could affect my whole future on a whim. New car? No chance. A loan? What for?
‘No wonder the banks make so much money, I trilled, to be met by a rapidly disappearing smile of someone who had clearly heard it all before’
And then it all changed and they fell over themselves to give out money with offers of credit cards cascading through the letter box at the rate of four or five a week.
My wife, who goes by the name of Bond, was even given her very own credit card with a picture of 007 on it! My, how we laughed as we fell further into debt!
But that was also in the day when a visit to your local branch would also be accompanied by offers of insurance for everything, some of it asked for, and in the case of PPI, some of it hidden.
However, there remain some things that require a visit to the bank – not least to pay in cash or cheques and there lies the rub. My nearest branch is more than ten miles away and is a round trip including paying for parking, of around an hour. On a good day.
The problems do not end there. Along with a plethora of new rules, the Government have decided that we are all potential money launderers worthy of their scrutiny. Not easy in a country that does not, in theory, require the carrying of ID cards.
Take the bank that likes to educate us in all things internet (See what I mean? Crafty). I visited one of their branches, still replete with six cashier windows, but only two staff at peak time to pay in some money.
Take note, I was attempting to give them money, not something that is easily achievable over the world wide web, but despite being the account holder I was stupid enough to have popped out with out a passport or photo ID.
Date of birth? Pass. Address including postcode? Pass. Name of employer? Fail. (I haven’t been gainfully employed for more than a decade). Wife’s sister’s bridesmaids date of birth? Fail.
And as a result I was sent away having been informed that despite being a customer for the best part of 20 years I could not prove who I was and anyway they did not have my signature on file.
And so to the next unnamed bank that likes to give a little extra. Armed with my wife’s card I wanted to pay in a couple of cheques and some cash. Not possible said the solitary cashier. You have to use the machine, at which point, much to the chagrin of the lengthy queue behind me, she abandoned her post and accompanied me to the machine.
Try as I might I could not see Howard, one-time star of the TV ads, which is no great surprise as he probably no longer works there as he would raise the staffing levels to somewhere approaching acceptable. I was informed in firm but friendly tones that they were allowed one person ‘on the floor’ and one behind the till. End of.
No wonder the banks make so much money, I trilled, to be met by a rapidly disappearing smile of someone who had clearly heard it all before, and was not paid to parry sarcasm. Fair dos.
So, if you do manage to find a branch, don’t expect it to be accompanied by the service you were promised when you signed up, when your custom appeared to be the most important thing on their agenda.
Ignore the adverts, they speak of a bygone age when service was king and a person could always be found to help you do whatever you needed to do and a smile was never too much trouble even if the manager was a bit scary.
They don’t want you to use the bricks and mortar banks and they are hell bent on forcing the last few of us that attempt, out of the door and onto the internet. You are but a credit score on the world wide web.
Finally, I ventured into the Post Office where the queue snaked back to the door, with the cheery tones of the electronic voice announcing “teller number five please” (well it would have if there had been more than three people working in the numerous available windows).
And as I left I noted over two post boxes in the wall a sign exhorting ‘Please give your letters and parcels to a member of staff.’ I would have done if I could have found one. Contact David at David@ Doyoumeanme.com or follow him on Twitter: @grumpygrockle
DAVID GLEDHILL,aka The Grumpy Grockle, gives his thoughts on life as a relatively new resident of Devon