David Gled­hill

Devon Life - - Inside -

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

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