For­tune res­i­dents up­set at Sco­tia­bank ABM re­moval

The Southern Gazette - - NEWS - BY PAUL HER­RIDGE THE SOUTH­ERN GAZETTE Paul Her­ridge Photo

Ac­cord­ing to Mayor Charles Pen­well, a Sco­tia­bank de­ci­sion to re­move its last re­main­ing ves­tige from the Town of For­tune is not sit­ting well with res­i­dents.

About 15 years ago, the bank shut down its full ser­vice branch in the community.

Al­most two weeks ago, a sign ap­peared next to the au­to­mated bank­ing ma­chine (ABM) lo­cated in the en­trance to Collins’ Fresh­mart in­form­ing cus­tomers it, too, would be re­moved Oct. 10.

Cus­tomers are ad­vised ser­vice would be avail­able at the bank’s branch in Grand Bank.

Up to Thurs­day, Mr. Pen­well said the town had not of­fi­cially heard from Sco­tia­bank re­gard­ing the de­ci­sion and in­di­cated at­tempts to contact the bank for a proper ex­pla­na­tion had also proved un­pro­duc­tive.

The mayor ac­knowl­edged he had spo­ken to an in­di­vid­ual with Sco­tia­bank ear­lier that day, who was re­turn­ing a com­plaint call made by his wife.

He said he was told the rea­son was an ar­moured ve­hi­cle has to come from St. John’s ev­ery week to sup­ply the ma­chine, a ra­tio­nale he shot down. He pointed to the fact a truck still has to travel to Grand Bank, as well as through For­tune and onto St. Lawrence.

“They don’t seem to have a rea­son other than I guess cor­po­rate greed and they want to save a few dol­lars.”

Other than the Sco­tia­bank ABM, there are two other pri­vate cash ma­chines lo­cated in other For­tune busi­nesses. Both have us­age fees charged by the busi­nesses, as well as Sco­tia­bank for us­ing a ma­chine other than one of their own.

Mr. Pen­well said the move would have a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on se­niors and peo­ple who don’t have ve­hi­cles, in par­tic­u­lar, not­ing the re­turn trip cost via taxi to Grand Bank six kilo­me­tres away is around $15.

While he said coun­cil doesn’t know the ex­act fig­ure for monthly with­drawals from the ma­chine, he sug­gested the dol­lar amount is siz­able. Cus­tomers are also able to use the ABM for trans­fers and pay­ing bill.

Also par­tic­u­larly dis­con­cert­ing, said the mayor, was the man­ner – or lack thereof – in which Sco­tia­bank con­veyed the in­for­ma­tion to the community.

“(Sco­tia­bank) has no trou­ble find­ing us when they want us to take out RRSPs, or if they have some­thing they want us to in­vest in, but in this case, now more than a week af­ter they put the notice up, we still haven’t heard any­thing from them as a town.”

Sco­tia­bank spokesper­son Ann Derab­bie told The South­ern Gazette Fri­day af­ter­noon the bank takes sev­eral fac­tors into con­sid­er­a­tion when mak­ing such de­ci­sions. She in­di­cated that in­cludes the cost of the ma­chine rel­a­tive to how much peo­ple are us­ing it and the ser­vice it pro­vides.

“In this case, when you added that up the cost of the ma­chine rel­a­tive to what it could do for peo­ple, it just didn’t add up any­more, es­pe­cially when we had a full ser­vice branch and two full ser­vice ABMs less than six kilo­me­tres away.”

While Ms. Derab­bie said she couldn’t pro­vide a dol­lar amount on us­age, she sug­gested oper­at­ing costs, in­clud­ing pro­vid­ing cash, se­cu­rity and up­keep, amounted “Well into tens of thou­sands of dol­lars.”

She also char­ac­ter­ized the criticism of the bank’s means of in­form­ing cus­tomers as “a fair point” that is “cer­tainly some­thing we’re go­ing to be con­sid­er­ing go­ing for­ward.”

Mayor Pen­well said Thurs­day he had made a few ini­tial calls to other banks to in­quire about in­ter­est in in­stalling an­other ABM in the community.

He said he be­lieves a large of per­cent­age of cur­rent Sco­tia­bank cus­tomers in the town would be will­ing to changeover should the ef­fort prove suc­cess­ful.

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Sco­tia­bank re­cently posted a sign an­nounc­ing plans to take its au­to­mated bank­ing ma­chine (ABM) in For­tune out of ser­vice Oct. 12, a move than has raised the ire of res­i­dents.

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