Fortune residents upset at Scotiabank ABM removal
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.
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.