Banks are hunting down their live customers like dogs
Banks want you at home doing all their work for them online
I know the name of the man with the last old-fashioned bank book in Dún Laoghaire. The bank has tried for years to get it off him but he won’t surrender it – and this man is a bit of a computer whiz and could do online banking if he wished.
Still, the screws continue to tighten on your inconvenient live customer who is, as we all know, a loser.
A local businesswoman ran down to open an account in a local bank. She had a cheque for €5,000 with her and all her documentation. “A lady with a clipboard gave me someone’s card and said we could make an appointment for Thursday.” This was Tuesday. Thursday is this businesswoman’s busiest day. She went elsewhere.
Or take bank transfers as one mad and exotic example. Bank Of Ireland won’t do them – since October 2012, the bank’s head office said in an official statement. The statement, which was kindly and swiftly issued at my request, said Bank of Ireland is “committed to communities nationwide” and staying in them when other banks leave.
All I wanted to do was send a small sum to a German company. “Oh we don’t do bank transfers,” said the customer wrangler, who never did volunteer his name. “Under €3,000. You can do that online.”
I left the bank. Then I went back into the bank. What about other banks? I asked. Surely they do bank transfers. The customer wrangler said he didn’t know.
I crossed the road, walked 20 yards and found that Ulster Bank will do a transfer to Germany, if I open a bank account with them, for 51 cent.
A colleague has a similar experience in Galway. “I hadn’t been in a bank for ages,” she said – she is not a member of the Resistance. She owed someone €500 and her bank told her that it was “ not possible to do a bank transfer to another bank. You have to do that online.”
My colleague had no problem with that. But she was required to register her mobile phone number online. It was going to take five working days for the activation code for the mobile phone to be issued. It was then going to take two working days for the transfer itself to be cleared.
In the end my colleague handed the woman to whom she owed money a cheque. She asked the customer wrangler what happened with older customers, or in areas of the country where there is no broadband coverage.
It’s like this: the taxpayer bailed out the banks. In return the banks’ live customers are being hunted down like dogs. All we are saying is – give peace a chance.