Bank of Ireland has been forced into a partial climbdown after it was widely condemned for imposing severe restrictions on the type of over-the-counter transactions it will allow its staff to handle in future.
Under new rules to be introduced later this month, Bank of Ireland customers will have to make withdrawals of less than €700 from ATMs and will also have to make small cheque lodgements at ATMs rather than at the counter.
However, the move provoked anger. Advocacy group Age Action said the bank was "ignoring the needs of older customers", while Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said the changes were "surprising and unnecessary".
Defending its plans, the bank accepted that the changes would be difficult for some customers to handle, but insisted they affected just 4 per cent of total transactions last year.
Cash lodgements of up to €3,000 and lodgements involving fewer than 15 cheques will have to be processed using the bank's dedicated ATMs, rather than at the counter, it said.
In response to Mr Noonan’s statement, the bank appeared to soften its stance on how it would handle low-level cash transactions for at least some of its customers.
It said “vulnerable customers, together with those elderly customers who are not comfortable using self-service channels or other technology solutions, will be assisted by branch staff to use the available in-branch services”.
Welcoming the pledge to help “more vulnerable” customers, Mr Noonan said he would expect the bank “to fully honour” it by ensuring that proper arrangements are made “where required”.