‘Bank of Ireland closures – a bitter blow’

 

Sir, – I disagree with your doomsday attitude to the closure of bank branches (“The Irish Times view on Bank of Ireland closures: a bitter blow”, March 2nd).

With my online account, I haven’t entered a bank branch in almost 10 years, so closure will make no difference to me. However, I see a positive aspect of the bank branch closures. With all routine lodgements and withdrawals being possible in one’s local post office, and other bank business still possible by old-fashioned post or by telephone, the future of the post office network will be strengthened, hopefully guaranteeing no more post office closures, while those with no internet will still have full access to all banking services. – Yours, etc,

MARY MORRISSEY,

Castletownbere,

Co Cork.

Sir, – The reduced footfall in Bank of Ireland branches in recent years is not merely the result of a preference for online banking, as the bank suggests.

It’s as a result of Bank of Ireland removing cash counters from many branches, closing business cash centres, and having reduced opening hours and limited services available in the remaining branches that have a cash service. It’s also because it was a market leader in being the first to remove free banking for customers who retained a minimal cash balance in their accounts. In other words, most Bank of Ireland customers were left with no option but to use online banking whether they wanted to or not. We are not ready for a cashless society yet.

It is surprising that more customers haven’t switched to other banks, but changing banks is one of the most disruptive switches that can be made and there are limited alternatives. Think of all the direct debits, standing orders, and regular payments attached to debit or credit cards, which we all rely on.

The time it takes to change bank and then notify all service providers is so disruptive that it fills most people with dread.

When Bank of Ireland feels the hunger again after customers vote against the change with their feet, they will find it very hard to get that business back. When older customers whose cash deposits are a nuisance at the moment, many of whom don’t have access to online banking or don’t trust it, take their accounts to a bank that still values its retail customers, will we see Bank of Ireland struggling to meet capital requirements when the economy recovers from Covid and lending demand resumes? – Yours, etc,

B KEOGH,

Rathfarnham,

Dublin 14.

Sir, – Bank of Ireland closes rural branches on the basis of business moving online. Rural Ireland has the poorest level of online connectivity and in many cases no broadband. To close these services during a Level 5 lockdown is nothing but corporate cynicism at its worst. – Yours, etc,

Cllr JOHN MULLEN,

(Fianna Fáil),

Tinahely,

Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Bank of Ireland’s decision to close a large number of branches is disgraceful. The people who will be most sharply affected will be pensioners, those who do not or cannot use online services, and those in small towns with no other bank (and perhaps no post office). The bank’s customers should not have to bear the blunt force of management’s failures. – Yours, etc,

DAN DONOVAN,

Dungarvan,

Co Waterford.

Sir, – Bank of Ireland announced the closure of 103 bank branches throughout the country. Senior management at the bank has, for some years now, used every tactic and strategy to push the customers from the branches. And now it has the temerity to cite the change in behaviour of the customers as if the migration were voluntary. This is the law of intended consequences operating on foot of a concerted senior management strategy. – Yours, etc,

PADDY GOGARTY ,

Portmarnock,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – Francesca McDonagh, group chief executive of Bank of Ireland, presented, as one might expect, a well-rehearsed communication to the media with regard to the bank’s closure of 103 of its branches on this island. Ms McDonagh informed us that we had voted with our feet, branches are no longer getting the footfall they once did and customers are, supposedly, saying “loudly and clearly” that they want more digital and fewer branches.

Among the statistics she quoted in support of the bank’s decision was that the number of people visiting branches is down just over half of what it was in 2017 and that three out of four customers in the branches that are due to close had not set foot in the branch in the past year.

It seems to me that there is at least a veiled “Covid ate my homework” kind of excuse here. It is most disingenuous of Bank of Ireland to use selective customer statistics, especially pertaining to the frequenting of branches, when for a number of years past the bank’s strategy was to contrive any means, short of bollards, whereby customers and their footfall were to be kept outside its doors. – Yours, etc,

MICHAEL GANNON,

Kilkenny.

A chara, – This recent announcement is a reflection of how rural Ireland is slowly being abandoned. Burtonport lost its Garda station, followed closely by its post office. Now we are faced with a return trip of 116km if we go from Burtonport to Letterkenny, 80km if we travel to Falcarragh, and 125km if we travel to Donegal Town in search of personal contact banking. This is the scenario if Bank of Ireland goes ahead with the proposed closure of the Bunbeg, Dungloe and Glenties branches, not to mention the financial repercussions to local businesses and employment.Where do all the rural investors and loyal customers figure in this?

MARIAN QUINN,

Letterkenny,

Co Donegal.