For many years, I banked at the usually very busy NatWest branch in Bamber Bridge but, eventually, it fell victim to the ‘streamlining’ process and was closed.
We customers were assured that business would continue as normal since there was a branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland just down the road and, as NatWest and RBS were part of the same group, all our banking needs could be transacted there seamlessly.
Fine and dandy until the Bamber Bridge branch of RBS was recently closed too.
So now any across-the-counter needs necessitated a trip into Preston but at least the ATMs remained in situ if a cash withdrawal was needed - better than nothing, I thought to myself, despite feeling that I and many other ‘valued customers’ had been misled.
On March 12, I went into Bamber Bridge to make such a cash withdrawal.
Imagine my surprise on finding that not only had RBS been boarded up but that the ATMs had been removed from the site. Imagine my annoyance on then finding that the NatWest ATM, which remained in place on the wall of what had once been the branch of this bank, was out of order.
We are constantly being told that we are all moving to a cashless society and I freely admit that much of my financial business can be carried out online, but is it not the case that cash is a pretty useful thing to have, especially when banks have deserted the high street and are taking away the ATM facility with undue haste?
I cannot be the only bank customer who feels that I am being alienated from my own money by a banking system which has quite forgotten the meaning of customer service and which is doing its best to make the absence of physical currency a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Malcolm T Mynott