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Archive for January 9th, 2009

Banking the Modern Way

I opened a ‘grown-up’ cheque account with the Bank of  Scotland in 1977, graduating from a childhood Deposit Account.    I have held onto this account since then, even through the Halifax disaster which will result in a merger   takeover by Lloyds TSB.   It is such a shame to see a well liked pillar of the establishment with over 300 years of history behind it going down the tubes.

Bank of Scotland HQ building

Bank of Scotland HQ building

But banking has been heading for a fall, and we customers no longer get the service we once did.     In the farming world, things are done fairly traditionally.    As a farming customer, I met my bank manager anually, where we talked about the past farming year and discussed requirements for the year ahead.    This was sometimes at the bank branch, and sometimes at the farm.    A nice civilised way of doing things.    Nowadays this  is done by a phone call from someone I have not met in an Edinburgh office and who does not sound like she has been on a farm, ever.      It is just not the same at all.

And what has happened to my bank statements?      For years and years these came in monthly – one sheet of paper just over half a size of A4 showing money in and money out.     What more do you need?    Well, statements suddenly grew to A4 sized and had money in and out, but now the bank takes two double sided sheets of A4 to provide essentially the same info.    Not only that, but there is a message telling me to  Save Paper.

No, I don’t want my statement online, and if the Bank wants to save paper and do the green thing, it can cut it by over half by getting back to simple statements, once a month on one bit of paper.    Is it so hard?    The key information fits on one side of paper, leaving 3 sides of utter guff.

In December, I received a statement from 30th November to 26th December (2 sheets) and another one for three days from the 27th December to the 31st December (another 2 sheets of A4) covering all of three transactions.    And in case you think this looks like the bank was squaring off the year, November was also a two statement month (4 sheets).

Perhaps we will get back to normal in January.    I am not anti HBOS – I have been a customer for years, their online banking is good (‘business’ is much better than ‘personal’), and they support lots of sports and arts in Scotland (surely under threat now?).     It is just that they seem to have forgotten all about customer relationships:   face to face really matters.

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