Saturday, 9 June 2018

Barclays Bank is Closing

I'd been planning to do a little gentle retail therapy in Hereford (I needed new pumps/gym type shoes for summer) - and then I got the letter from Barclays, telling me that the Hay-on-Wye branch will be closing on Friday 28th September.
I don't often swear, but on this occasion I think it was an appropriate reaction.
An hour on the bus on the way to Hereford made me think I was feeling calmer - still furious, but calmer.
So the first thing I did when I got to Hereford was go round to the Barclays branch there.
It's all do-it-yourself screens now, so I queued for the one desk that has real people behind it, and I said I wanted to make a complaint. As soon as I mentioned Hay, the young lady went to speak into some sort of intercom on the wall to tell the manager.
After a short wait, the manager came out to see me and took me into a little side office.
Honestly, I can't fault the staff in the branch at all. They were as helpful and professional as they could be, and I did my best to be polite, and told them that I knew it wasn't their fault and I wasn't angry with them.
The bank had obviously been prepared to receive complaints, because the manager had a leaflet all ready to give me, explaining the decision and offering alternative ways to bank.
They claim that only 67 people use the Hay branch exclusively for their banking, which I find difficult to believe, with other customers using telephone and online banking more. They also say that they have "taken into consideration the availability of other branches in the wider community", and then say that the next nearest branch is in Brecon. Oh, and there's a free cash machine at the Garage at Llyswen….
I informed the manager that the bus fare to Brecon is £8.30 (Explorer ticket), and the bus only runs every two hours, so that's half the day gone every time a customer wants to use another branch in the wider community.
The leaflet also says there is help available for people who want to switch to online banking.
The other option appears to be the Post Office, which is on the market at the moment. They recently had a cash machine put in, though it's had teething problems and breakdowns.
I have no wish to do online banking, so it looks like it's the Post Office or nothing for me - which led me to ask why I should remain a Barclays customer at all, having banked with Barclays since 1977? She had no answer for that.
I also mentioned local businesses, who need to bank their cash frequently, and get change for the tills. Are they supposed to drive across to Brecon to do this? The manager had no real answer to that, either, but mentioned some sort of collection service that might be offered, and said that all the businesses that bank with Barclays will be contacted.
The manager also said that, although Barclays was taking feedback, the decision had been made.

I feel a bit sorry for Gareth Ratcliffe. No sooner had he posted on his Facebook page that he was going away for a couple of days, all this blew up and he's been taking calls on his mobile. Most people commenting are against the closure, and are angry. Barclays is the only bank left in Hay, since the HSBC and Nat West closed down.
The Nat West send a van once a week. They've already changed the original arrangement of Thursday lunch time for an hour. At the moment it comes to the front of the Cinema Bookshop on a Friday, for three quarters of an hour.

Having done all that I could, I went shopping, and I did find some nice pairs of pumps.


Colin Ladd said...

You let them off lightly. Spineless and jobsworth come to mind, of those random blurts that might be publishable.

Ian Charlesworth said...

I can't believe that they cited the cash machine in Llyswen as a viable alternative. There is no direct bus service between Hay and Llyswen so to use this cash machine you would have to catch the bus into Brecon, wait and then catch the bus out to Llyswen, get your cash and wait 2 hours for the return to Brecon where you will also have to wait some time before catching a bus back to Hay. It can in no way be described as a "Free" cash machine no matter how you travel to it since even walking would require another new pair of Daps in the end!

Alex said...

I'm curious what you'd have a business do that isn't generating enough revenue from one of its sites?

I completely get your frustration, but we sometimes forget that banks are businesses, have rent and (in Hay especially) astronomical rates to pay, as well as all their other overheads.

They can't keep it open as a loss leader.

I can only hope that this gives the Post Office a boost in trade and makes it much more likely that it will be able to survive.

Eigon said...

Barclays Bank as a whole made a profit of £3.54 billion last year.
They can afford to keep branches open if they wanted to.
There's also the problem of how they arrived at their figures - I was sorting out the banking for the shop where I work this morning, and there were three days' worth of banking from the days that Barclays was not open, plus a request for change. Back when Barclays was open 5 days a week, that would have been 4 visits to the bank, but now is counted as only one visit. So no wonder there are fewer visits to the bank.