I have been a Barclays customer ever since I left school, that's a long time ago, and generally speaking I have been very happy with them, it's been a good arrangement for both sides. I popped into our beloved Wanstead branch in the High Street the other day to pay in some money, the young lady who served me told me that we were going to lose the behind the counter staff in the near future, possibly one will stay. I must have looked alarmed, she explained that soon to pay money in I would pop it in an envelope and deposit the envelope into a machine. To draw money out, if it was under £300, I would have to use another machine. Some of the staff that are currently behind the counter will be in front of the counter to help you with the machines. Not all of them however, some will be leaving.
Now call me old fashioned but do I want to be dealing with a machine instead of a human being, will the machine say 'good morning Mr Wilkinson', enquire how I am and can they help me with anything? Will I feel silly asking the machine if it's 'had a nice weekend' as I do the teller on Monday morning? Alarmingly this seems to be a growing trend, the young lady informed me that several other banks were adopting the same approach. I notice that in a certain DIY chain the self service tills outnumber the 'human' tills and the supermarket that I use when I can't get to our excellent local shops now has self service tills.
There were four or five other people in the branch as this news was imparted, voicing there opinions none of them wanted machines instead of people. I assume this saves the bank money on staff, will these people find other jobs, I hope so. Will my bank charges remain the same? I'm sure they will.
It just seems to me very sad that we are losing the personal touch and old fashioned good, polite service.
Wanstead is a village, I hope this doesn't result in a gradual chipping away of our village style life, especially when at the other end of the scale our local community is working so hard to preserve it. We have excellent local shops, a butcher, a green grocer among them, perhaps it's time for a local bank run by local people.