RBS to send customers to the post office when it shuts down branches after announcing plans to axe 420 outlets this year
- Royal Bank of Scotland is axing 420 outlets this year in a push to save money
- Firm claims this is because customers prefer to go online to do their banking
- Post offices are among places customers are being told to go to after closure
RBS staff are taking customers to nearby post offices and showing them how to make financial transactions when their local branch shuts.
Royal Bank of Scotland boss Ross McEwan said families hit by branch closures were being escorted to the nearest post office so they can learn about the services it offered, such as depositing cash and cashing cheques.
His comments angered campaigners seeking to protect Britain’s shrinking branch network.
Royal Bank of Scotland is axing 420 outlets this year in a push to save money, which has angered campaigners seeking to protect Britain’s shrinking branch network
Labour MP John Mann, a member of the Treasury select committee, said: ‘The reports that RBS staff in closing branches are escorting customers to post offices are Monty Python-style banking – they would be funny if they weren’t true.
‘This is one of many stories which prove that the banks’ line that customers no longer use branches is fiction.’
RBS is axing 420 outlets this year in a push to save money.
It has always claimed that it is closing branches because customers do not want to use them any more and would rather go online instead.
But Mr McEwan admitted that the lender offers customers training on how to use a mobile phone so they can go online instead – suggesting many do not know what they are doing.
Speaking to MPs on the Scottish affairs select committee, he said: ‘We are asking all of our branch staff to have conversations with customers about the different ways of operating, be it online or through mobile.
‘We have what we call text experts who are helping customers actually use a mobile phone. I make no excuses for that, this is our most popular channel now.’
He added that the bank uses a six-month window after a closure is announced to teach staff to tell customers where they can go instead – including nearby post offices.
RBS staff are taking customers to nearby post offices and showing them how to make financial transactions when their local branch shuts
This is important in rural areas with poor internet coverage, where some customers struggle to get banking to work online.
Mr McEwan said: ‘Once we’ve made the decision to close a branch and we’ve given people time, we do then ask them to have a direct conversation about the other ways of banking – which could be through a mobile, it could be through a post office.
‘I’ve been to see a post office myself, where the postmaster was delighted that we were escorting customers across.
‘Where there’s not broadband, our people are taking customers across to the Post Office to introduce them to the postmaster so they have a relationship going forward.’
Campaigners argue that bank branch closures drastically reduce footfall on high streets.
Shopkeepers and vulnerable people are hit particularly hard, and forced to travel miles to access basic financial services.
Mike Cherry, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: ‘The fact that RBS is dedicating resources to switching former branch customers to other banking methods shows that the demand for in-person support is there.
‘The best-resourced, highest-tech post offices are in urban areas, not in the rural communities where financial inclusion is more likely to be an issue.’
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