Monday 19 February 2018

Ellie Donnelly: Bank bailout has cost the Irish taxpayer more than €60bn, is it too much to ask for a face at the counter?

The Central Bank of Ireland headquarters on North Wall Quay, Dublin (Stock picture)
The Central Bank of Ireland headquarters on North Wall Quay, Dublin (Stock picture)
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Recently I went to my local AIB bank to lodge a sum of money into my account, and despite the branch of the bank being located in Dublin city centre, there were only two members of staff available who could process the lodgement.

Needless to say there were large queues in front of both counters and I was advised by a member of staff to use the self-service lodgement facility.

Within 10 minutes of leaving the bank, I rang AIB’s telephone banking service seeking confirmation, well reassurance to be honest, that the lodgement had gone into my account.

It’s not a case that I’m not tech savvy – I have more technology devices than I have time to use – but there are certain things for which I want human reassurance and my banking is one of them.

Afterwards I started thinking about how banks are changing and found myself getting very annoyed about what I feel is the dehumanisation of what was, and still is for many people, a local institution.

Read more: Seven ways banking has changed since the 1980s

The bailout of the Irish financial system cost the Irish taxpayer more than €60bn, and yet, around the country financial institutions, among them banks, are announcing branch closures and staff cuts.

Just this week it was revealed that large numbers of Bank of Ireland branches will now only offer the option of self-service machines for lodging and withdrawing cash.

More than one-in-three Bank of Ireland branches will no longer accept cash or coins at the counter from the end of this year, if I’m uncomfortable with dealing with a machine rather than a bank employee, I can’t even being to imagine how uncomfortable this must be for older people.

On top of this consumers are dealing with maximum withdraw amounts and bank changes.

The maximum withdraw that a person can make in the bank is €1,300, while it is even lower using your debit card at an ATM - €600 - not exactly helpful if a customer needs to withdraw a large amount of cash for whatever reason.

In light of everything that has happened with our banks over the past number of years I think, and I am sure I am not alone in this, that us, the customers, should be getting a little bit more in return for our custom.

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