Minister Kathleen Lynch: 'Bank of Ireland has a very short memory... Four years ago their customers dug them out of a very deep hole'
Minister of State Kathleen Lynch has said Bank Of Ireland will have a "short term memory" if it pushes ahead with its plans to restrict over-the-counter withdrawals and lodgements.
The bank was hit with a storm of protest after the Irish Independent revealed its plans to restrict over-the-counter withdrawals and lodgements.
After sustained criticism from groups representing consumers, farmers, older people, rural dwellers and bank workers, the bank conceded that what it called "vulnerable" customers could continue to get cash and make withdrawals of smaller amounts of money at branch counters.
Bank of Ireland has been forced into an embarrassing climb-down over plans to heavily restrict cash transactions in its branches.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan also weighed in, describing the changes as "surprising and unnecessary".
Minister Lynch told today's Morning Ireland that if the bank were to restrict over-the-counter withdrawals and lodgements, they would be forgetting about a portion of their loyal customer base.
“When you see a queue in a bank, it’s people that want to speak to someone. Those that want to use ATMs, that want to do electronic banking – they’re not in that queue.”
“We’re not just talking about elderly people, we are talking about people with intellectual disability, acquired brain injury, people who are not computer literate, people who are not literate, and we should consider that as well.
“I really do think this bank has a very short memory. Four years ago, the people that they are now trying to direct into a different form of banking dug them out of a very deep hole, and they should consider those customers,” the Minister told Morning Ireland.
“They should consider that loyalty and there should be a reward for that loyalty, and it’s usually called customer service.”
"The people who are not in that queue are people who are not comfortable with modern technology"
Bank of Ireland plans to introduce new rules later this month for over the counter transactions with staff, including a €700 minimum for cash withdrawals and a €3,000 minimum for cash lodgements. The measures are part of an effort by the bank to push customers towards using ATMs and self-service machines.
However, following a huge backlash, the bank said it would continue to allow older customers and those unfamiliar with technology to make cash transactions over the counter.
But there are fears other banks may follow suit and seek to reduce customer interactions with staff. This has led to concerns about the possibility of further bank branch closures, particularly in rural areas.
A spokesman for Bank of Ireland said it had no plans to cut its fees and charges despite the planned introduction of the new rules.