I must admit to having had a modicum of sympathy with RBS over its plans to close some branches. If we accept that the way NHS Scotland and Police Scotland deliver services must be responsive to the way their clients use those services, then we would be hypocritical to disallow that same argument simply because RBS is a profit-taking enterprise rather than a public service. But there is a problem with the way RBS goes about responding to an increase in the use of online banking by closing branches. The change in the way people access bank services is general. The closures are specific to communities.
Every branch is affected by the changes in the way people access bank services. But only particular branches are being closed. There is, as far as I am aware, no persuasive evidence that branches being closed are more affected by technology-driven change than others. And, in many instances, there are factors relating especially to rural branches which seem to have been afforded little or no weight in the process of deciding which branches to close.
All banks are facing the same issues relating to changes in the behaviour of customers. All branches are affected. But only selected branches are being closed. And it’s far from clear that the criteria used in selecting branches for closure is related in any way either to the extent to which they are affected by behavioural changes or their utility to the local community. The suspicion must always be that the principal, if not the only criterion is cost-saving.
Hence the perception of unfairness. It is all but impossible to avoid the conclusion that, in weighing up the arguments for closure against the case for retention RBS has been very selective about what gets put on the scales.
And now we find that they’ve also had their thumb on those scales. The argument for closure has evidently been augmented by assurances about mobile banking services that had neither substance nor weight.
But why should RBS care? They are already despised. Is it possible for anybody to think any less of them? They have been liberated from any requirement to maintain their good reputation and are now free to act according to their true ugly nature.
If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.