Friday, 9 May 2008

Abbey - still at it

The story so far: In February I wrote to Abbey's Chief Executive about the appalling service levels at my local branch in West London. I also reported that a bucket in front of the cashiers desk had been collecting water from a leaky ceiling for months. Abbey 'escalated' the problem to a regional level. Next thing I knew there were 2 buckets catching the water!

This morning I went to the branch to pay in a cheque (For all the hi-techness of online banking when someone pays you by cheque there's not much you can do with it at your PC).

It was shut. Yes. 10.25 am Friday 9th May, my only local Abbey branch shut.

A small handwritten note was taped to the firmly locked glass door.

'Due to unforeseen circumstances we are unable to open the branch until further notice'

It's the kind of notice hurriedly exiting staff put up when the liquidators arrive, or the bailiffs turn up. It's not the kind of notice you expect to see in a branch of the international high street banking giant Banco Santander.

Is my money safe? Has Abbey just gone Northern Rock?

When I checked the online business pages this morning all appeared as well as can be expected in the banking world. No hint of Abbey doing a Northern Rock.

So the huddle of confused Abbey customers wondering what tragedy had struck the branch were mystified by the notice in the window.

Then a member of staff arrived, reached inside the letterbox and pressed a buzzer. Another person came to open the door. She was met with a barrage of questions from the barred customers;

'Will you be open on Monday?'

Monday! Never mind Monday - why aren't you open today?

'I can't say?'

Is it due to a shortage of staff? I ask. (One member of staff has only just arrived for work, no one else can be seen inside the darkened branch).

'It isn't that'.

'When will you open?'

'Perhaps in an hour'.

'Wouldn't it be more helpful if your closure notice said that?'

But with that the door was sliding closed again...

Customers outside. Money inside. Exterior ATM broken.
Well done Abbey. Business as usual then.

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