We had a call on today’s show from Christine, who, among other things, was complaining about this initiative from a city business group which is aiming to make Cork a cashless town. At first I was inclined to dismiss her, but after a bit of thought I realised that she’s got a point.
We are being pushed into being bank customers whether we like it or not, and apart from the fees, there are a couple of major problems with this. One is the distinctly appalling walk-in services. The other is the assumption that you can do everything online. If you live in an area with bad broadband – which many people still do – this is no good to you. Equally, if you are not web-literate – which many people still are not – it’s almost impossible to complete basic transactions. But I digress.
At the weekend, I was anxious to lodge a substantial amount of money I’d fundraised on Friday. I wanted it out of the house, somewhere I couldn’t lose it, and gone. Having a substantial amount of cash in your home isn’t a great idea, so I did the sensible thing and went to lodge it.
Well, I tried to lodge it.
I went first to the AIB banking centre on Winthrop Street which has ATMs and lodgment machines usually open seven days. The cash lodgment machines were out of order. I checked AIB South Mall. Entirely closed, and both external ATMs are withdrawal-only.
Nobody on AIB’s Twitter service could assist me – they don’t communicate by DM, and I wasn’t about to announce to the world that I was walking around with a large amount of cash in hand.
Their website doesn’t have a list of lodgment machines – or not one that I could find, anyway. I didn’t feel like being on hold with customer services for half an hour, so I chose the other option. Today, after safely divesting myself of that money, I asked and they answered. Just one, then.
Sure, I’m a customer of both our pillar banks. What could possibly go wrong?!
I went to Bank of Ireland on Patrick Street, which has a large lobby area with machines. Closed. I went to BOI South Mall. Also closed.
Then I remembered – because there isn’t one ATM or bank on my part of the Northside – that we counted before, and Douglas has more banking facilities than the entire Northside. Surely the good people of Douglas have access to this wondrous facility, I reasoned. So I went to Douglas.
Douglas Court Shopping Centre has its own branch of Bank of Ireland which is a large lobby containing machines. It was closed. Even though all it has is machines, and the rest of the place was open.
There is one external lodgment service for BOI in Cork, in Little Island. It is listed on their website but on Saturday (on an iPhone) I couldn’t locate it. But why is it miles out of the city?
We’re hearing a lot at the moment about how Cork is Ireland’s second city, and if this is the level of service available in the second biggest business hub in the country, I really don’t know how businesses are supposed to operate. It’s unsafe, it’s inconvenient, and it’s not the level of service we are entitled to as both paying customers and shareholders.
So, I’m inclined to agree with Christine. In a world where ‘cashless’ still doesn’t make a lot of sense – as Richard says – we still need to operate with cash. .
This is not the way to do it.