The independent London newspaper

‘Nervous’ customers join long queues as banks close early

Town Hall chief fears for residents who do not have access to internet banking at home

08 May, 2020 — By Sam Ferguson

Customers queue outside HSBC in Finsbury Park

LONG queues outside banks have led to concerns over the challenges faced by those who rely on regular visits – and social distancing in the line.

Several banks and building societies have cut back branch opening hours during the coronavirus crisis.

HSBC, Nationwide and Halifax in Seven Sisters Road have all seen long queues during the week with all three open for just four hours a day, between 10am and 2pm.

A customer outside HSBC in Seven Sisters Road told the Tribune he had queued for two days in a row to withdraw money, only to see the branch close by the time they got to the front.

Another customer, who asked not to be named, said they did not have internet or phone banking, and felt “nervous” coming to queue every week on the pavement for long periods of time, due to the number of people in a narrow space.

After reports of angry customers outside a branch of HSBC, the bank apologised and added it would ensure that every customer who was in the queue before 2pm would be served.

A spokesman said: “We are enforcing social distancing measures in our branches for the safety of our customers as well as our branch colleagues.

“This inevitably means there will be times when there is a queue outside the branch, and we apologise for that. We have recently improved how the queues are managed at our Finsbury Park branch and will do our best to ensure every customer who is in the queue by the current closing time is served.”

A spokesman for the Halifax said: “The temporary change to our opening hours will help us to safeguard essential services across the country, maintain access to cash for our customers, and ensure those who are vulnerable or in financial difficulty can continue to speak to our colleagues.

A spokesman for the Nationwide said: “We understand some members still need to visit a branch, but where possible, we are asking all members to use our online and mobile services so we can focus on those who have no other way of banking with us in branch.”

Council business chief Asima Shaikh said she would be writing to banks about the shorter opening hours and concerns that people with no access to internet banking would be excluded.

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