Bunhill: Red tape hanging from the branches

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The Independent Online
NOW I know what the high street banks mean when they talk about centralising their branch networks. My attempt last week to phone Mr Winfindale, a manager in the Exeter branch of the Co-operative Bank, went like this:

Woman (brightly): Customer services, how can I help you?

Bunhill: Mr Winfindale, please.

(Rather less brightly): What is the purpose of your call?

It's personal. Mr Winfindale, please.

Where does Mr Winfindale work?

(Puzzled): Er, that is the Exeter branch of the Co-op Bank, isn't it?

No, this is the bank's central switchboard in Skelmersdale.

But I asked directory inquiries for the number of the Exeter branch.

Yes. We issue this number for all our branches.

You mean the actual numbers of your branches aren't in the phone book?

Correct.

And all attempts to call branches come through to you in Skelmersdale?

Correct.

Well, could you at least route me through to your Exeter branch.

No.

Why not?

All our administration is handled centrally. There's really no need for you to call the branch.

(Plaintively): But I want to speak to Mr Winfindale in Exeter.

(Persuasively): It can all be done centrally, sir . . .

(Whimpering): But I want to speak to Mr Winfindale. Couldn't you at least give me the number of the Exeter branch?

No, sir.

Why not?

We don't have it.

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