The banks have been in a campaign to reduce staff and drive customers to use automated teller machines (ATM) and online banking. During this transition we have seen long lines in and outside the bank filled with customers who do not understand the digital age of banking and are just plain stubborn or not computer literate.
Well, fortunately I understand how it is done. It took a while, but I think I got the hang of it, except last week when the system did not work for me. It started when I transferred some funds from one bank to another and as the days went by, the funds didn’t show up. Finally, after one week I went into the bank to ask where the money was. Only to be told to go to the bank where I made the transfer from, so I went online and called the number and answered about ten questions to make sure I was the owner of the account. Half way through the conversation, I couldn’t understand what she was saying, as the accent was not one of ours. Due to this, I had to put my daughter on the phone and ask her to talk to the lady, who eventually told us she couldn’t help and that we had to go into the branch for help.
I went to the bank and after forty-five minutes of waiting I left, as I had an appointment and I couldn’t wait any longer. I went back to the bank two days later and after finding a parking spot, I headed to the bank only to turn around due to a lengthy line outside. I decided to write a note to the bank giving all the information. Surprisingly I received a reply in less than an hour with promises to investigate. I now have to wait for them to get back to me. In the meantime, my funds are in cyberspace and I can’t get my hands on it.
During this time my digital nightmare continued. I made a deposit through the bank’s ATM machine and the contents was one check drawn on the same branch. I was hoping to get to use these funds now. Three days later the hold is still on my account and I can’t use the funds. I have been told that the bank only clears the ATM once a day and this is probably why my account has not been credited yet, but you know if these banks want us to use the ATM, they should make them work for us and not have me waiting three days for my account to be credited.
If the bank has to clear the ATM three times a day to ensure happy customers, that is what needs to be done. Clients should not be penalized because they have reduced the number of branches and service that comes along with it. Now they are talking about the elimination of checks, which will force more of us to do online banking. I feel for those senior citizens whose life has been turned upside down by these financial institutions.
As Thomas Paine said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. He is also a former president of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of West Nassau. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.