Fears for older customers after Nationwide slashed Sawbridgeworth branch hours


The reduction in opening hours for Sawbridgeworth’s last bank branch has raised fears that older customers may be left behind.

Nationwide announced last week that it was closing its Knight Street branch on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, leaving customers just two days for face-to-face service.

The construction company said it will change its opening hours from Monday, November 29, with the branch only open Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

National Construction Company, Knight Street, Sawbridgeworth. Photo: Vikki Lince. (52296726)

In an online statement, Nationwide gave the reason for the change, a reduction in the number of visitors to the branch by 75% between 2015 and 2020 and claimed that “81% of the Sawbridgeworth branch members are already registered for the bank in line “.

He further said, “The pandemic and the changes it has forced upon us then opened our eyes to all the different ways we could meet the needs of our members (sic) from our branches.”

He directed customers to the Harlow and Bishop’s Stortford branches and added that the changes meant that “our colleagues will be able to meet the needs of even more members, whether it is responding to their messages by online, answer calls or offer video appointments to those who need help with more complex financial products, such as mortgages ”.

But Kerry Reynolds, director of the Hailey Center at Sayesbury Manor, Bell Street, which offers activities for people over 50, said some of her repeat customers were “completely frustrated” by the lack of face-to-face banking services in the area. city.

Kerry revealed that some people changed banks after TSB closed its Bell Street branch and Knight Street Barclays followed suit.

“Everything is online now, but the majority [of older people] don’t get savvy online – they just don’t trust it, ”Kerry said.

“A 93-year-old man needs help getting to the bank. What is he going to do ? He cannot stand in line on the two opening days.

Commenting on the town’s Facebook group, Elizabeth Day said at the age of 80 that she “doesn’t want to have to go to BS every time I want to go to the bank.”

Other residents criticized the city’s lack of banking services, with some saying even ATMs are often empty or not working.

Nationwide insisted it was “committed to our branches” and said it was keeping its promise to “continue to maintain at least one branch in every city we are in now, until 2023”.

Ironically, the Sawbridgeworth branch’s website has the slogan “here today, here tomorrow” – residents fear it will no longer be like “gone tomorrow”.

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