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Epic Fails

So I switch on BBC News and it is the funeral of Vaclav Havel. And you know what these rolling news things are like. In the left pane of the screen is “Live From Prague: Vaclav Havel’s funeral” and in a smaller right pane they have on shuffle Mr Havel’s “greatest hits” – Mr Havel, greets Bill Clinton, Mr Havel signs a treaty etc. This the BBC helpfully flags as “library pictures”. You don’t say.

(At this point I don’t have to remark on the difference in tone of the morning for the two “Father’s of their Nations” who recently joined the choir invisible).

Anyways now onto something else. I went out for some washing powder this morning and I clocked the single cashpoint (the other one was in the Co-op and was stolen months back and not replaced) in the village I live in. It belongs to one of the two banks on my high street – the NatWest. It is out of monies. Great! The day before Christmas Eve. Anyone betting that it won’t be in service till the day after Boxing Day at the earliest? Now this does happen but it has happened more often since that bank only opened on Mondays and Fridays to “cut costs”. Fair enough and all but the other bank in the village is an RBS (and doesn’t have a cashpoint). Now call me simple-minded but seeing as NatWest and RBS are the same companies nationalized institutions a more sensible and prudent option would have been to maintain full service at one of the buildings and sell the other one. NatWest’s advertising slogan is “Helpful Banking” and they boast things like “UK only call centres”. Magic! But you know what I’d find helpful (and I bank with NatWest) is being able to get to my money.


  1. RAB says:

    I think it’s time to have a run on the banks, before there’s a real run on the banks. 2012 could well be the year of Under mattress banking.

  2. Sam Duncan says:

    My cousin used to work for the Clydesdale, and I seem to I recall her being on call to replenish their machines on New Year’s Day (which is, of course, a far more sacred holiday up here than Christmas).

    The absence of any need to bail out Clydesale probably has more to do with its Australian ownership than better day-to-day organisation of the basics – dare I say even a better work ethic? – but it’s interesting that it seems to be relatively okay while the Banks that Can’t Be Arsed to Help nearly went down the tubes, isn’t it?

    RAB, you could be right. I was informed last week that the new rate on my “high interest” ISA is 0.4%, down from 0.9%. What’s the bloody point of that? I’d hardly be any worse off with it under the matress, and if having it there started burning a hole in my pocket and I bought something that would hold its value, I’d probably be a good deal better off. I don’t have enough to think about serious gold, but I’m definitely considering buying a sovereign or two in the new year, or maybe a decent-ish watch.

  3. john b says:

    RBS had to sell their English RBS branches and their Scottish NatWest branches as a condition of taking state aid (well, they could’ve sold another random selection of branches, but decided it’d be easiest to get rid of the minority brands). So the “RBS” in your village is either owned, or about to be owned, depending on how the deal is going, by Santander. Hence why they haven’t merged/closed them.

    Mental that there’s a B2C bank branch without a cash machine in the UK in 2011, though – I laughed at my friend in rural Tasmania for the fact that her local CommBank branch doesn’t have one, but thought that was Tassie backwardness…

  4. NickM says:

    Is “a run on the banks” a demo sport for 2012?

  5. RAB says:

    Oh there are going to be lots of new games next year Nick. There’ll be Eurozone Pointless. Guess which Eurozone country is going to crash first and get your money out fast, then there’s Sovereign Debt Dominoes… and the Wheelbarrow race of course, to get to the shops with enough cash to actually buy something, anything, that’s left.

    B&Q are selling cheap wheelbarrows right now, but they are advertising them as Wallets.

  6. The RBS NatWest supposed merger was a complete shambles, a decade or two later, they are still run as two entirely separate banks, so you can’t pay in an RBS cheque at a NatWest branch. Where I used to live, there were separate Lloyds and TSB branches for at least ten years after the merger, wasn’t that all supposed to be about cost cutting and reducing overlaps and stuff?

    But I suppose, in terms of demerging RBS branches again again that actually comes in handy, but hey.

  7. and I think it’s “mourning” and not “morning” in that context.

  8. NickM says:

    Yeah, Mark banged to rights on my “mournings”. Mark from my ‘umble experience banks are frigging ante-deluvian. I’m with NatWest because I got ATM, phone, internet and teller balances from HSBC and all four were different in the same day without spending anything.

  9. formertory says:

    ATMs aren’t filled up by staff any more. Security companies come in and do it on contract. Elfin safety, of course. Means the middle aged woman behind the counter doesn’t get smacked over the head by some toerag.

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