Frustration as bank closes branch

HANNAH MCLEOD
Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013
Southland Times photo
JOHN HAWKINS/Fairfax NZ

Doug Shaw says it is terrible that Westpac in Waikiwi is closing and say he may change banks.

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Westpac has announced the closure of its branch in the north Invercargill suburb of Waikiwi, and customers say they are not being valued.

Customer Jim Watson, who lives at Lorneville, said he was frustrated the branch was closing because he would now have to head into the the city's Kelvin St or Windsor branch to do his banking.

"Are they really respecting the customer? Maybe personalised community banking is a thing of the past, but the customer is not being valued here," he said.

Mr Watson said he was not alone in his frustration at the closure. He had been contacted by fellow customers who were equally disappointed, including people from Makarewa.

"It's a question of Westpac's social responsibility," he said.

A Riverton woman said the closure would cause her a lot of inconvenience.

"When I come to town, it's my first port of call. I can go there, do my banking, head to the supermarket across the road, and head home again.

"I'm almost tempted to take my money out of Westpac," she said.

The woman also sympathised with the older generation who lived in the area.

"I feel really sorry for the likes of those who live at Peacehaven, who can't get very far. They can't do internet banking, and now they will have to go a long way to get their finances sorted," she said.

Invercargill man Doug Shaw said he used the Waikiwi branch because it was so convenient, but with closure imminent, he was considering switching banks.

"It's really terrible, I've used this bank for 10 to 15 years. I've tried going to the inner-city branch, but the service was terrible. I'll probably go to Kiwibank," he said.

A Westpac spokesman said the Waikiwi branch would close on January 31.

"There has been a steady decline in the number of customers using Waikiwi with transactions down 28 per cent over the last three years," he said.

"Most of our customers choose to bank at either Windsor or Invercargill and we are concentrating resources where customers are going."

There would be no job losses as staff from Westpac Waikiwi would be transferred to other branches in the city.

The spokesman did not respond to questions about how many customers and staff would be affected by the closure.

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