6 Apr 2020

Hundreds queue for TSB Bank in New Plymouth

2:05 pm on 6 April 2020

Hundreds of frustrated customers - some of them elderly - queued around the block at the New Plymouth headquarters of the TSB Bank when it opened this morning.

The queue for TSB Bank in New Plymouth this morning.

The queue for TSB Bank in New Plymouth this morning. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

TSB branches around the country are only open for three hours on Monday mornings during the lock down.

John McNeice, 84, had been in the queue for about half an hour and was sitting on a bench and patiently waiting his turn.

"I'm on heart pills so that's why I've got to sit and wait for the bank. I'm waiting for them (another customer) to guide me in.

"I've come in to pay my Visa and I'm not online."

McNeice said he lived alone and family members had called on him on Sunday so he did not have anyone available to help with his banking today.

Bruce Willis had just joined the back of the queue.

He said forcing people gathering so closely together was creating a health risk.

"They need far more branches open because they are causing congestion and causing us to take risks. The two metre spacing is fine, but they're going to get congestion with a line this long. It's ridiculous opening only one branch (in New Plymouth)."

Willis had come to the bank to transfer money out of an account not set up for internet banking.

Anne Stewart had come down to reactivate an account for her son who just started a job at Pak n' Save.

She had not expected to wait so long.

John McNeice - on a bench waiting his turn.

John McNeice - on a bench waiting his turn. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"Not at all and everyone here didn't expect this either. Everyone's saying they wished they had opened all day or an extra day to deal with the congestion. I mean, we're not meant to be gathering as part of the rules and here we are today and this is what's happening."

Marie Zimmerman was even less impressed.

"There's quite a substantial wait for elderly pensioners and people with young children. It's absolutely shocking and mind-blowing."

TSB chief executive Donna Cooper said the bank was following government instructions to open for a limited hours one day a week.

It was the first bank in the country to open last Monday and had been caught out by just how busy it was today, she said.

"These are really extraordinary times so it is difficult to anticipate volumes, but yes it is busier today than was last Monday. But we did email our customers on Friday reminding them of our operating ours and other ways we can help them and that might have prompted the number of customers that needed our help today."

The bank was not sending customer who were over 70 years of age home.

Bruce Willis joins the back of the queue.

Bruce Willis joins the back of the queue. Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

"We are supporting customers with what they need. We are adhering to the distancing and we are communicating with customers regularly and often through this period to use other services of ours if they can. The majority of our banking services can be done digitally or over the phone.

"So, with older customers we're encouraging them to jump online and we're helping them get into online banking if that is something they are not familiar with."

Cooper said withdrawals, deposits, opening of new accounts and issuing of eftpos cards were some of the transactions where some people needed to coming into a branch and is extending its opening hours at its New Plymouth and Hawera branches today.

As a result of today's congestion opening hours were extended at the New Plymouth and Hawera branches of TSB today.

A limited number of the bank's branches will open for three hours on each Monday morning of the lockdown, but will be open on the Tuesday morning following Easter.

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