AIB has apologised to customers who had to endure long waiting times at its O’Connell Street branch over the Christmas period but insisted the delays were not linked to redundancies or the introduction of self-service machines.
Sinn Fein’s Cllr Maurice Quinlivan had described the branch as “resembling a cattle mart at peak times”.
“The recent closure of the William Street and Corbally branches of AIB and the transfer of its customers to O’Connell Street have hugely increased the volume of visitors attending the bank. But it defies logic for AIB to then simultaneously reduce the amount of public counters in O’Connell Street by 50%. It would make you wonder if somebody in AIB is having a laugh at our expense. But whatever about that, it demonstrates a clear lack of respect from AIB towards the very people who are keeping them afloat,” he said in relation to the bailout which has left the state the majority shareholder in the bank.
Cllr Quinlivan believes the queues at the main city branch have been aggravated by other branch closures, redundancies and early retirements and a desire to push more customers towards on-line banking.
“It is clear that AIB is trying to force people to use the internet and self service banking facilities. While this is fine for many people and some transactions, it is not an option for other transactions and can be unsuitable for many people especially the elderly,” he said.
In response, the bank said the O’Connell Street branch was “particularly busy over the Christmas period and we apologise to customers for any inconvenience caused”.
“However, it is not true to say that the amount of teller staff at AIB’s O’Connell Street branch has been reduced. Currently there are five teller staff available to assist customers, with additional front line staff assigned to queue management. These staff members engage with customers as they arrive to establish which service they need and where appropriate the customer is taken from the queue and provided with a one to one demonstration on how to use one of the four recently installed self service machines in the branch or suitable alternative options.
“These self service machines offer customers faster and cheaper methods of conducting their banking transactions. AIB staff endeavour at all times to expedite queues and ensure that no customer is left waiting unnecessarily,” a spokesperson said.
Last year the bank announced it was looking to cut staff by 2500 nationally through voluntary redundancy and early retirement. A breakdown of how many staff have left in Limerick was unavailable, the bank said, but stressed this was unrelated to the pressures experienced at O’Connell Street of late.