back to article Barclays Bank counter staff to become iPad-toting 'community bankers'

Barclays Bank is following the lead of London Underground and replacing counter staff with machines and people loitering around to show customers how to use them. The move will affect all 6,500 cashiers, who will be renamed “community bankers” and will be armed with iPads. Barclays already has 37 counterless branches, but the …

  1. Vince

    "Barclays Bank is following the lead of London Underground and replacing counter staff with machines and people loitering around to show customers how to use them."

    They've been doing that in the Exeter branch for ages and it's seriously annoying because as soon as you walk in there they pounce on you, so every time you have to explain you're clueful enough to use the machines on your own, and then the second they hear a noise from the machine they're over - assuming you're unable to cope rather than simply still feeding the paying in machine a few notes at a time.

    And just **** off with iPads everywhere. God the totally un-necessary and utterly pointless use of them is really grinding my gears. Go into certain stores and they now have them in horrid mounts in an effort to find any excuse for them to be used - as if having them somehow makes it better. So instead of the nice big easy touchscreens we used to have, we now have overpriced small screen ipads in ridiculous anti-theft cases. Yes, much better and a real improvement in usability. Said nobody, ever.

  2. AndrueC Silver badge

    They've been doing that in the Exeter branch for ages and it's seriously annoying

    That brings back memories from a long time ago. Is it still a large, round underground chamber? Always made me think of a dungeon when I was a sprog :)

  3. goldcd

    My favourite iPad user is the TSA

    To randomly select people for the fast-track lane, they have an agent with an ipad on a stand.

    Agent presses screen, ipad points arrow left or right, agent points next passenger left or right.

    Agent presses screen, ipad points arrow... was really quite hypnotic and I will never complain about my job again.

  4. phil dude

    Re: My favourite iPad user is the TSA

    yes, and to stop them browsing pr0n....


  5. Vince

    "That brings back memories from a long time ago. Is it still a large, round underground chamber? Always made me think of a dungeon when I was a sprog :)"

    Sorry no - they've redeveloped the whole area - in fact they're re-re-developing the branch again now - which is why for a couple of weeks I haven't been able to pay money in etc.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh good

    Replace the staff who might actually give you some sort of "human" feeling with machine,

    like Tesco have done to force more people online, has worked with me, except I went Aldi because they still employ worker level humans like myself.

    We all know those pesky lowest paid members of bank staff are holding back the turnover or managment bonuses as it is otherwise known.

  7. Warm Braw Silver badge

    Re: Oh good

    You mean the smarmy nylon-encased drones that are trained to "engage" with you in the hope of upselling you some dodgy product or service for which they'll have to compensate you in a few years time? I'd much rather deal with a machine.

    Forget the "digital eagles" their customers have been "spread eagles" for years...

  8. Stacy

    Re: Oh good

    I don't know if Aldi is better in the UK, but a machine that is switched off would give better service than the people working there where I live...

    HSBC has had machine only branches for a long time (20 years or more) and they work really well. What works less well is the waiting time when you do actually need to speak to someone in person - you make an appointment and then wait an hour or more after that appointment to be told that they can't help you :)

  9. David 138

    Re: Oh good

    The people who rush food at you while you struggle to throw it into the nearest trolley fast enough that it doesn't fall on the floor?

    Tesco Bringing back the trolley scanners is alot better. However it is a shame the self checkouts don't have Con-tactless.

    Bank on the other hand need to have people because you only go there because the cash point and on-line banking cant do it. Such as change your address or contact information and pay ancient forms of money in.

  10. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Plus ca change ...

    Back in the 90sm Barclays went all USian, with open plan banks, with one lone cashier behind a counter, and everyone else seated at desks. Looked very like US banks you see (or used to see) on TV. Of course they couldn't take money at the desk, nor dispense it. But as long as you wanted a new chequebook, or a chat about a loan, brilliant.

    Little tip from the real world, by the way. If you need people to show you how to use the machines, then it's pretty much a conclusion that you've failed in making anything easier or better. Certainly as a customer.

  11. GBE

    Re: Plus ca change ...

    "Of course they couldn't take money at the desk, nor dispense it. But as long as you wanted a new chequebook, or a chat about a loan, brilliant."

    Perhaps I'm the odd one out, but I never go into a bank unless I need to talk to somebody at a desk.

    I get my cash from ATMs, and deposit checks with my phone.

    I rarely deposit cash, but I can do that at the ATM 24/7 too.

    About 5 years ago when I bought my house I needed a cashiers check for the closing. That's the last time I used a cashier behind a counter -- and I'm pretty sure somebody sitting at a desk could have done that as well since all they did was type on a computer terminal and then walk over and pick up the check off the printer.

  12. John Lilburne Silver badge

    They were doing that late February.

    I said I preferred NOT to use the machines because not using them would annoy their management.

  13. VinceH Silver badge

    Re: They were doing that late February.

    "I said I preferred NOT to use the machines because not using them would annoy their management."

    Last time I went into a bank to pay some cheques in, which happens very rarely, I was pounced on by some staff member to suggest I could use the machine to pay them in.

    I said I'd prefer to get the paying in book stamped as evidence that the cheques were paid in (especially since they weren't mine). He pointed out that the machine would print a receipt.


  14. bigtimehustler

    Re: They were doing that late February.

    Why explain that much, just say you prefer to deal with a human.

  15. billat29

    Great technology

    .. and on the rare occasions when I pay in a cheque I get the wandering member of staff telling me - I mean inviting me - to use the machine.

    Not when I have to put my card in it AND fill in a form, I say.

    "Old git can't handle the technology" they think.

    "Been doing this since before your Dad 's first attempt to get into your Mum's knickers" I think.

  16. GreggS

    Are you sure

    they said "Bankers"?

  17. VinceH Silver badge

    Re: Are you sure

    Yes, but they said it with their forefingers hooked into the sides of their mouths.

  18. Tanuki
    Thumb Down

    They moved to this in the Swindon branch a few months back. Allegedly.

    It must be about a year since I went into a physical bank-branch of any flavour. IMHO the whole idea of high-street-type bank branches is today dead on its feet - they're never open when you need them for a start. Let them - along with post-offices - go the same way as yellow-pages, fax-machines and red telephone-kiosks: quaint reminders of slower, kinder, gentler times but totally irrelevant to the current millennium.

  19. Chloe Cresswell

    Grimsby Branch

    Every time I go into most barcleys now, I get asked "paying in? You can use the machine!" I hold up my business account paying in book "Oh no, you can't, you need to go to the counter".

    Guess it'll just mean I get longer queues.

  20. Jim 59

    Radical ideas

    The quickest way for banks to offer better service would be to open when the customers are able to visit, ie. in the evening and Saturdays. There's an idea, eh?

  21. A Twig

    Re: Radical ideas

    Barclays now open on Saturdays and Bank Holidays - just saying as a now much happier customer who got sick of RBS' 9:30 - 4:30 routine

  22. kmac499

    And How do I ...

    Occasionally I bank money for a charity I volunteer with..

    To date the largest single load was about £1100 in coins. According to the bathroom scales it was 36kg and although we did pre-count and bag it all up. I still needed a rolly shopping bag to cart it to the branch.

    So Barclays how does a peripatetic 'colleague' and IPad sort that one out...??

  23. returnmyjedi

    Re: And How do I ...

    My local Natwest has one of those machines like in supermarkets where you can lob your coinage into it and it's paid straight into your account. There's usually a queue of drunken vagrants waiting to use it, and it steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that Euro 96 commemorative coins are legal tender but other than that it works rather well. I left HSBC as my branch barred access to its counter staff besides its Premier and business customers, messing us mere mortals had to use ageing Fujitsu Siemens PCs to do our banking, through the same internet portal available anywhere else.

  24. kmac499

    Re: And How do I ...

    The coin 'skip' is a possibility but 36kg. Plus we still need to count it first for our own declaration.

    Maybe I could modify a bathroom plunger to look like a slot machine arm, hog the machine for a while then run around the branch shouting "WOO HOO Jackpot Winner"

  25. WraithCadmus

    Re: And How do I ...

    If it's anything like the HSBC one then you do get an itemised receipt showing how many of each coin got collected.

    The capacity is an issue though, I've had one choke on ~£15 in 1p/2p/5p coins.

  26. Zot

    The branch in Cheltenham looks like a set from the 60s StarTrek.

    This is the final nail in my account.

    I'm really looking forward to going in and closing my account with a reverberating, "in cash please!"

    Good times.

  27. JimmyPage Silver badge

    If it wasn't for ****ing cheques

    I'd never need to go near a branch.

    Last offender ? HMR ***inng C, who decided that my tax refund had to be a cheque. No asking how I'd like it. No choice of supplying a bank account and sort code.

    Since MrsPage and I rarely if ever visit high streets (last time was 4 months ago), it's a matter of supreme inconvenience to have to deal with paying cheques in.

  28. Jim 59

    Re: If it wasn't for ****ing cheques

    @JimmyPage I think you can specify "cheque" or "electronic" on the tax return. Select cheque rather than giving HMRC your account number. Need to know basis and all that...

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: If it wasn't for ****ing cheques

    yeah you can

  30. phil dude
    Black Helicopters

    Re: If it wasn't for ****ing cheques

    here in the USA it has been like that for a while. Of course, being suitably paranoid I have my credit union (!Bank) make some extra accounts specifically for that purpose.


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is a robbery!

    Hands up and give me the iPads and nobody gets hurt!

  32. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    Digital eagles may soar, but digital weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

    To mis-quote Scott Adams Dogbert. He didn't say anything about digital vultures I'm afraid...

  33. toffer99

    And their main aim will STILL be to sell you some crummy financial product for which they'll have to compensate you later for mis-selling. Cynical, me? Yeah, they had me twice. Give me a sleazy used car salesman every time.

  34. sandman

    Super queues

    Try going into a robotised branch with your 95 year old in a wheelchair. They're perfectly compos mentis but need to deal with one of the few staff. See the 20 minute lunchtime queue for services the machines don't provide. Enjoy the sight of nurses, builders and other people you actually want on the job getting agitated. Note that there are no signs telling you what the machines can do, so the poor sod with the pad keeps a job.

    When you finally get to the ONE window, the staff are on high stools so can't even see someone below them in a wheelchair and have to heave their bulk off it and stand at the end of the counter to deal with them. Then get told they've made allowances for old/disabled customers because one of the machines is lower, just like a kiddy's urinal. I'm thinking about contacting one of the disability pressure groups to have a look at this.

  35. riparian zone

    Re: Super queues

    I was wondering this myself..will these 'eagles' be versed in accessibility use? will they turn on zooming and/or voice over, and then understand that when that's done it is a different beast altogether to use? then there are those with cerebal palsy having problems using the bleeding things...Its the standard mainstream 'clicky clicky pinch here' attitude. Some elders will refuse to use iPads too, refusing to have no human contact - they have this outdated notion that jobs get lost through too much computering.

  36. Halfmad

    We're having iPads forced on us at work too

    How long until the first one is dropped?

    How long until someone attempts a honeypot?

  37. ChudNET83

    Horror Stories with these machines!!

    I moved from HSBC to Barclays because I liked the fact that on a Saturday I could walk into a branch and talk to a human who would handle my cash and sort everything out and answer any queries I had... Not like HSBC when I tried to deposit some money only to find the machine broken and 4 of the smartly dressed clipboard holders trying to fix it.... Cant you Open a Counter I suggested... "NO" they replied, but you have a queue of 10 or so people waiting to use this machine, "it will be fixed in 10 mins" they responded... 45 mins of my precious Saturday passed and the clipboard holders faced defeat in the face... but rather than open a counter they told us to use the Business Machine to deposit our wares... why they hadn't suggested that earlier I do not know!?!

    When I actually TRIED to close my account, again on a Saturday they said I owed 24p in my account - I asked if I could pay it in, they said NO as no desks were open on a Saturday... I asked if their machines could take coins and they said NO, so luckily I had already opened my Barclays account already so I walked across the road... walked up to the counter and asked a staff member to transfer 24p into my HSBC account, which they did immediately... an hour or so later when it had cleared I walked back across and closed the account....

    Banks just need to walk into a Tesco/Morrisons/Asda etc. and watch the number of people arguing with the self service checkouts to know that these types of machines are a bad idea...

  38. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Re: Horror Stories with these machines!!

    When I bought my house, I assembled my funds in an "Instant Access" savings account at HSBC. At some point, I needed to transfer £25k to my solicitor:

    Log on online, go through security, add solicitor's client account as payee, but I can't pay them more than £500.


    Website says to try phone banking.

    Ring up phone banking, go through security twice (automated, and then in person), re-supply solicitors account details, finally "Steve" tells me I can't do it over the phone, I have to go in to branch.


    Walk to nearest branch, queue up for counter.

    Get to front of queue - "This is business customers. You want the counter around the corner that isn't signed at all"


    Queue up again. Get to the front of the queue - "You can't do withdrawals here, you need to make an appointment to talk to an advisor"


    Go to the front of bank, there is a man with a clipboard. He can give me an appointment in 1 hours time to do a withdrawal, it will cost me £40.


    At this point I enter meltdown and had a fit of pique and threatened to close my "instant access" savings account on the spot, walk across the road with £25k in cash and deposit it with my solicitors bank directly. This got action, they do not like having to physically give you your money..

    I would move my current account, but they are all similarly cretinous these days.

  39. AOD

    Re: Horror Stories with these machines!!

    I can hear the machines now:

    "Unexpected customer in counter area"...

  40. Zot

    Re: Horror Stories with these machines!!

    Ha, yeah. I'm betting they didn't even have £25k in the bank. I'm not kidding.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "really helping customers"

    says the banker. Be afraid, be very afraid :(

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have to pay our fines somehow....

    Yes, shitcan the customer facing staff as they're easy pickings... What did you expect consumers? I give the finger to all those still banking with Barclays :-


    -----"Barclays was so bent on lifting its private trading venue to the upper ranks of Wall Street dark pools that it lied to customers and masked the role of high-frequency traders, according to New York’s attorney general"

    -----"They also said the bank had misled ordinary investors by claiming it would use a stock exchange or dark pool that "would best execute their trades" at any given time, but in fact the trades were "nearly always" routed to Barclays' own dark pool so the bank could make more money."

    -----"Barclays Manipulated Gold as Soon as It Stopped Manipulating Libor"

    -----For those into "pay porn"


  43. A Twig

    Re: We have to pay our fines somehow....

    Investment banking != retail banking... yawn...

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Investment banking != retail banking... yawn..."


  45. A Twig

    Re: "Investment banking != retail banking... yawn..."

    Nice try - unfortunately using a retail bank division to cover losses of an investment banking division is illegal under the Banking Reform Act...

    What is actually happening is that with the ring-fencing of retail operations, retail banks now have to be more profitable on their own - a quick way to do that is cost reduction, which is much more likely to be the reason for this shift to automation, redundancies & more branch closures...

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Using retail bank to cover losses of IB is illegal under the Banking Reform Act"

    Horseshit Part II...

    First off, that law only applies to the UK, not other territories. Also, it hasn't been tested or enforced as its 'such a new idea' if you can believe that... We've had banking firewalls in the states for decades, and they didn't achieve a damn thing that they were meant to. The reason I say its yet to be tested, is that no too-big-to-fail IB event has occurred yet. So at best this law is an unknown! At worst, it may be unenforceable...

    Overall, you're making some serious assumptions... The existence of any law is no guarantee that it'll ever be enforced... Where were you when the mortgage meltdown happened? Did anyone go to jail? No, and its only now that they're paying their fines, all off the backs of shareholders...

    Additionally, announced today Barclays face a US Senate Hearing over their latest shannigans involving trades with special partners i.e. Hedge Funds. Its yet more evidence that banksters are playing us every which way they can, its just business as usual for them...

    So I'm in no doubt they'll find a perfectly 'legal' way to get around this ruling. The most obvious is offshoring cash from retail by doing a swap with a Hedge Fund meant to be a 'Hedge' (ala the London Whale con). After, they repatriate it back to the IB using some convoluted off-balance sheet vehicle. They may even try to import their IB losses from overseas by cross-trading them with another 3rd party, so that losses appear back on the balance sheet of the retail side.

    Don't forget the big-four accounting firms are complicit in all these games, and no one goes to jail ever! If you can't see this, then you simply aren't using your imagination. (I'm ex BofA IB Rates and Structured Products, so I know what's possible)


  47. Zot

    I suppose it's better than...

    The Windows XP terminals they're currently using. :) But then again, they are walking around amongst the plebs waving your account about.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018