Loyal NAB Customer’s Outcry over Closure of Inglewood Branch Leaves Locals Feeling Abandoned
The National Australia Bank (NAB) has come under fire from one of its longstanding customers for its decision to close its branch in the rural community of Inglewood, Queensland. The closure, set to take effect on Thursday, 19 October 2023, has left Shelley Rielly and some local residents feeling abandoned and frustrated by the limited alternatives provided by the bank.
Ms Rielly, a loyal NAB customer for decades, expressed her disappointment in an email addressed to the bank's management, raising issues about the challenges the rural community faces with the closure of the branch.
"NAB's proposed alternatives, which include internet banking, telephone banking, and ATM usage, are impractical for those without reliable internet access, who have hearing impairments or who are unable to drive the 160 kilometres to the nearest ATM located at Millmerran," Ms Rielly said.
"Many residents in Inglewood are elderly or have limited mobility, and the closure will deprive them of essential banking services.
The lack of consideration for the community's needs and the challenges the closure will present to the elderly residents is unreasonable.
"NAB is leaving the community in a vulnerable position when it comes to managing their finances.
"I have been a loyal customer my entire life, and I'm deeply disheartened by the disregard shown by NAB," she said.
Last Friday, 4 August, NAB responded to Ms Rielly, saying the decision to close the Inglewood Agency was difficult. The bank stated that after monitoring a steep decline in customer usage over several years and seeing a significant reduction in transactions, with a drop in personal cash withdrawals and deposits, since 2020, they are changing how they do business to adapt to this changing customer behaviour.
The statement from NAB said that the majority of customers were accessing their money differently, with more than 93 per cent of customer interactions occurring through digital channels and over-the-counter transactions declining by more than 30 per cent over the past three years.
Despite NAB's suggestion that Australia Post can serve both personal and business banking, local Postmaster, Gary Strain, pointed out a significant hurdle for the older population in Inglewood.
"Many of them do not possess bank cards required for transactions. Some of our older residents still rely on chequebooks, and without a bank card, using the banking facility here at Australia Post becomes impossible," Mr Strain explained. "Unlike a bank, we lack the capability to access personal information by providing an account number.”
While this new development is expected to increase the workload at the post office, Mr Strain said they have already been accommodating NAB customers for some time.
"Another issue is that local businesses have raised concerns regarding coin floats."
Ms Rielly, who owns Greenup Meeting Place camping ground and CCs Cafe located at Coolmunda Dam, said challenges with cash availability and coin floats could affect the day-to-day operations of local businesses.
The closure's impact on the lives of rural residents should not be underestimated. We need to work collaboratively to find a suitable solution," Ms Reilly said.
"The option to bank at our local Australia Post outlet has its limitations. The post office cannot handle identification checks or large transactions and has imposed limits by the banks on cash withdrawals that are impractical and insufficient for the needs of businesses and individuals," Ms Rielly said.
Ms Rielly recently started a petition urging the decision-makers at NAB to reconsider their stance on the closure.
"I want the Goondiwindi regional community, local politicians and our Federal Member, and NAB representatives to engage in conversations to find a solution that preserves essential banking services in Inglewood. The closure's impact on the lives of rural residents should not be underestimated. We need to work collaboratively to find a suitable solution," Ms Reilly said.
To sign the digital petition - https://www.change.org/p/stop-our-local-bank-from-closure?redirect=false
Paper petitions can be found at Inglewood Australia Post, Elders Inglewood, Jeff Hannaford Chartered Accountant and Sutto's Inglewood Newsagency.