back to article Royal Bank of Scotland culls 1 in 4 branches, blames the interwebz

Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland Group is shutting 259 branches and slashing 680 jobs, blaming the shift to customers banking online. The closures involve 62 RBS and 197 NatWest branches. So next time the bank has an outage, customers living in areas where branches have shut will just have to resort to bartering. An RBS …

  1. wolfetone

    So if most of their customers have shifted to online banking, how many of their customers are shifting away from the bank because of their online banking?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Who cares? Close offices, fire people, and just sell the damn thing.

      I think that's the "thinking".

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. rh587 Silver badge

      So if most of their customers have shifted to online banking, how many of their customers are shifting away from the bank because of their online banking?

      I moved away from RBS because of their offline banking (or lack of).

      Unlike every other bank in town, they were not open on a Saturday, meaning that on those occasions when I needed to see a human, I could not. Moreover, they opened at 9.30 and closed at 4.30, meaning it was not possible to slip out of work a bit early or be stood at the door at 9am to slip in quickly before going off to work.

      Literally everybody else (Natwest, Santander, Barclays, Nationwide, HSBC, Halifax) open on Saturdays.

      Bye RBS.

  2. Ochib

    Decimate is one in ten, not one in four as the word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth"

    1. kain preacher

      Decimate ver 2.5

    2. shifty_powers

      If you listen to Dan Carlin on Hardcore History, you'll find out that it comes from the Roman Army. They would execute one in ten of a given group for certain capital crimes such as desertion.

      (Apologies for use of wikipedia).

    3. Lost In Clouds of Data

      Re: Limits of pragmatism

      Not wishing to be pedantic, but...

      Decimate [verb] (used with object), decimated, decimating.

      1. to destroy a great number or proportion of:

      The population was decimated by a plague.

      2. to select by lot and kill every tenth person of.

      3. (Obsolete.) to take a tenth of or from.


      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Limits of pragmatism

        Language has changed so much that they've had to amend the definition to fit the popular misconception. That sort of thing has just decimated the dictionary.

        1. Oliver 7

          Re: Limits of pragmatism

          A mute point now?

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: Limits of pragmatism

            A mute point now?

            s/mute/moot/g *

            (Moot being the place where laws and judicial decisions were debated in Saxon society).

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Limits of pragmatism

        I know the popular (incorrect) usage of the word is recorded as such in some inferior dictionaries, but if you want to use a word to describe the greater portion of something being destroyed, there's a perfectly good word for that, it even starts with a 'd' , 'devastate'.

        I presume when people say 'decimate' they mean 'devastate' and this is how the modern misuse came about.

    4. Wensleydale Cheese

      Decimate is one in ten, not one in four as the word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth"


    5. albaleo

      "the word decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth"

      And I don't think it has ever been used in English with that meaning except by those fascinated by the arbitrary killing of soldiers. Look up "idiot" for similar cross-lingua transgressions.

    6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      decimation is derived from Latin meaning "removal of a tenth"

      As practised against legions convicted of cowardice. One man in ten of the survivors is killed.

      The Romans were not particularly interested in employee rights..

  3. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

    Amazingly my local RBS branch isn't on the list, but it might as well be. Every branch in a five mile radius is open M-F 9:15-16:45. Why do banks remain one of the businesses that don't understand that people work during the day?

    There's one seven miles away open 09:00-13:00 on a Saturday, so as I need to pay in a load of spare cash I either have to wait to I have a day off, or waste an hour of my time including travelling and processing time. Probably better to use coinstar, even if they do take 10%.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. kain preacher

      Silly rabbit only weirdos pay in cash.

      1. kain preacher

        Guess I should of used the joke icon. but in the new world order cash will be banned. You will have RFID and GPS enabled ID cards. You will be tracked you will love it .

    3. Martin Summers

      "so as I need to pay in a load of spare cash I either have to wait to I have a day off, or waste an hour of my time including travelling and processing time. Probably better to use coinstar, even if they do take 10%."

      I'm happy to help out and take it off your hands if ever you need. Just let me know!

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

        @martin How Kind. I said it was spare, not unwanted..

        This has been built up over the course of months, and finding that stuff such as emergency cash contained two old style fivers. Not everywhere does contactless, it's only city centres where they've moved to contactless becoming the expected payment method.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In my country bank workers were so privileged (pay, holidays, retirement - even sons and daughter hired when the father retired...) that they didn't see the Internet iceberg coming...

      Still they refuse to be open after 16:30 or on Saturday, even if you can arrange an appointment later if you have enough money to be an "interesting" customer.

      Last time I went to my branch I asked for a cashier's check. The cashier was upset because of the work to be done - "why don't you make a wire transfer?" - to whom I replied "if I needed a wire transfer I would have done it from my internet banking, and you would be useless". With reluctance, she made it.

      I'm sorry for people losing a job, but some deserve it, when they think they should be paid to work very little, and be peevish towards customers.

  4. Khaptain Silver badge

    Mortgage negotiation

    Will the online banking platform allow for Mortgage Negotiation whereby you can pressure the Website Admin into removing the hidden fees, transaction costs, lowering the insurance, interest rates etc ?

    1. kain preacher

      Re: Mortgage negotiation

      It will add ,more hidden fees, add fees and add tons of legal text to the point you get lost in the wording and sign over your first born ..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mortgage negotiation

      That just means banks will push harder towards internet banking.... they live of hidden fees, transactions costs, etc. etc.

      Anyway once I encountered a bank clerk who actually believed he could help customers. He didn't last long. Lately, most has been pushed to exploit customers as much as they could, and if they don't reach quarterly target, face the consequences.

      In the past years, there have been banks forcing customers to buy bank shares at vastly inflated prices it they wanted a mortgage or the like. It was made deliberately, and clerks actively encouraged to do that - or else. I don't trust any bank clerk more than a system programmed by the bank.

      1. Tom 64

        Re: Mortgage negotiation

        > "Lately, most has been pushed to exploit customers as much as they could"


        Last time I went into a high street bank was to change my registered address and change my account type. I was told I had to come back for an appointment at the bank's convenience to do the latter, during which I had to endure the attempted upsale of all kinds of rubbish I didn't need.

        Considering moving my banking offshore for the better service /joke

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mortgage negotiation

      Even better, will they actually know what they offer ?

      I called my (then) primary banker (Lloyds) to ask if they offered a particular type of mortgage. I was told I would need to make a branch appointment. So I did. My wife trooped up to Canary Wharf to meet me there.

      Met as appointed. Pleasantries were passed. We explained what we were looking for in a mortgage product.

      "Sorry, we don't do that type of mortgage"

      Why the <expletive> weren't they able to do that on the phone. Wasted their time & money, let alone mine.

      Oddly enough, I no longer bank with them.

  5. Korev Silver badge

    last bank visit

    My initial reaction (other than feeling sorry for those losing their jobs) was to think that this is terrible as you'll have to travel longer to go to the bank. I then tried to think when the last time that I went to the bank was; it was when I opened the account in 2012. I guess if most people are like me then more branch closures will happen in the future.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: last bank visit

      This is exactly it. With ATMs and online banking, more or less the only thing you need to go to a branch for is to pay in cheques (they do still exist) and do more one-off things like mortgage and loan applications. That's not enough business to sustain a national branch network.

      1. Stuart 22

        Re: last bank visit

        "With ATMs and online banking, more or less the only thing you need to go to a branch for is to pay in cheques (they do still exist) and do more one-off things like mortgage and loan applications."

        I'm finding their most essential use is when some goes wrong/non-standard and it isn't on the call centre script.

        Most cashiers still retain a knowledge of how things really work and how to work the system when they don't. Face to face eyeball contact means you get attention and even compassion sometimes. Plus the truth (because it isn't being recorded for training purposes)

      2. Xiox

        Re: last bank visit

        We won't even need to go in for cheques soon. They're bringing in a service to pay in cheques by photo in the next year.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: last bank visit

        And of course paying in cheques is the next thing going virtual.

        Users of Barclays' App can now bank cheques from their living rooms (now more or less regardless of Drawee Bank). Lloyds are in testing too.

        Undoubtedly this is a balancing act of pushing services into a project backlog for web and app services and reflecting the closure of branches with the growing scope of the online offerings.

        I predict combined UK Bank branches of around 1000-1250 by 2020.

        Fail to do that and UK Banks are the next Blockbuster or Comet.

        Anon, well because you know...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: last bank visit

      I've been banking online with RBS since 2001 and have only visited banks to pay in high value cheques, with most other cheques being sent in by post. Not only can't I recall when I last visited a branch I don't even know where my nearest to home is, so if they close it I'm unlikely to notice.

    3. TVU

      Re: last bank visit

      My money is on these cuts being down to 40% interwebz and 60% standard ruthless banker capitalism. An impartial analysis will probably show that many of these branches would have still had a viable future.

    4. Trollslayer Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: last bank visit

      Similar experience for me, last visit was related to money transfers when buying a house.

  6. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Works both ways

    My credit union closed both my local branches, so I closed my account.

  7. Cthonus

    enter title here

    Not bothered for myself but left cold wondering what my 80+ mother is supposed to do.

    Partially sighted, partially deaf. Can't use phone or internet banking (no computer and gets confused enough with the telly controls). Can't walk far - the next major town is 9 miles away on a regular bus route but she's a mile away from that bus stop.

    Guess the only winners are the last bank in town?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: enter title here

      No, the winners are the fin techs, who target and entice the profitable customers away.

      Sadly, the "last bank in town" ends up servicing:

      - The elderly

      - The infirm/disabled

      - Benefits recipients

      These segments do not make for a profitable business model, and yes, that's the case even with lots of wealthy elderly customers. The size of any local market in just those segments can't generally sustain a full Bank Branch model.

      That said, maybe we need as a society to look at how we handle this. The market doesn't work for these customer segments, but maybe a Banking levy applied across the industry to be injected into improving post office counters as proper delivery end points based on demand rather than profitability (rather than, as now, being fig leaves used to allow branches to close) is in order?

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: Last Bank In Town

        I noticed that NatWest and the old Midland solve that tricky problem of remaining to be the last bank in town by both arranging to shut down on the same day.

  8. albaleo

    Think local

    Instead of firing staff, they might think of piping in fibre, and giving the staff a headset so they could do the same job as those in the call centre 1000 miles away and still be around to help everyone's gran, and 'other stuff'. Why drive to a far-away call centre for work when you could pop down the local branch, which probably has a pub next door.

    1. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Re: Think local

      As others have said, with ATMs, internet, telephone and postal banking, there really isn’t much (some, but not much) purpose in bank branches any more.

      Bulk cash or coin deposits for businesses, customers with special needs, and that’s about it. But we already have a nationwide branch network which is similarly suffering as internet communications also replace much of its core business: the Post Office.

      Post Offices should become multipurpose facilities: they already provide simple withdrawal and deposit services for many banks, they should do this for all banks. They could go further and have a couple of videoconference rooms to connect special needs customers to a remote member of bank staff in each bank’s back office as needed, with a specially trained member of Post Office staff in the room to provide reassurance and help for those who would find communicating without a real person physically present locally too difficult or confusing (I’m assuming that the local employee wouldn’t have the specialist knowledge to be able to answer all questions for all banks, so the remote employee of the actual bank would do the “knowledge” element of the work).

      With the money saved, the banks would be able to offer us better savings rates and cheaper loan rates (rather than the directors just pocketing the savings, I hope).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swings and Roundabouts

    I bank with NatWest and Santander.

    The Mobile App for NatWest is light years ahead of Santander.

    I hardly need to use the online (HTTPS) system these days.

    The Santander App is slagged off even by people who work there for being crap.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still scratching my head about firing just over two employees per branch closed. Either they each lack a usable number of employees per branch or more than a few employees are being transferred to other branches. Disturbing either way.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Still scratching my head about firing just over two employees per branch closed.

      The fact is most of these closures will be running on less than 2.5 Whole Time Equivalent staff already.

      Picking a random closure - Barclays Alston (chosen as they provide volumes in their closure reports, RBS aren't as granular)

      closed 2015 - ahead of closure, weekly counter transactions: just 115.

      That's fewer than 25 a day or 3 an hour. There's no way there was any more than 2 staff on site to service those volumes.

      So actually the redundancy numbers probably do work. Sad but true and a fact of modern llife.

      Incidentally if you doubt my "random closure" assertion you can test this yourself as these closure reports are public domain for all Banks and are on their corporate websites.

      Google, as ever, is your friend...

  11. a_yank_lurker Silver badge


    Over here, most banks are trying to keep branches open, if lightly staffed. The thinking is the convenience of a branch for customers when they need to walk into a bank is important. It is easier to keep a customer than to get a new one.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The banks have been running down their branches for a long time now - our local Barclays branch has reduced the number of cashier booths from ~10 (with up to 6 open at any one time, especially lunchtime) to 1. Instead there are meeters & greeters brandishing tablets and keen to direct you to machines or a queue of people waiting to see someone sitting at a desk, so they're not actually saving much in terms of head count. It is hardly surprising that customers take the hint.

    Not unlike the railways where if they want to close a station the first thing they do is sell off the car park for development.

  13. Giles C Bronze badge

    Odd closures

    Just looked at the branches near me that are closing, loads of the small towns but for some reason the 2 branches in Peterborough (1.5 miles apart) are both staying open. Whereas Stamford is closing... must be all the takeaways in Millfield keeping it going....

  14. Martin Summers

    From personal experience, they won't be missed, one of the least helpful and incompetent banks I've ever had the misfortune of using. Other better banks are available.

  15. The Nazz Silver badge

    I can't be the only one here ...

    Who has heard of, and uses, building societies?

    Can you believe it? They actually take receipt of cash and cheques, and in the correct circumstances dispense cash and/or cheques. It's rumoured that you can also have salaries paid in too.

    Granted, there are less of them than there used to be and nowadays simply opening a basic cash deposit account takes such a frigging effort it's hardly worthwhile.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can't be the only one here ...

      There are sadly very few building societies which provide current accounts (although the main one that does is pretty good); almost all of the others that did offer current accounts got greedy and demutualised into banks, and then were either assimilated or spectacularly derezzed during the financial crash, unfortunately.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There's likely to only be two permanent members of staff, backed up by relief staff on zero hours contracts per small branch. The latter, like sub contractors, don't get mentioned in any job loss figures.

    The winner being the last bank in town? What about the last one on the island, yes the one that's going to be closed and replaced with a visiting van. What happens when the ferry is canceled or the sat link goes down?

    Posting as AC as I might be one of those affected.

  17. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    Is RBS run by Montgomery Burns?

    -Lay off 680 workers right before Christmas--check!

    -Bank with recent history of crappy online banking service that locks out customers getting their money pushes customers towards same crap online banking offering--check!

    Where's the announcement that due to the 680 layoffs, the remaining employees will have to work Christmas Day? C'mon RBS, go for the hat trick!

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge

      Re: Is RBS run by Montgomery Burns?

      So for Scottish independence they will need a different bank

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Is RBS run by Montgomery Burns?

      Due to workers rights and tax years, Christmas is basically the only time to legally do layoffs. Not terribly well thought out, was it?

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Michty me!

    They have the Internet in Scotland!?

    1. Dr. G. Freeman

      Re: Michty me!


      Centre of Aberdeen, and it feels like dial-up.

    2. LochNessMonster

      Re: Michty me!

      Aye, we've got running water now, plus electricity, tarmac roads and even those new-fangled aireyplane things. Plus 75Mbps downstream, 17Mbps up via FTTC and a 4G connection with EE that's even faster. Yeah, life sucks up here.

  19. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am still dealing with the fall out from RBS customer services because I changed my mailing address to my parents house in Australia when I moved out of my old house and was without a permanent UK address for a few months.

    They keep sending me 5 pages worth of tax forms to fill in with asking for details of where I live for tax purposes. I have been into my local branch with my passport to show them i am in the UK and they are writing to me at my UK address yet the letters keep coming saying i am living in Australia.

  20. Lars Silver badge

    Happens everywhere

    All around Europe for the same reason, a lot of ATMs are pulled also. Some of the bigger retailers will give you cash these days instead, for no extra charge. (you will receive a smile when you ask for a box of matches and say 60e).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Banks rely on trust.

    When the banks IT security is breached and the losses are so great they can't afford to pay for losses out of the slush fund.

    Photograph cheques? Paper records still beat all forms of digital record for permanency, especially when you have your own copy. When the banks lose your data who are you going to call?

    In a court case evidence is everything, so where's the trust?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    NatWest recently changed their login method, by asking for a pre-chosen PIN number rather than your debit card pin.

    They gave me no prior notice of this change and so I tried to log in as I've done many thousands of times before, using my card pin number and it wouldn't let me and I got locked out.

    Eventually in despair, (as I had bills to pay), I phoned them - as their webchat function couldn't help because I didn't have a PIN number !!

    And because they had changed the back-office systems too, so I couldn't get past their "security checks" because I didn't have this PIN number.

    It took me 5 days in the end to get this sorted out, but only by getting through to a manager/supervisor, who didn't have to go through a "script" of set "questions and answers" in order to satisfy their security system - they even asked me which month I opened the account - given it was 40 years ago, when I was going to uni, it's a bit difficult to remember EXACTLY the month (so I gave 2 answers - August and September - as that was when I got my grant cheque and had to pay it in !!).

    Needless to say, I've been looking around at other banks now...I've got 2 personal accounts with them, so it'll be goodbye to CrapWest pretty soon.

  23. unwarranted triumphalism

    Tood bad real life isn't like your imagination

    Looks like no one here has ever had to run a business. Hard choices have to be made.

    1. Robert D Bank

      Re: Tood bad real life isn't like your imagination

      those making these decisions, along with moving thousands of other UK jobs to India, will be very richly rewarded, so yep, really difficult

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: Tood bad real life isn't like your imagination


      Looks like no one here has ever had to run a business. Hard choices have to be made.

      Yeah whether to shut the banches, outsource all the IT to india and get a fucking obscene bonus, or carry on as they are and only get an obscene bonus

      Thats what it really comes down to

      Oh and in the first case , hope the bank doesn't go TITSUP before you've left with a fat golden handshake and arranged for all the money to be paid into another bank...

  24. Charles Smith

    Meanwhile here in the Sticks

    In the countryside it's rapidly becoming the situation that if you want to go to a bank branch office you have to go to the County Town. Seems like Free Banking = No Banking.

  25. The C Man

    My local branch of NatWest (extremely busy at the time) was closed forcing me to go on line to do most of my banking. Now the nearest branch has modernised to having only two manned cashiers positions (down from eight) and one help desk and waiting time for either can be close to an hour at certain times. Phone calls are met with an automated system that takes you to a recording advising that lines are extremely busy due to an unprecedented demand but to try the on-line service. It isn't only RBS that is doing this. Every major bank is going the same way making them an easy target for start ups such as Metro.

    There has to be a point when management realises that they are forcing themselves to close down branches which, in turn, takes away the high street presence which brought in the customers they need to survive.

  26. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Home sweet motorway services

    I've had a couple of rather bad incidents when relying on a debit card that I no longer use one for day to day purchases. I was on a business trip and one morning on my way to the conference I stopped for a coffee and my card was denied. I went back to the hotel and started by checking my account online, only an obscure notice that meant nothing to me and after a considerable wait on hold I was told that somebody in South Africa tried to buy an airplane ticket with my card number and it was flagged as fraudulent. The latter part worked ok but when I asked to have a replacement card sent to my hotel I was told that a new card will arrive at my home in up to 14 business day's time and there was no way they could expedite a card and especially not to any other address. I had to borrow some money from coworkers to settle my hotel bill, eat and pay for petrol on the trip home. If I'd have been on the motorway stopping off to fill an empty tank, I'd be stuck until I could find a way to get some money. Flog off the laptop?

    Cash is instantly negotiable even when the power is out or the internet connection isn't working. More importantly, it works when the bank is under a massive DDOS attack or its servers have crashed yet again.

    Somehow we have all been sold that putting money in the bank is much more safe. We then walk around with a bit of plastic that represents all of our money and not just the portion we think we may need for the day. Given the lack of interest paid on anything less than £1,000,000 and 6 months of deposit, the only thing we are doing is registering with HM's government (and the US's too most likely) the amount of money we posses. Granted, I'd take a hit if my house were to burn down, but my coins and stock of sliver and gold would be recoverable with a little digging in the right place. In the mean time they are right were I can get at them (with some effort in a few cases) and the "bank" is open 24/7/365.

    I do have a bank account that I keep around for convenience in paying utility bills and the like, but I only put in enough to cover the payments plus a modest sum just in case. I'll stay in the analog world, thanks.

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