"Remember you are a person of Gold Credit Card status.
"But I don't have a Gold Credit Card!
"That's only because you don't have enough money."
Hyacinth and Richard Bucket, Keeping up Appearances.
I am a serial closer of businesses. Some years ago I went into Cirencester Woolworths. It was my first visit of a lifetime and I was impressed.
The items were just what any household needed and at such incredibly low prices. Vowing to call and shop again I left clutching my purchases.
The next day the whole chain closed. Last week I decided that it would be useful to have a local bank. Until now I have banked with a London bank which has no High Street presence.
I have dealt with a 'private' banker who is available on the telephone with no recourse to annoying piped music or multi-choice options. This presents no problems, except of cost. Perhaps, I thought, it would be good to have a place I could call in, deal with matters in person, glean help if necessary.
You can see where this is going. We are told that switching any service is a simple and pain-free process. It is implied we are stupid if we do not.
As I write I am still trying to transfer money to Lloyds, a simple process, I thought, made difficult by small mistakes. One of which is an indifference on both sides. Though not on mine. This is not money, this is my future.
At an interview with a manager I was told that there is no such thing as loyalty to the customer, that any loyalty that exists is between staff. A week later, when I went to see if money had been transferred (it had not), it was the day that the announcement was made that Tetbury branch would be closing.
I cannot weep for the staff if they cannot weep for me, loyalty being a two-way street. With time I find myself becoming an old person who says, 'Things were better in the past.' I hate this. I try, like most of the people I know, to adapt to change, to embrace technology, to at least know about contemporary issues.
Yet I think of the days when you knew your Bank Manager (note the possessive) and if you had a bob or two he might even come round for a sherry, and your Doctor knew you, and your personal circumstances, and not just a few test results on a computer screen.
We have become depersonalised, dependent on machines to function. Young people say they have three thousand friends. They have never met them, just 'liked' on the internet. It is naïve to imagine that banking is a service industry.
It is a business, its concern being profit. If a branch doesn't appear viable it will be closed, if internet banking is the future for all, make customers go away.
Soon post offices will close, this and all other newspapers will go, on-line shopping will be the only way, we shall cease to need to talk to anyone. Small wonder loneliness is the greatest problem in society.