Friday, 20 July 2012

Ducking out of the Lloyds Co-op switch

If I was a Lloyds TSB customer and hearing for the first time about the Big Bank Switch to the Co-op, I'd be puzzled and annoyed by the statement Lloyds is putting out to customers:

"Once the transfer is complete, the customers and staff in the selected branches will stay with those branches."

It makes you feel like sheep being herded from one field to another. It's the order that you "will stay" which sticks in in the craw - and it's nonsense, anyway.

To be fair, plenty of Lloyds customers seem unfazed by the prospect of being moved lock, stock and barrel to the Co-op, or the TSB - as the ex Lloyds TSB branches will be known.

And I've had staff telling me they're looking forward to it. One branch worker told me "I can't wait!".

On the other hand, people tend to like the devil they know. Most of those I asked outside Lloyds TSB branches have said they don't want to change banks and they don't want to be forced to do anything.

Here's the official line for customers on how they'll be affected. If you scroll down to the bottom you can click on the list of branches being transferred.

But you'll notice that Lloyds never says explicitly that customers don't have to go to the Co-op.

Why not?

Well, the answer is that, as part of the sales process, Lloyds can't be seen to be trying to keep customers.

The whole point is that the Co-op is spending £750m in order to get the 632 branches and a large number of accounts, likely to be 4.8m, so trying to woo customers back would be against the spirit of the deal.

On the other hand, it's patently absurd to suggest that becoming a member of the Co-op is compulsory.

What's likely to happen is that once the two banks sign their Sale and Purchase Agreement, which is the next stage, Lloyds will write to customers explaining what the options are...

And telling them that they can opt out of the Big Bank Switch - by moving to online banking or changing to a different Lloyds branch or, of course, by switching to another bank of their choice.

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