A decision by HSBC to downgrade its Stockton High Street branch to a “digital service branch” – forcing customers who require counter services to travel to Middlesbrough – has been criticised as “short-sighted” by Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham.
HSBC have announced that the Stockton High Street branch will change to a counter-less service from sometime after 6 September 2021. Self-service machines will be the primary method for customers paying in money or cheques. Some staff will be on hand to assist, but specialist service will not be available.
One of the factors leading to HSBC’s decision was counter usage between January and December 2020 – much of which was during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic – a measurement Alex has criticised as not a true indication of customer usage.
“HSBC’s decision to downgrade services at its Stockton High Street branch is incredibly disappointing, and I have a number of concerns about their plan.
“Firstly their impact assessment report uses counter usage during a pandemic as rationale for downgrading. HSBC cannot seriously believe these figures are a true measurement of customer patterns.
“Secondly, the removal of counter servicers will primarily hit older and more vulnerable customers the hardest. HSBC have said they will offer support but what this support will be is vague, nor will it truly replace the counter service many people rely on.
“Finally, HSBC’s decision is extremely short-sighted in light of the Labour-run Stockton Borough Council’s ambitious plans to make Stockton High Street an entertainment, leisure and shopping destination – a vision that has captured the national imagination, with features in the Guardian and Radio Four.
“I have called on HSBC to reconsider their decision and I hope they take a step back, look at the issues I have raised, and keep a full service at our Stockton Branch.”