ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — “We are temporarily closed;” these are signs pasted on the banks of the Saint-Louis area. This forces people to forgo in-person banking and do business through ATMs.
Some St. Louis customers said it concerned them. They have to travel further, or some may have no commute at all, others said they have to pay fees to do simple tasks like cashing a paycheck.
“I tried it this weekend, and it came back and said no place in North County was able to provide me with the necessary service I wanted,” Curtis Cook said.
Cook has been doing business with Bank of America for years. He is from North County and said when the pandemic hit he started noticing some changes.
“Some branches weren’t open. Some locations, they gave us the option to email them to access PO boxes, but otherwise the physical branch isn’t open,” Cook said.
It’s a problem that happens everywhere. We have checked throughout the metro area and several Bank of America branches are closed. The only option is an ATM or to drive several miles.
“If I physically need cash, if I need to have something notarized, if I need something that needs to be treated like a savings bond or two that I need to cash , I have to do it with a physical person. So in those types of situations, it’s hard to go there,” Cook explained.
Last month, Bloomberg reported 166 Bank of America branch closures. They are not the only ones. JPMorgan Chase closed 129 branches. Wells Fargo has reduced in-person services by 267 locations. Their reasoning is cost-cutting measures and COVID-19. However, it seems that a large part of the public was unaware of the changes taking place.
“I would like the banks to get to the point where they can open up. If nothing else, just an office that provides basic services. The locations they have opened, rotate the staff so you can n ‘use only once a month to get things done,’ Cook recommended.
Diane Wagner, spokeswoman for Bank of America, told News 4 that many of their closures are due to COVID.
“Our temporary financial center closures have occurred in areas where we are seeing fewer visits, or our staff is not sufficient to keep a center open. When a center closes, we work to reopen it as soon as possible Customers can use on-site ATMs, our mobile banking app and online banking for many of their banking needs, they can also chat with a specialist via video conference at one of our designated advanced centers or make an appointment at an open financial institution.”
Some customers have said they need better communication because much of this information is new to them.
“Even with closed locations, if they can communicate better on their webpage because no one wants to call customer service, and since you want to do everything over the internet, some of that information just wasn’t as valuable as they should’ve been,” Cook said.
We asked Bank of America how many branches they have closed permanently or temporarily in our area. We also asked how understaffed they were in our area and across the country. Wagner did not respond to any questions about the closure or the number of employees.