REALLY, it’s hard to believe anything the banks say, isn’t it?
Despite their prominent slogan that ‘we’re about people’, ‘we’re about community’ and ‘we’re about our customers’, the National Australia Bank has let slip that they are shutting the doors on their bank branch in Korumburra on Friday, February 10 next year.
Described as “distressing news” by the Korumburra Business Association, the decision will leave dozens and dozens of local business operators in the lurch.
But, officially at least, the bank hasn’t done their customers the courtesy of telling them anything about it.
There hasn’t been a letter, an email, nothing.
The first thing Middle Hotel publican Troy Patterson knew about it was a rumour from bank staff.
Hardly surprising since he’s next door to the bank in Commercial Street, is a customer, and is in and out of the bank several times a day.
His customers are the best clients of the NAB’s ATM.
“It’s an absolute disgrace,” said Troy, who has had the decision confirmed by the business bank in Wonthaggi.
“They’ve got some of the main businesses in the district banking there. Surely that’s got to be worth something.
“Korumburra is a growing town but the closure of a bank branch would be damaging,” he said.
The Korumburra Business Association has come in quickly behind the local businesses that would be affected by the closure and according to KBA President Noelene Cosson, they’re not going to go down without a fight.
“Shirley (Arestia) got word of this on Friday and quickly circulated the members with the main object of informing them but we’d also like to gauge the impact, which is why we’re asking who banks with NAB.”
Already 30 businesses have confirmed they bank with the NAB.
“It’s extremely disappointing and we will be fighting for our members on this one,” Mrs Cosson said.
“We’re known about banks closing branches for years but when it happens to your town, it’s quite a shock.
“And it’s not as if Korumburra is a small town. We’re got over 140 businesses,” she said.
“It’s not just a matter of going to the next bank and opening up an account. People have loans in place and all the rest.
“You can’t just pop over to Leongatha and get your change and deposit your cheques. With the farming community, people still use a lot of cheques.
“I don’t think the bank’s decision makers know the situation here.”
And what about the NAB’s main slogan: “While money’s important, it’s not what matters most.”
“It’s distressing and it’s disappointing and we’re not going to go down without a fight.
“We’re just getting our facts together but we’ll be having a meeting about it this week. Just watch our Facebook page for details.”
Secretary of the KBA, Shirley Arestia, said businesses contacted had replied with shock and surprise.
“We’re looking at another case where a town fought the closure of a bank branch and won to see if there is anything in that for us,” Mrs Arestia said.
The Sentinel-Times contacted the National Australia on Monday this week. Here’s a statement by the bank:
“After careful consideration, and in response to the changing ways customers are banking with us, we will be closing our Korumburra branch from 10 February, 2017.
“We are sorry to be leaving Korumburra but the viability of all our branches is closely linked to the number of people who transact at them, and we are finding more and more customers choosing to bank online and less people using branches like they used to.
“We have contacted customers to let them know their options for in-person banking which includes at our nearby Leongatha branch.
“Customers can also continue to withdraw and deposit cash, pay bills and check their account balance at any Australia Post outlet with Bank@Post such as the Korumburra Post Office.
“Customers can still do day-to-day banking at NAB ATMs and rediATMs or by using NAB Internet Banking (nab.com.au) or NAB Telephone Banking (13 22 65).
“We remain committed to supporting the South Gippsland region and our team is available to support customers through the transition.”
As late as 12noon yesterday, customers had not been contacted, according to Mrs Arestia.