MANDEVILLE, Manchester — Mandeville Mayor Donovan Mitchell has scolded Bank of Nova Scotia for opting not to encash cheques, which he says has negatively affected people and institutions, including the Manchester Municipal Corporation.
“Banks now are refusing from changing cheques and all those stuff, and some of the things I see happening because of COVID… I just think some of these institutions are becoming unreasonable and overbearing,” he said during Thursday’s monthly sitting of the municipal corporation.
“I can’t see, for the life of me, persons work, for example, and it adds additional pressure for persons who have to do business. You wake up at seven o’clock or before seven, and you join the bank line. We [municipal corporation] do business with Bank of Nova Scotia and so we issue somebody with a cheque and the person goes to the bank and joins the line, only to be told after waiting in a line for four hours that ‘we not changing cheque’. Now, this is your bank that you have drawn the cheque on, this is where the account is. Now you are going to be forced to lodge the cheque and you can’t draw the money until the cheque is cleared,” Mitchell said.
The mayor said the problem had been compounded by the bank’s decision to elevate the limit on the amount of money which can be withdrawn from ATMs (automated teller machines) without some customers even being aware.
“…at the same time, one of the things that these banks have done is that your withdrawal amount has been increased without the knowledge of some persons,” Mitchell said.
He believes that this move has increased the likelihood of scammers fleecing people through their bank accounts.
“When you listen to voice clips about [scammers] trying to scam persons and they tell you about what they do with the machines and all of that, a poor little person with him little [money], some of these persons don’t even know how to use the machines. I think banks need to do better,” he said.
According to the mayor,the approach by the bank has added to the burden of its customers in the age of COVID-19 and could lead to mental health problems.
“We are creating additional burden that the people don’t need at this time. The psychological problems… this thing is going to take a toll on a number of us, because it can’t work. You have pay bill to do and if you can’t go into the bank to draw cash to go pay your people… This is ridiculous,” he said.
“We [municipal corporation] may have to write to our Ministry (Local Government) to say this is how the situation operates, and it is causing undue pressure, because when a man collect money fi go pay man weh work fi him and him nah get him money and nuh work nah gwaan now, and him wife and pickney a dead fi hungry, is another situation you are opening to,” Mitchell said.
“The banks have to be considerate. People not keeping money under mattress, because you don’t even have that to keep now a days. I have gotten so many complaints, people are crying,” he said.
In a response to a letter to the editor of the Jamaica Observer published on May 7, Scotiabank cited efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 as the reason for changes in how it does business.
“These measures include reduced opening hours and staff rotation to allow for the required six-feet physical distancing among the employees who work in the branch. This means that we have a reduced complement of employees to serve our customers at any one time and, in most branches, we can only serve customers at every other station,” the statement read in part.
“We have four other channels for customers to access banking services. These are online banking, mobile banking, automated banking machines (ABMs), and telephone banking via our TeleScotia service. We are also encouraging customers to discontinue cheque issuance and to utilise electronic direct deposits, as this is a safer method of accepting and receiving payments at this time. We have been working with our business customers to provide them with access to online banking to facilitate digital payments and to open accounts for their employees and regular payees who do not currently have bank accounts. Customers requesting cheque encashment would be redirected to our ABMs to deposit their cheques,” Scotiabank said.
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