TSB is nobody’s local bank

I’m one of the people who’s been “bumped” from Lloyd’s Bank to the new TSB, a spin-off set up because the EU decided that Lloyds/TSB was too big after getting a government subsidy. The bit that’s now being branded TSB was going to be sold to the Co-Operative Bank, but they pulled out because they have financial trouble of their own. The new branding appeared on a number of Lloyds/TSB and Cheltenham and Gloucester branches last Monday, along with an advertising campaign trumpeting their return to “local banking”. These include adverts at railway stations like the one below (there was a similar one at Vauxhall, the first station out), which reads “Hello Waterloo, welcome back to local banking”.

A large advertisement from the TSB bank at a railway station, reading "Hello Waterloo, welcome back to local banking"

The problem is that there is no TSB branch at either Waterloo or Vauxhall. To make matters worse, there is actually a Lloyds branch at Waterloo, so if you have previously been a Lloyds/TSB customer and have been bumped, you’ve just lost a bank branch at Waterloo. (The nearest is at the Elephant and Castle, but the nearest in the other direction is in High Holborn, which is nowhere near, say, Trafalgar Square.) There are actually no branches in the West End, one in the Westminster area, one on Baker Street and seven in the City. There are vast tracts of south London where there simply are no branches: they include Tooting, Mitcham, Norbury, Streatham, Brixton, Dulwich, Penge, Crystal Palace, Beckenham, Catford and Lewisham. (Clapham and Peckham have one each.) In this area, all of our local branches — the ones in the small centres like New Malden, Tolworth, Surbiton, Raynes Park and Worcester Park, are staying Lloyd’s; only the Kingston CéG branch is becoming a TSB.

I was chosen for transfer to TSB because I opened my account at Aberystwyth in 1995, but that branch was a Lloyds. If I had wanted to open a TSB account, I could have done so at the branch in Croydon, but Lloyds was advertising student accounts and I opened one. Lloyds were a major bank, although less so than after they acquired TSB and (much later) the Bank of Scotland, and it was a bank that had branches almost everywhere. I don’t remember there being a TSB branch in Aberystwyth; they had branches in big towns. Admittedly, there are Link cashpoints everywhere and I can do some of my banking online, but I opened an account at a bank which had a dense network of branches, not a small scattering here and there.

I’ve also had a look at the new TSB website. Really, what a dull and dated website! It looks like it’s optimised for a screen 800 pixels wide, which were last popular about 15 years ago at least. Anything wider, and it’s all tucked into the left-hand side of the screen or window. And the “branch finder” isn’t very reliable: a search for KT3 (the postcode for New Malden, where I live) results in a single result — Tadworth, 9½ miles away, when the nearest branch is in fact just a mile or so away in Kingston town centre. A search for Croydon, either as a town or district, or for CR0 or CR9 gives no results (there is in fact a branch of C&G which is becoming a TSB in North End). So, it looks like they couldn’t be bothered, or didn’t have the resources, to design a modern-looking website and just dug up the Lloyds website from about 10 years ago; it looks bad, and doesn’t inspire much confidence.

And a brief look at that website reveals that it’s headquartered in Edinburgh. That could be in a separate country to the one I live in before the next election. Not exactly the right time to be advertising a Scottish bank to Londoners as “local banking”, is it?

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