I can still remember my first visit to one of the big banks in the city centre as a child. You didn’t need to be asked to behave or keep quiet, the whole ambience of the place just told you this was somewhere serious. High decorated ceilings, polished wooden counters and floors, it all exuded solidity and reflected the pride of the local Midland Bank manager.
Today it’s hard not to be astonished at the run down feel of some of our HSBC (who took them over) branches; dirty carpets, peeling and stained wallpaper, dust, dirt and most amazing of all the level of graffiti. My local branch of HSBC had an invitation to “fuck off” by the notice board for at least a couple of years. It may still be there but as they’ve just closed it I will never know (it was so badly lit in there if was difficult to take a discreet snap.)
So now when we have old fashioned money or cheques to pay in we make the trek to one of the central DIY branches, where three of four staff walk about with iPads hanging round their necks and demonstrate the paying-in machines.
I took this image of one of the signing tables in the Sheffield main branch not long ago. It would be reassuring to think it’s bored kids waiting for parents who have done this, but given that most of it is properly spelt (which might be a little reassuring) I suspect it’s bored older teenagers. It’s clearly been like this for some time, and HSBC (profits last year £7.2 billion) obviously couldn’t care less.
Maybe I should show the photo to Crabtree and Evelyn’s store designers to give them an idea of how their retail outlets could be redone? Still, on the bright side, the pen has not yet been stolen, but then I’m not sure how many of their target customers know what it is.