We understand the bank’s desire to get customers visiting branches again. It’s in everyone’s interest for branches to get back to pre-pandemic footfall levels. However, that must be achieved in the right way.

Members are telling us they are being told to telephone customers on the pretext of a wellbeing call, when the aim is to get them into branches to see banking consultants. In a number of cases we are dealing with, staff have been instructed by line management to ignore the marketing indicator – which says whether the customer is happy to be contacted by the bank for marketing purposes by telephone – and use the pandemic as an excuse to engage them in conversation. We don’t think this practice is widespread, thankfully, but we intend to find out from members directly.

As always, the vast majority of line managers are doing the right thing in trying circumstances but there will always be a small number who push the envelope to make sure they’re on the right side of their own line managers. That’s understandable, given the pressure they are under, but they must resist it because they will be the ones who get into trouble. This practice is not only wrong, it breaches FCA guidelines.

Members are also telling us that asking customers to confirm personal details – information which can easily be used by fraudsters – from telephone numbers which are withheld is not very clever. And leaving messages saying you’re calling from a branch is also proving ineffective. At a time when fraud is on the increase and customers, many of whom are elderly and vulnerable are being told not to give out personal details that could be used to access their accounts, contacting them out of the blue does seem a bit outdated. We understand why the bank actively contacts its customers to get them to visit branches, that’s what any business would do, but it needs to be done sensitively and in the right way. The bank needs to revisit its approach quickly. If what is happening isn’t Lloyds policy the bank centrally needs to put a stop to it. If it is policy, Lloyds needs to think again – quickly.

We would like to hear from any members who have been told by line management to ignore the marketing indicator when contacting customers by phone. Any information given to the union will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We are also putting together a survey on the issue of telemarketing, sales and on working hours, post the easing of the lockdown measures. That survey will be issued to branch staff shortly. In the meantime, members with any questions should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).

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