Roundup: Kings Highway Welcome, Bank Of America, More

As Kings Highway Elementary teachers returned to the building yesterday for the first time since March, students and parents welcomed them with messages of gratitude, encouragement and support

Families also clapped as staff members entered (from a safe distance, of course). The traditional school message echoes again: Kind hearts shine, and we will get through this together!

Working together to welcome teachers. (Photo/Elizabeth Ginns Britten

One of the oddest aspects of the pandemic — and there have been many — is the continued closure of local Bank of America branches.

At least 6 in the area have been shut since early spring. That includes the 3 on the Post Road in Westport. The one near Whole Foods, just over the Norwalk line, is still open.

I understand the ease of online banking. But sometimes you need a human being.

BOA is MIA. And no one has said a peep.

And finally … as we near the end of one of the strangest summers ever:

19 responses to “Roundup: Kings Highway Welcome, Bank Of America, More

  1. Bank of America branch on Blackrock Turnpike near the Fairfield Trader Joe’s was open with limited hours. Mary Condon

  2. Dan – you are all over the map. complaining that there are too many banks and branches in westport and now that they aren’t open? I mean who cares. they pay rent don’t they?

  3. James Waldron

    I can’t recall the last time I went into a bank because I needed a human being? If you’re banking with B of A Dan perhaps you should consider dropping them?

  4. Celeste Champagne

    Thank you, Dan, for pointing out the B of A closures throughout the area. The best service was from the branch in Westport just before Southport. I would come from Norwalk on occasion to go there. Now they along with a myriad of others is closed. They have been trying to force us to use machines for years. What is a more intimate experience than your personal finances that require more than a machine to deposit or withdraw. Another COVID calamity.

  5. Just called Bank of America to figure out what to do when we need to get into our safe deposit box. They apparently call and arrange a time to meet you there. This is all just so weird.

  6. Yes, B of A is MIA. I’ve had countless problems with them over the past 6 months and the extended multiple branch closures is quite difficult for those who need to discuss things with a rep. While some may say, “Just call” I’ve had as much success reaching a competent customer rep at B of A as I have at Cablevision…..none! They put you on hold for over an hour then the rep can’t handle your problem so you get transferred and conveniently disconnected. Has happened multiple times. Been dealing with the Norwalk branch as the lesser of two evils but they are understaffed and it can take a quite while to get an appt to speak with a person, in person.

  7. John D. McCarthy

    Heard someone say that the pandemic isn’t changing history, it is just speeding it up. Retail banking where $ is handled person to person serves a purpose today for many people, apparently. But not for long.

  8. Stacy Prince

    I called BoA this afternoon and was told that the Westport Avenue branch in Norwalk is open….

  9. Michael Calise

    All Bank of America Post Road branches from the Norwalk line to the Bridgeport line are closed. Time to search out and support a good local bank. They obviously do not value their customer base in the Westport/Fairfield area.

  10. I don’t get this thread. While no bank fan it seems odd that there is this expectation that they would be operating any differently then many other businesses that have retail functions but are impacted by having a drop in whenever the customer wants capability. hours have been effected in lots of businesses because of Covid and with a bank pre Covid in particular, if wanting service after hours you could use the ATM.

    as opposed to complaining it would seem that the post Covid future has less banks as electronic banking adoption has expanded in Covid. will we be complaining about all the open real estate when the banks shut down those branches. Are there 3 banks on Main Street (is HSBC still there) and one next to the old jail? with all of the empty real estate on Main Street without tenants? wasn’t it just a few months ago that Dan was trying to get a debate about re-developing downtown to make it more accessible? a lifetime ago in Covid world.

    perhaps we can reflect on how different things will be and what our futures look like as opposed to complaining about the little inconveniences we are experiencing.

    • Bill Strittmatter

      Actually, I wonder how many folks are truly inconvenienced. I gather the primary reason for the (nominally temporary) closures is that post-COVID, people simply stopped going into bank branches. They weren’t necessarily that busy to begin but that morphed into days without a single customer entering a branch.

      It will be an interesting question whether COVID has permanently changed behaviors as folks, particularly older folks, have become more comfortable with online banking technology. Reasonable chance that there will be more empty real estate in Westport’s future.

    • Chase Bank is still on Main St where it’s been for at least 30 years.
      The newest bank on Main St is TD bank across from Chase.
      The Westport Ave branch (Norwalk Westport line) which was formally Norwalk Savings Society, then Summit Bank, then Fleet Bank and now currently for the foreseeable future Bank of America has always been the busiest branch.

    • I forgot Bankwell open a branch next door about a year ago.
      That’s the newest bank in the area.
      HSBC is long gone a couple years now next to needle park.

  11. Hey, @Kurt Irwin, I get your point. Just wish they’d sent letters or put something up on their website (like other companies did) explaining how things would work during COVID. It’s one thing when I can’t buy a new pair of pants and another if I can’t get a bank check or access a safe deposit box.

    • Hi @Stacy Prince – I get your point too but imagine it being really really difficult for a company of BoA scale to customize to communicate with you. I mean I get mail from my banks everyday and basically ignore all of it. I doubt companies like GAP figured out how to communicate at the customer level given the number of stores they have . . . but I agree it would be good if they could let us know. according to the FDIC there are 77,000 bank branches in the US. for comparison there are less than 15,000 McDonalds. I think we would all be better off if we had broader perspectives in general.

      • @Kurt Irwin — They do manage to bill me okay (and to generate all that junk we ignore), so I think they can probably figure out how to send us a letter if they want. But yes, scale is an issue, and big is usually not better, imo. Anyway, all businesses (not just banks) were already pulling back on customer service pre-COVID, and COVID’s been a great excuse to expand all the the old “greater than expected wait times” scenarios. Just frustrating to me when the cost of everything is going up. Be well, and I hope your bank is treating you right.

      • Joshua stein

        Super easy for them to customize communications. They have the data, they have the email and snail mail capabilities. They just decided their customers weren’t worth the time or money. That simple.

      • @Stacy Prince @ Joshua Stein

        while I won’t miss them when they are gone and yes they can do all sorts of things they just may not have the incentive to do them. and your only choice is to pick another one . . . which may not do those things either and you won’t know until you do. this is from S&P today.

        8/31/2020 – Research & Analysis: COVID-19 could permanently reduce branch traffic at US banks
        Monday, August 31, 2020 11:14 AM ET
        By Nimayi Dixit

        Bank branch traffic has dropped substantially since the outbreak of the coronavirus due to customer concerns
        about their safety.
        Nearly half of bank customers view branch visits as less safe due to COVID-19 and those fears appear to have
        driven most customers to access branches less often. While there are measures banks can take to alleviate
        safety concerns, changes in branch visitation could be long-lasting, according to S&P Global Market
        Intelligence’s annual U.S. mobile banking survey.
        Roughly 47% of respondents viewed branch visits as less safe due to the COVID-19 outbreak; an additional 15%
        indicated they were unsure about branch safety in the new environment.
        Survey data suggests a strong link between safety concerns and fewer branch visits. Among the respondents
        who viewed branches as less safe, close to 73% also decreased how often they visited branches. Among those
        8/31/2020 Research & Analysis: COVID-19 could permanently reduce branch traffic at US banks
        who were ambivalent about safety, a slight majority – just under 52% – also decreased the frequency of their
        branch visits. Even among those customers who were not concerned about increased safety risks, close to 42%
        still visited branches less frequently. This could be the result of a variety of factors including restrictions on
        movement from government mandated lockdowns or perhaps more subtle social constraints from family or
        friends. In aggregate, these changes amounted to nearly 58% of respondents visiting branches less frequently
        since the COVID-19 outbreak began.
        Decreases in branch visits are not confined to a particular age group either. More than 50% of respondents
        across all age groups in the survey indicated that they are visiting branches less frequently due to the
        coronavirus. However, younger customers, who are more active users of mobile banking applications, appear to
        have decreased branch visits the most. More than 60% of Millennial and Gen Z customers indicated using
        branches less frequently, compared to 54% of baby boomers and 52% of seniors.
        While fears over safety kept customers from visiting branches as often, respondents said banks could take
        measures to alleviate concerns. Regular sanitization of surfaces and implementing mask requirements inside
        branches would change respondents’ opinion on the safety of going to the branch. Roughly 75% of respondents
        who viewed branches as less safe due to COVID-19 indicated that these measures would quell some of their
        Integrating digital technologies into the branch experience could also help reduce customer fears. F.N.B. Corp.
        recently introduced an online tool allowing customers to book branch appointments. The bank said branch
        appointments surged from 21 in January to more than 2,700 in April after introducing the new option.
        As safety concerns reduced branch visits, customers likely valued the greater predictability and control over their
        decision to receive banking services in person. Branches could also benefit from establishing more self-service
        kiosks — more than 40% of survey respondents selected that as a welcome change.
        8/31/2020 Research & Analysis: COVID-19 could permanently reduce branch traffic at US banks
        Some of the most potent customer engagement tools at banks’ disposal in this new environment are their digital
        channels. Several banks have reported spikes in online and mobile banking usage in the wake of COVID-19.
        More than 44% of survey respondents have used their mobile bank apps more frequently in recent months.
        Among the 1,777 respondents who admitted to more frequent usage since the pandemic began, a majority
        anticipate maintaining their current level of usage even after COVID-19 related restrictions are lifted.
        Persistent fears around branch safety along with a consumer population getting increasingly comfortable using
        online and mobile channels could make the recent reduction in branch traffic a more permanent one. Just 23% of
        survey respondents who visited branches less frequently post-COVID anticipate increasing their frequency of
        visits after all virus related restrictions are lifted nationwide. Meanwhile, nearly one-third of customers who have
        visited branches less often since the pandemic erupted expect future visits to be even less frequent.

        • Stacy Prince

          @Kurt Irwin — Thanks for this. I just had to laugh, though. It’s not like I’m “not going to the bank as often” because of COVID: I’m not going ANYwhere much because of COVID! How pollsters and banks choose to use this information is beyond my control, but I stand by my contention that Customer No-Service (Clark Howard) continues its downward spiral.