Ulster Bank has announced a series of measures to assist customers in the face of the coronavirus crisis
Ulster Bank has unveiled new measures aimed at supporting customers in the midst of the growing coronavirus pandemic.
"Today’s changes balance our priorities to keep colleagues and customer safe, whilst continuing to serve customers and restrict unnecessary movement," outlined a statement.
Each day, until 11am, access is being provided to elderly and vulnerable customers only as well as their carers.
"We also have two new dedicated phonelines, one for elderly/ vulnerable customers, their carers and a second for healthcare and emergency workers to help those customers," added the statement.
"An online form for customers requesting a mortgage payment break has also been introduced to our website to speed up this process for customers ."
Alongside that, ten Non-Cash Advice Centres are to close temporarily, effective from Friday 27 March. All Saturday openings are to temporarily cease, effective immediately (29 locations, includes nine advice centres).
The organisation's Mobile Bank on Wheels service is to temporarily cease also.
"At this time, Ulster Bank reminds customers to only to come to branches if they cannot carry out the activity online or on the app," added the statement.
"If customers must come to branches, we are reminding customers to exercise social distancing and avail of the measures in place in branch re: hand sanitiser as well as other public health advice."
Ulster Bank Managing Director of Personal Banking, Ciarán Coyle said:
“We are in unprecedented times and I would like to acknowledge our colleagues for their resilience and for supporting our customers and each other in our communities. We are indeed in this together and we are prioritising the support and protection of our customers and colleagues.
“Ulster Bank’s branch strategy at this time is focused on individual community needs and we will adjust this as the situation evolves to keep as many branches as possible open, while keeping our colleagues as safe as possible. We have prioritised our early opening hours to concentrate support and protection for elderly or vulnerable customers and their carers. We also have a dedicated phoneline for these customers and an additional dedicated line for healthcare and emergency personnel.
“Our ten advice centres, none of which handle cash, will temporarily close effective Friday, 27 March and we will also temporarily halt Saturday opening hours in all locations. Our mobile Bank on Wheels services, will temporarily close and we will be in contact with as many of those customers as we can to advise them of alternative ways to carry out their urgent transactions.
“Numbers of customers visiting branches has fallen in response to social distancing and instructions from our health authorities to stay at home, but we recognise the criticality of the branch for certain customers. Our ATM network will also continue to support customers who need access to cash.
“We encourage our customers to use our online and app services to do your day-to-day banking. If you need to use a branch, for your own safety as well as the safety of your community and those who work in the branch, please check to see if you could carry out the transaction online or via the app. Please exercise social distancing and follow the advice given by the HSE on social interaction.
“We know that there are some delays on some of our telephone lines, we are doing everything we can to help customers but at this time, we ask customers to keep our telephone lines free for those in difficulty who need our urgent help.
“Fraud attempts on our customers are also a serious concern for us right now and we are monitoring this situation to ensure that we protect customers. Our Community Protection Advisor is speaking on local radio stations to get the awareness and protection message out to customers. We urge all customers to be extremely cautious with any transactions or information requests right now. If anyone gets in touch with you unexpectedly and asks you for any information or to complete a transaction, please verify independently before any doing anything with your money or your information.”
We will continue to review branch needs on a community by community basis, adjusting our plans accordingly so we can best ensure that we keep as many branches open as possible while keeping our colleagues as safe as possible. Any adhoc/ temporary changes to branch opening hours will be available on our website. Such changes are to be expected over the coming weeks due to day-to-day availability of staff and the need to ensure all staff receive breaks. Customers are asked, before they leave their homes to come to the branch, to please check to ensure that it is open, if they are not elderly or vulnerable that they arrive after 11am and that they observe social distancing and other health advice.