Joan Sheridan says the e-mail she received from her bank late Monday afternoon confused and upset her.
In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, Needham Bank said it would continue serving customers at its nine branches at drive-up windows, online, and by phone.
But the e-mail made no mention of walk-in customers, many of them older people like Sheridan, 83, of Needham, who do their banking at a teller’s window.
Sheridan needed to transfer about $1,000 from her savings account into her checking account to pay bills, including one for her autistic adult son who lives in a nearby group home.
Because walk-in service was not mentioned in the e-mail, Sheridan assumed the bank was closing its offices. Since it was already past closing time by the time she got the e-mail, she could only hope that the bank’s lobby would still be open Tuesday morning.
So, at a little after 7 a.m., when the bank normally opens, Sheridan was there, her tattered savings account passbook in hand.
But as she approached, she noticed a sign taped to the bank front door. The bank was closed.
Since there is no drive-up window at the Needham branch (seven of the bank’s nine branches do have them) an angry Sheridan drove home — and contacted the Globe.
“They say you can do banking on the phone and online, but I’m 83 and it’s overwhelming to me,” she said. “If they had only kept the bank open until noon, that would have been OK. I could have gotten there.”
The first sentence of the e-mail Sheridan received from the bank referred to Governor Charlie Baker’s stay- at-home advisory, which was announced Monday, to go in effect at noon Tuesday.
That led Sheridan to believe — and to hope — that the shutdown of walk-in customers would also be at noon on Tuesday.
“I don’t think it was fair for the bank to send out a letter and not give customers the chance to come in one last time before closing,” she said. “It just created another worry in this whole crisis.”
When she needs to transfer money, she arrives at the bank lobby with her savings account passbook.
That’s the way she’s done it for 50 years at the branch office on Great Plain Avenue in Needham, she says.
Later on Tuesday, Sheridan, determined to get her banking done, drove to the branch in Wellesley and made her transfer at the drive-up window.
I contacted three of Needham Bank’s top managers by e-mail with a detailed request for comment late Tuesday morning.
Apparently tipped off by my e-mail, Needham Bank contacted Sheridan directly Tuesday afternoon. To its credit, the bank offered to open the bank for her or have an employee come to her home. She declined, saying she had already done what was needed.
The bank later issued a statement saying it had acted “out of concern for our customers and employees. We felt it was irresponsible to have people in our lobbies, particularly older customers who are more at risk.”
I know these are hugely stressful times for everyone. Still, it would have been nice if the bank had thought of the likes of Joan Sheridan.
Couldn’t it have kept one teller’s window open until noon for people like her, longtime customers who prefer banking the old-fashioned way?