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Customers angry CIBC will withdraw Bloomfield branch

About 50 CIBC customers attended Thursday night’s information meeting about the Bloomfield branch’s closure in September.

CIBC customers hoping their bank would have a change of heart on closing the Bloomfield branch in September left a “community information meeting” disappointed, and angry, Thursday night.

“The branch will close,” confirmed Jon Kastikainen, senior manager of stakeholder communications. “At the end of the day it’s a business decision.”

Kastikainen stated three-quarters of all banking transactions happen outside of banks – in both urban and rural markets.

His good news that staff will keep their jobs and that the ATM will stay in the current location until the building is sold (and longer if a home is found) wasn’t enough to lift spirits of long-time customers.

“Machines don’t do what people do. We want to deal with human beings,” said Steve Campbell, of County Magazine, to applause from the crowd. “You have no idea… some people don’t even know their bank account numbers, but the tellers do.”

“Nothing replaces relationships,” said Kastikainen, “but this team will be moving to the Picton location.”

When it was made clear he and two other representatives were facilitating the meeting as part of company policy to listen, and to assist anyone with information on relocation of accounts and services, about a half dozen people left the meeting in haste.

Campbell presented letters from the mayor, the Bloomfield Business Assocation, the County’s Director of Development the Chamber of Commerce. He also presented 444 signatures on a petition to keep the bank open. (More as some at the meeting rushed lined up to add their signatures.)

“You may not think that’s a lot of people, but keep in mind the population of Bloomfield is only about 500 people… And it’s not just about people from Bloomfield who use the branch. People from Consecon, Fish Lake and Lake on the Mountain all drive ‘around’ Picton to bank at the Bloomfield branch where they can get the kind of service that they need, quickly and easily.”

“I did have a laugh when I was sitting on my couch and saw the TV commercial where a CIBC financial rep comes to the home of a penguin. I think everybody in this room here wishes that they were a penguin,” Campbell said to laughter and applause from attendees.

“CIBC should change its banking that fits your needs promise to ‘banking that ignores your needs.”

Repeated questions about how the Picton branch would successfully serve elderly, disabled and customers with no time to battle parking and congestion in downtown Picton, were met with a repeated response that the staff would do all they could to assist customers in the transition.

“There’s a number of options available to our clients,” said Kastikainen. “Telephone, mobile banking, ATMs and we will be happy to explain them.”

A suggestion to move the Picton branch to the outskirts of town was met with generous applause. That won’t be happening.

A suggestion to have later banking hours, Kastikainen said could be discussed, if there are changes in volume at the Picton branch.

Volume may change in the wrong direction if those in attendance follow through with statements that they would be moving their accounts, lines of credits and mortgages to other banks in Picton and Wellington that have better parking, are more accessible and avoid the headaches of a congested downtown Picton in tourist season.

Calvin Thomas stated he has been a CIBC customer since high school but he’s now disappointed with the company to the point where he’ll consider paying any penalty fees to move his banking business elsewhere.

He shared CIBC’s staggering profit numbers – in the multi-billions – and asked why the bank choses to close, and destroy small communities.

Kastikainen has heard the same complaints before. He was in Deseronto last summer announcing the closure of that branch (with an ATM left for use)  and residents there must now drive to the County, Belleville or Napanee for closest banking. That bank had been open for more than 75 years. The Bloomfield branch will have been located at 257 Main St., for a week short of 62 years when it closes Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Rob Leek, a B&B owner in Bloomfield, said the evening’s meeting did nothing to make him want to stay with the bank. He showed a copy of the CIBC’s recent Canada 150 advertisement in the Toronto Star. “Funny, the bank abandoned that location too,” he said.

“This decision is devastating for so many business and residential people here tonight,” said Celine Papizewska. “What I’m taking away from this meeting is that we no longer have a presence on your ledgers. But I’m really grateful that the septic system in Bloomfield ensures that you won’t be able to sell your valuable property to a condo developer.”

CIBC states its aim is to build long-term relationships through a service commitment to anticipate and exceed expectations.

But in the end, for Bloomfield residents who spoke of being with CIBC for 30, 40 and more than 50 years, and love their local branch, they have learned breaking up is hard to do.

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  1. Cheryl Anderson says:

    Was anyone else amazed to see the full page ad in the Globe today CIBC saying : “We stand for you. Always have, Always will.” Guess that doesn’t mean Bloomfield.

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