Danske Bank customers queue for hours

After company ends traditional in-person transactions at most of its branches, customers still needing personal service are faced with large crowds and long waits

Danske Bank customers have found themselves queuing for hours after the bank ended face-to-face banking transactions at 131 of their branches in early January. The remaining branches are so congested with customers that people can’t even find a place to sit down.

One Danske Bank customer, Anita Kiim, was shocked at what she experienced last Thursday, when she went to the Rådhuspladsen branch in Aarhus, one of the city's last two branches offering face-to-face bank transactions.

“It was simply packed with people and there were no places to sit down. It took exactly an hour and twelve minutes for me in there,” Kiim told P4 Østjylland radio station. “There was an older lady who began weeping because she said she didn’t have the strength to come all the way to town. She didn’t understand the Dankort system or computers and didn’t have many family members to help her.”

The head of the Aarhus branch, Michael Thunbo, said that the bank was prepared for the increased traffic, but that the queuing is part of some early growing pains.

“We have to get used to the fact that there will always be longer queues at the end of the month, but we hope that we’ve adequately explained to people that there is an alternative method that will reduce the queues and waiting times,” Thunbo told DR News, referring to online banking.

Thunbo also disputed that the waiting times were as long as Kiim had suggested. He said that waiting times were no longer than 40 minutes and there were a maximum of 65 customers in the branch at one time.

Danske Bank has come under increasing criticism since they ended face-to-face banking transactions at 131 of their branches on January 9, leaving just 55 branches left that offer the traditional form of banking.

The last 55 include just three banks in the downtown Copenhagen area, two in Odense and two in Aarhus.

Danske Bank’s move to remove face-to-face transactions from most of their branches has attracted criticism from elderly advocates Ældresagen and the dementia association Alzheimerforeningen.  The organisations say that their members will experience greater difficulty in completing banking transactions because of the change.

“The banks have a societal responsibility to treat the elderly properly and maintain a proper service level, also for those who are unable to use cash machines,” Michael Teit Nielsen, the development director at Ældresagen, told Politiken newspaper. “We know that there are 360,000 elderly who have never used the internet and a large portion of them are Danske Bank customers. And even for those who can, it’s an unrealistic step from sending an email to accessing NemId.”

The latest trouble for Danske Bank comes in the wake their failed 'New Standards' promotional campaign and recent decision to increase the fees for having an account with them.