Businessman shocked by bank’s treatment

A MONTROSE businessman has claimed he has been discriminated against by his bank’s telephone banking service because of his disability.

Graham Henderson, who runs Graham’s Garden Care, said he was shocked by the treatment he has received when he has contacted Lloyds TSB’s business banking service.

He suffers from cerebral palsy, which affects his speech, and he said he has had problems making himself understood. Problems have also arisen, he said, due to the attitude of some staff manning the telephone lines.

The bank, however, has this week apologised to Graham for the level of service he has received and has moved quickly to rectify the problem.

For more than 20 years he conducted his business banking through the local branch with no problems, but Lloyds TSB centralised that service to Birmingham last year. Although he conducts as much of his banking as possible online there is some business, such as his annual review, which still has to be carried out over the telephone.

He said: “The last time I ‘phoned the man couldn’t understand me. It’s ridiculous! I asked if he knew what cerebral palsy was, and he said no. How can he manage my account if he doesn’t understand my circumstances? It should be on my notes that I’ve got cerebral palsy.

“I’ve ‘phoned before and the lady on the other end said it was my fault that I talk this way. I was also asked if I couldn’t get a neighbour in to talk for me. Isn’t that discrimination?

“The Montrose manager knew I had a problem so he said he would meet me at the branch, but I was told that after everything was centralised that wasn’t an option.”

Graham said that, because of past experience, he is now reluctant to deal with the bank’s telephone service at all.

He added: “I got a letter in recently telling me it was time for my annual review, and to call them, but it’s so upsetting. I have raised it with them before, but was told to put it in writing but I have difficulty with writing.

“The local staff all understand me and will bend over backwards to help me fill in forms etc. They’re great, but the phone service has been diabolical and now I’m just a number.

“I’ve talked to Capability Scotland and they think there’s only two or three people with cerebral palsy in Scotland who run their own business. We’re in the minority but we’d like an even playing field.”

A Lloyds TSB Scotland spokesman said that an alternative service will be put in place for Graham this week, with access to local specialist support.

He said: “We take seriously our commitments to supporting business entrepreneurs within the disabled community and are disappointed that our normally high levels of customer service were not provided to Mr Henderson.

“We have been in contact with the customer and have now put in place new arrangements that will enable his business requirements to be managed at a local branch through the support of a designated relationship manager.

“We are very sorry for any distress this may have caused.”