Alan Dee: Another expensive banking facelift – any chance of getting our money back?
Shopfitters have been on double time over the past few days, transforming more than 600 High Street branches of the Lloyds banking giant and giving them a brand new name.
Well, an old name, to be fair. It was about 20 years ago that Lloyds took over the Trustee Savings Bank and set about incorporating the network into its own bloated structure.
Now, as a result of that economic unpleasantness to which the best brains of banking made such a significant contribution, they’ve been ordered to break up the behemoth and get back to basics.
So they’ve picked those three initials from years ago as the new brand, although apparently they don’t stand for Trustee Savings Bank any more. They don’t stand for anything, as far as I can see.
I’m with you so far, though I’m not sure why that means that the Lloyds Bank on one side of the street just down the road from me has to have a smart new green sign while the branch of the Cheltenham & Gloucester on the other side of the street gets a whole new look as the TSB.
Yes, of course the Cheltenham & Gloucester is also part of Lloyds. Do keep up.
The full cost of this double-quick makeover is unclear, but apparently £30m is being pumped into branding and advertising.
They’re keen to spend large sums putting out the message that this is all part of connecting with local customers, and they don’t seem to be highlighting the fact that they’ve been ordered to do it on account of the gigantic cock-up they made of things only a few years ago. Funny, that.
That’s only part of it, of course. When one bank has an advertising blitz, the others follow suit to protect their turf, apparently blissfully unaware that we hate them all equally and only use their services on sufferance.
I know I am not alone in being staggered by the amount of money wasted on branding and refits by the big names of finance in recent years.
I’ve lost count of the number of times that my own bank has changed its name, and then changed its look, and then sometimes quickly closed down the branches which have just been expensively refitted.
But if they’re private sector organisations, more fool us for sticking with them and not organising a mass lobby of the next shareholders meeting to ask what the hell is going on.
However, if – like our chums at Lloyds – they’re owned in large part by the taxpayer, and we ploughed billions into baling them out, wouldn’t that money be better spent paying us back rather the redecorating more often than I give a lick of paint to the living room?