Nationwide calls on customers to respect its staff

Nationwide building society has called on customers to respect its staff after a spike in abuse in branches.

It said the number of incidents of customer abuse from the start of lockdown to the end of July was double the number before the pandemic. 

Sources said some customers would get aggressive if they were turned away because their transaction was deemed non-essential, or if they were asked to queue for access to a branch. 

Threatening behaviour: Nationwide said the number of incidents of customer abuse from the start of lockdown to the end of July was double the number before the pandemic

Threatening behaviour: Nationwide said the number of incidents of customer abuse from the start of lockdown to the end of July was double the number before the pandemic

Threatening behaviour: Nationwide said the number of incidents of customer abuse from the start of lockdown to the end of July was double the number before the pandemic

A source said in one incident a woman ran around a branch breathing on counter surfaces to taunt staff. Other customers licked banknotes as a threat to staff. 

The source said: ‘Branch staff really worry about this. They are concerned about bumping into these people when they leave work.’

Nationwide closed customers’ accounts in response to the most extreme cases. 

It is understood that the building society did not have a blanket ban on non-essential transactions in branches. However, it did urge customers to use online banking if possible to help staff in branches to prioritise the most vulnerable customers. 

A spokesman for Nationwide said: ‘We’ve seen a doubling in the amount of rude and aggressive behaviour from members of the public in our branches. 

‘Unfortunately, we are not alone. This is wrong and we won’t stand for it. We would ask all those visiting a branch to treat staff with respect.’

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