WHEN Sylvia De Luca’s local bank branch closed around the corner from her Juniper Green home, she was determined not to let it affect her independence.
So the sprightly 97-year-old hopped on a bus into the West End and walked to the RBS on Princes Street to withdraw cash fortnightly over the counter to go shopping.
But to her horror on her last visit, Mrs De Luca was refused face-to-face service and told to use a cash machine – despite having no idea how to use one.
“I think it’s a disgrace people my age don’t get counter service,” said Mrs De Luca, who walks with a stick and suffers Raynaud’s disease which limits movement in her fingers.
“She told me I’d have to use the machine but I know nothing about technology – she could’ve helped me, I’m 97! What have they got a counter for then? It’s my money, not their money.
“It made me nervous. It really bothered me,” added the RBS customer of 65 years.
Mrs De Luca, who served behind the counter of various family businesses in Edinburgh for 70 years, said her generation are reliant on personal service.
“They refused me counter service and yet they saw me, I can hardly walk. It affected me very badly.”
Mrs De Luca began working in Tarry’s fish shop at Haymarket when only 14 and ran her last store, Little Women, in Newington before finally retiring at 84.
She joined a queue and handed her debit card and bus pass to a member of staff only to be told counter service was no longer available.
Mrs De Luca was eventually rescued by a bank worker who recognised her from the Juniper Green branch and helped her withdraw her cash.
“I was mortified. Now my son gets my money from his bank and brings it to me and I give him a cheque.
“My family are very good to me but I want my independence,” said the mother-of-two, grandmother-of-four and great grandmother-of-two.
Mrs De Luca’s family are worried other elderly customers are being left to struggle as companies embrace technology.
Daughter Deanna McQue, 74, said: “So many people from mum’s age group are too embarrassed to share similar experiences. Maybe they can’t remember their pin number or use the machine with their fingers.”
Niece Norma Edington, 63, added: “It’s not always safe to use machines as there could be someone behind them.”
A Royal Bank of Scotland spokeswoman said: “We apologise to Mrs De Luca for the difficulties she experienced trying to withdraw cash in our branch. The level of service she received in this instance falls far below that which we expect for our customers.
“While we actively try to promote alternative ways to bank during busy periods, including using our ATM machines, a member of staff should have helped Mrs De Luca to use the ATM, or served her at the counter if that was her preference. We apologise for any distress caused.”