Is this the end of service industries

Is anyone as fed up as I am with the erosion of counter services?

Usually I am quite happy to go to a hole in the wall or a ticket machine but occasionally there are problems and I want to be able to sort this out face to face straightaway

The worst culprit is the HSBC bank. Their counter service has been as limited as it can possibly be for several years now. The final straw came when I tried to transfer money from one account to another. I had physically remove the money from one machine and place it into another and as there is a limit on the amount drawn in one day I had to do this over a period of several days costing time and money so I changed banks to one with a more user friendly counter service.

London underground have also had a very limited counter service. At least they realise that Their jobs are threatened by ticket machines. They are told not to offer a counter service if it is possible to use a machine. Oyster cards have made life easier but the biggest flaw is the inability to top up on buses. Many times I have been caught at night in the rain with no change. This happened so many times, I now have an app which tells me how much I have left. Other major flaws are non functioning machines, failure to accept some coins especially when you have no change and station closures causing incomplete journeys so they won’t accept them on local buses as promised

Only today I saw red when I went to my “local” post office which is now 1.2 miles away from my home. This is because they have closed three busy sub post offices in recent years. While standing in the queue a particularly beligerent young man was walking up and down the queue showing people how to buy stamps from the new machine or directing them to a local pay point to pay bills. I pointed out this machine would eventually replace him and all the other staff, that I like to be able to use a counter service and I have had to walk over a mile to avail of this service. He told me that there is always a post office within half a mile which is completely untrue. I can think of many areas including my own that I longer have a post office within half a mile. Going to the post office is never a pleasant experience and I only go when I absolutely have to. I do my own post by Smartstamp so I only go when I have parcels or special delivery so I was quite annoyed by my visit this morning

I tried to phone the housing trust yesterday to report a repair. Calling a special repair number was a procedure which worked perfectly well, since today it is necessary to phone a central number and leave a message for them to ring back and give you another number to ring

I feel so sorry for people who cannot use the Internet and don’t understand the machines. I can also see that long term many jobs will be lost although there may be a future in designing machines or fixing broken ones

My husband and I resist machines for all but the simplest tasks because we know that eventually half the people will lose their jobs and will never be replaced. We owe it to the next generation to protect their jobs

Thank goodness I work in an industry that relies on personal service. I provide a service that cannot be replaced by a machine. It is true that simple travel arrangements can be done on the Internet but more complicated arrangements still need a travel expert like myself. One who can recommend suitable destinations, hotels, restaurants, trips, car hire and so many other things doing all the hard work for you. I know my clients appreciate and value what I do for them and I sincerely hope that I can find knowledgeable people like me in other industries for the foreseeable future


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