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Consumers, employees are always the ones to lose

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Eight employees of RBTT Bank Caribbean Ltd have received letters from their employer indicating that after Friday, April 17, their services will no longer be required.

These Vincentians will join many others from that bank and the other multinational corporations operating here, who are now without jobs, having been severed over the last few years, as these foreign owned companies chop, cut, squeeze, consolidate and automate to maximize profit for their shareholders in foreign countries.{{more}}

These eight RBTT employees could not be going home at a worse time in terms of availability of new jobs or an enabling economic environment for the development of small business.

And while these companies transform themselves under the guise of increasing efficiencies, one wonders if any consideration is ever given to the effect these changes have on their clients, as many times, downsizing and mergers are accompanied by a deterioration in customer service.

It now seems to be asking too much of these multinationals to hire someone to answer their phones. Instead, what one gets is menu after menu of choices, which take you in a circle before finally cutting you off. We are charged ever increasing fees for almost every banking service, whether provided by a human or machine, and given little or no interest on our deposits.

Because of the much reduced workforce, appointments now have to be made at some of these financial institutions for straightforward services like opening deposit accounts. And the few employees who remain to provide service are sometimes testy and at times unpleasant to deal with because of increased workloads and unrealistic targets.

The multinationals say that merging and consolidating are necessary for them to survive in this world of global competition. But, as we see in the case of the merger between Cable and Wireless and Columbus Communications, jobs are already being lost and will result in a reduction in the limited choice for consumers and small businesses and will drive prices and services in whatever direction these companies wish.

Have these companies ever considered that poor customer service is bad business? That they could, in their efforts to save, be choking the life out of their businesses? That in some cases, their decisions could be penny wise and pound foolish?

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