Up to now I have been a supporter of our business bank. Our business manager may be based in a main branch some miles away but she was always available via e-mail as long as I contacted her before 9am. She handed out her mobile number quite freely to those who needed it. She was in our local branch most Tuesdays and quite often popped her head around the door just to say hello. On more than one occasion I offered her the chance to unload a lorry, but for some strange reason it was not in her job description. At the end of the day she was someone you felt comfortable confiding in and you felt that she would work hard on your behalf within the constraints imposed by the bank. She gave what I call good, old-fashioned service, and it was appreciated. But all of a sudden this has changed. We now have a call centre, which charges us 6p per minute to phone them and no direct contact with a named person. And this is what they called improved service. If I treated my customers with such disdain then they would soon desert me for a customer-friendly rival. But then, talking to other small business owners it appears that most banks now work by ‘remote control’. Small businesses, especially retailers, need support and advice from banks with local knowledge during these turbulent times, not an anonymous call centre that charges to contact them, who only knows you as a number.