The contrast could hardly be starker.

Around a decade ago, many people will remember, Bank of Scotland was proudly advertising its mobile branches.

There is even a video on YouTube featuring a look behind the scenes at the making of these television adverts, at the time they were being filmed.

The mood in both the adverts and the behind-the-scenes video is happy. Blue skies and golden sandy beaches feature, with real bank customers filmed in the adverts in idyllic settings.

Bank of Scotland emphasises the importance of the mobile branch service to communities, and especially to the likes of elderly and infirm customers in remote locations. So all quite uplifting.

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The narrative of one of the Bank of Scotland adverts went as follows: “Going the extra mile. It's something we pride ourselves on. And if you're like Ann Maclellan of Mull, it's a big plus. Because rather than travel miles to the bank... we simply bring the you. Bank of Scotland mobile branches. With you all the way.”

Sadly, there has since been a dramatic change in the thinking on mobile branches from Bank of Scotland, which has been part of Lloyds Banking Group for about 15 years now. The Mull service ended in 2021.

And, at the end of November, the bank declared: “We’ve been looking at how customers are using our mobile branches. Many are using them less and choosing other ways to bank instead. Because of this we’ve made the decision to end our service in May 2024.”

On its “closures” page, it stated: “We’re ending our mobile branch service. To help you understand why we’ve made this decision, there will be two separate mobile branch service closure review documents available for each route that visits the locations which are listed.”

What a change in tone from those happy adverts.

The idea that many people are using mobile branches less is not a reason for stopping the service.

Those who are still using the service will be those who need it most. For many of them, the service will be absolutely crucial.

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It would obviously be much cheaper for banks if all their customers chose to bank online but that is not the point.

Whatever happened to the notion of “the customer is always right”?

It has been good to see companies which provide customers with a proper choice of channels, such as retailer Next, doing well.

In contrast, the vast bulk of big UK banks seem determined to reduce that choice.

We should also bear in mind that it is often not an entirely free choice when many bank customers switch to online banking.

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Often it will be because of long queues for telephone banking. Or because the relentless branch closures we have seen in recent years from the big banks have meant that customers are now so far away from a branch.

How many people have received letters in the last few years telling them that their local branch is closing?

Many banking matters are still best dealt with face to face.

It is good to see building society Nationwide’s current stance of being committed to branches, at a time when many of its competitors are shutting them.

The thing about the mobile branch vans is that they were never going to have anything like the same number of customers as a branch in a large city centre on a busy day.

However, they have been a lifeline service for many.

Sometimes the reasoning of Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross on matters business and economic can be somewhat baffling.

However, on the issue of the mobile branch service decision by Bank of Scotland, he hit the nail on the head.

Moray MP Mr Ross talked about banks being “out of touch with the needs of customers”.

He said: “These services are vital for these communities who have already suffered from branch closures in the towns.

"Elderly and vulnerable people in particular continue to want access to banking services in their local area as they simply don't use online banking. Connectivity also remains a major issue for many people living in rural and remote parts of Moray.”

These points are basic common sense but not, it appears, in the view of Bank of Scotland, given the decision it has taken on mobile branches.

Bank of Scotland’s decision comes amid a continuing slew of bank branch closures from major players. Parent Lloyds Banking Group has announced another wave of branch closures, as have Barclays, NatWest and Virgin Money. HSBC has been engaged in a big branch closure programme this year.

It is a demoralising situation.

If you go back far enough, banks seemed wary of closing branches because of the reactions of justifiably annoyed customers and politicians.

Now the bulk of the UK banking sector goes through the motions of providing information and adhering to the rules but shows absolutely no sign of reining in branch closure programmes.

What makes the situation even more galling is that this is occurring at a time when the banks are making huge profits arising from the surge in UK base rates.

For example, Lloyds Banking Group reported in October that Lloyds Bank's profit before tax for the first nine months of 2023 was £5.362 billion, 20% higher than the same period in 2022.

It noted: “Net interest income of £10,432 million was up 10% on the prior year, driven by a stronger net interest margin and higher average interest-earning banking assets.”

That 10% rise in net interest income equates to nearly £1bn.

Yet Lloyds Banking Group feels the need to shut the Bank of Scotland mobile branch services to cut its costs.

It is a remarkable, and most lamentable, situation.