PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2008, 12:00am

Should banks have more teller services?

I believe banks should provide more teller services, because customers want to be able to deal with real people.

It is not only those who are not happy with using the internet who would like this. I use ATMs regularly and make some bank transactions online, but I still prefer face-to-face contact with a teller or manager at my local branch for certain issues that a machine cannot handle.

I appreciate that when I call my bank's credit card hotline, a living, breathing human being actually answers the phone, even late at night.

That beats being greeted by an electronic voice instructing me to play tic-tac-toe on my number pad or listening to another recording telling me at regular intervals to 'please stay on the line' because 'your business is important to us', while the muzak plays in the background. Technology can be a convenience, but it does not always work faster or better.

Sometimes it allows companies to shirk their customer service obligations.

Maybe I have been fortunate to have picked a good bank (not one of the big boys, by the way) that still values the old-fashioned concept of interaction between sentient life forms.

Choi Chohong, Kwun Tong

On other matters...

In reply to my letter about concessionary fairs on the MTR (Talkback, June 12), I found the reply from May Wong of the MTR Corporation disappointing and totally inadequate (Talkback, June 23). Her argument about 'synergies', concessions 'taking a chunk' of their resources and 'unfair benefits to a group or passengers' was unconvincing. Once the MTR Corp and Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation merged they should have reviewed their fare policies in a systematic way, offering the same benefits and discounts across the board while still making a profit.

Otherwise, how can they justify the fares to passengers in areas that are not eligible for the concessions? As for the concessions 'taking a chunk', is Ms Wong implying the MTR is subsidising fares on certain lines (Kwun Tong, Tsuen Wan, Island, Tseung Kwan O, Tung Chung and Disneyland Resort lines)?

And is she implying that the corporation cannot afford to do this in other areas (West Rail, East Rail and Ma On Shan lines) as well? Wouldn't it be fairer and better for customer relations if they reviewed the fares so that all students enjoyed a concession?

Regarding the unfair benefits to a group of passengers, the MTR Corp is already doing that by only allowing concessionary fares on some lines. It seems to me that it is discrimination against passengers in the New Territories. Either they give student discounts across the board or not at all.

Also, I have to point out that a few months ago my daughter, who is in Form One, was stopped and reprimanded by an MTR Corp employee when she tried to use her student card at Fanling station and she was told to buy an adult fare. She was upset and embarrassed by the incident but she had no choice but to purchase another Octopus card, which I found quite ridiculous and unnecessary. Students in Kowloon or Hong Kong do not face this problem. It was this incident which prompted me to write to the South China Morning Post.

Mary Potter, Tsim Sha Tsui

The government was generous enough to build an escalator for the residents of Mid-Levels, but the needs of residents of Tai Wo Tsuen village, Pat Heung, are being totally ignored.

We are also taxpayers, but we built our own access road to our village and paid for it. We walk or cycle on the main road to catch a bus or minibus to the railway station every day.

What we need now is to have the rich undergrowth that takes up space along the access road cut regularly for better traffic flow and for safety reasons, but the government has just turned a blind eye to our request. This is totally unacceptable. The undergrowth makes it even narrower for vehicles and pedestrians. There is the chance of an accident at any time, especially in bad weather.

Mid-Levels residents enjoy their escalator free of charge. We hope the government will spare a thought for us and allocate the small amount of money required to have the overgrowth cut.

Jimmy Tsoi Kwok-wai, Yuen Long

Beaches closed, water sports centres closed, kids scared of the water, boat charters losing business. It's that word 'shark' which is wildly thrown around and used by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, to warn us of the dangers lurking beneath the water.

But the incident to which I refer was when bamboo sharks were stranded in a rock pool. The government finds itself very much all at sea when it comes to reacting to shark sightings. There is simply no mechanism in place as to how sightings are categorised, leading to extensive beach closures.

Such quarantines are understandable because officials want to appear proactive, do not want to be accountable and tend to 'err on the side of caution'.

Beaches should be closed if a shark is seen inside the netted area or if there is a positive identification of a potentially dangerous species of shark near beaches. However, the public needs to know that there is no scientific basis for keeping people out of the water after a shark attack or even if a shark is sighted.

Sharks by their very nature use the element of surprise to pursue their prey: there is no warning. The department needs feedback from the public as to how it would like to be informed should a shark be sighted, and a cross-departmental team needs to be set up to provide the most accurate shark alert warning.

Individuals also need to report as accurately as possible what they saw rather than what they thought they saw.

Charles Frew, Living Seas Hong Kong