The UK's first Banter-Free Bank is celebrating 12 months in business this week by not marking the occasion in any way. The first branch of the bank was opened in Manchester last March and has proved to be very popular with its clients. The bank operates a strict 'no banter' policy which means that customers and staff discuss business only and no pleasantries are exchanged on bank premises during business hours. Banter-Free Bank's Chief Executive Alan Omerod explains 'we set up the BFB last year when we realised that a large number of people were fed-up queuing in banks for half an hour listening to Mrs Jenkins droning on to the cashier about her latest hip operation. In the BFB there is no chat and staff and customers are forbidden to pass the time of day, its all business'. The policy has proved a big success with customers of the bank. BFB customer Ian Giles told us 'I got fed up nipping into the bank on my lunch-hour to carry out some two-minute transaction only to have to wait 20 minutes while some coffin-dodger shouts through the glass about how well his granddaughter is doing at university. The last straw came when I parked my car on a yellow line and popped into the bank behind some fat cheery builder flirting with the girl behind the desk for 15 minutes, when I came out the traffic-nazis had towed my car away. With the BFB I'm straight in and straight out again, no bullshit'.
The first year of the bank hasn't been without its difficulties however 'yes we have had some trouble' says Omerod ' we had to let some staff go, one teller mistakenly made a comment about the amount of rain we've had lately and a customer complained, we had no option but to sack her.' And its not only the staff who can be problematic 'one customer asked a member of staff what they had planned for the weekend, the teller followed protocol and set off the banter alarm and security came down on him like a ton of bricks'. So how does the bank plan to celebrate its first year in business? 'we aren't celebrating it, I shouldn't even be talking to you, piss off'.