A bank has brought in new technology to help deaf customers after paying out £2,000 to a woman alleging disability discrimination. Fiona McKendry, aged in her 30s, contacted Northern Bank Ltd after spotting ongoing fraudulent activity on her account.
The Belfast woman, who is profoundly deaf and wears hearing aids in both ears, wanted her brother to relay the instructions of the bank employee to her, intending to respond via the speaker phone.
She was lip-reading the information the employee provided to her brother. But she left feeling aggrieved in March 2017 after her contact with the bank. Ms McKendry said: “Even though the bank employee said he could hear me, the account holder, he refused me service because I was lip-reading the information the employee provided to my brother via speaker phone. I could see attempted transactions happening on my account while this call was ongoing and was extremely worried.”
The bank blocked the card immediately after her phone call but following her experience she contacted her bank via secure messaging on the online banking app. The app says it can take three to five days or more to get a response. Ms McKendry was concerned that the app would be inadequate to deal with her urgent situation. The next morning, she was invited to meet the branch manager who confirmed her account was safe and missing funds would be reinstated.