WEST ENGLEWOOD — BMO Harris pulled the plug on its branch in West Englewood earlier this month, leaving customers irritated about a lack of warning and concerned over the trek to the next closest branch.
"I walked three blocks for nothing. It's cold out here and what they did was bogus," said Shaun Oliver, 56, who lives in Englewood. "The next Harris Bank is like 10 blocks away and that's a long way when you don't have a car."
Oliver, a part-time janitor, was a customer at the BMO Harris bank at 6506 S. Western Ave. But when he arrived Friday, he found locked doors and a sign telling him of the closure. A security guard is posted there, too, guarding the closed branch.
Jim Kappel, a spokesman for BMO Harris, said the bank shuttered the location on Feb. 4.
"We officially closed the branch on Feb. 4 to consolidate our network," Kappel said. "Our nearby branches can better provide enhanced services like drive-up banking to better serve our customers’ banking needs. As a part of the closing, we have reached out to our customers and have been helping them in the transition."
On Feb. 8, customers were sent a letter from Wallace Harris Jr., regional president for BMO Harris Bank, informing them of the closure.
It read, in part, "We are writing to let you know that after careful consideration, we have decided to close the BMO Harris Bank branch at 6506 S. Western Ave., effective immediately."
Nagle Woods, 45, said he received his letter Feb. 11.
"If the bank supposedly closed Feb. 4 why write a letter four days later to customers informing them?" Woods asked.
Kappel said a letter went out after the closure because the bank first had to check to make sure mailing addresses for customers were correct.
"We wanted to ensure we had a complete and accurate list of all customers who were affected," Kappel said. "The timing of the mailings was driven by ensuring we reached out to all our customers including those that did not have accounts at that location but had banked there recently."
Standing watch inside the empty branch is a security guard.
"We still have security in place as we still have assets at that location," added Kappel.
Oliver wasn't pleased with the inconvenience.
"I might as well go back to using Currency Exchanges," he said. "At least they never close down."