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'Bank Refused To Serve Me Because I Wore A Cap'

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Retired Superintendent James Blatch claimed he was refused service after he did not take off his hat at a Bank of Bahamas branch in Grand Bahama.

By DENISE MAYCOCK

Tribune Freeport Reporter

dmaycock@tribunemedia.net

A veteran police officer claims he was denied service and not allowed to access his pension at the Bank of The Bahamas (BOB) in Freeport for refusing to take off his cap when asked by a teller.

Retired Superintendent James Blatch said he was told at the bank on Monday if he wanted to be served, he would have to remove the hat from his head so that the camera could record him.

He said the incident at the Freeport branch has left him distressed and victimised, and without access to his savings account and pension money.

"It is wrong and unacceptable," said the senior citizen who has served over 40 years as a civil servant in law enforcement.

Mr Blatch said he went to deposit some money into his savings account and on entering the bank, was confronted by a security officer who advised him and other men they had to remove their caps.

"Some of the men were resisting and so I asked him why would I have to take my hat off, and he said if I don't take it off 'you can't be served,' so I tipped the cap and he let me walk in," he said.

After proceeding to a teller to make his deposit, he was again told that he needed to take off his cap.

"I asked what for? I have my Bahamian passport which is a legal document, and I gave it to her. She said, 'no, you have to take your cap off for the camera.' I said, 'no, that is illegal'."

When he refused to remove his cap, the teller refused to accept his deposit, he said.

"I told her that if she did not want to serve me, then I need to carry all my money. They called the supervisor who said that if I wanted to carry all my money, I would still have to take off my cap. I said I would not belittle myself," he said.

Mr Blatch said he asked to speak with the bank's manager but was told that he was having lunch. Before the incident on Monday, he said he had already spoken with the manager about the bank's requests of male clients to remove their caps or hats so their faces could be photographed.

"I told him it was wrong and that it was discrimination, and that it was illegal to record or take people's picture without their permission.

"The manager told me he was following orders and that it was for security purposes at the bank, but I explained to him that it couldn't be for security purposes when women are coming in with these big handbags, and there was no metal detector at the door to check their bags."

Mr Blatch said the manager had promised to look into it and make inquiries with the Nassau branch.

Having served 41 years on the police force, he stressed that if there was a real security issue, the bank should have installed cameras in the parking lot, inside the bank, and have a metal detector at the door.

Although male customers are mainly affected, Mr Blatch also learned that a woman customer whose head was bald as a result of undergoing chemotherapy treatments was also embarrassed when she too had to remove her hat while entering the bank.

He said that he never expected such treatment in a government-owned bank.

"I feel terrible; I have served this country for 41 years in the public service; no Bahamian should go through things like that," he stressed.

"I think that people are not paying attention to the violations of our constitutional rights in this country - it is serious. If I come to do my banking at BOB, you should serve me, but they told me I couldn't get my money unless I take off my cap, so I walked out.

"It was very distressing. I could not get my pension money. I could not sleep because of the behavior of those people, and poor people have to go through this at the bank," he said.

"Our liberties are being snuffed from us gradually, and no one is paying attention to it. And these people have licences to offer a service, and everybody is letting them do whatever they want to do, and you still have to pay for the service.

"Why is (this happening) only at BOB? I spoke to the Central Bank of The Bahamas about it, and they don't know about these things. We have to get the information out so that Bahamians will know what is happening and know their constitutional rights."

Comments

TalRussell 1 year, 9 months ago

Comrade Retired Superintendent James Blatch, we thank you for your long years service to your country. It's clear that during the failed negotiations with the teller to withdraw some your own money it became concerning to the teller that you was a potential robber and that's why you had to remove your hat - before even getting withdraw some your own damn money. {You can't out the blue just makeup a story about a government bank's teller and the looks likes a bank robber retired Superintendent}. You did says, its a 'government' bank?

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DaGoobs 1 year, 9 months ago

As an ex-policeman, Mr Blatch ought to know better and ought to be the last person to complain about this no-cap policy. Banks and other business establishments have these policies for their own protection as well as the protection of their legitimate customers. Nowadays people looking to rob an establishment or home resort to many forms of disguises, including the use of hats, caps, hoodies, masks and sunglasses to hide their head, hair, ears, nose, mouth, teeth, features, etc. Therefore it is perfectly understandable for any business to have policies prohibiting persons from wearing hats, caps and sunglasses inside of their establishment, particularly if they have a closed-circuit camera system (to see what I'm talking about, take a look at the man recently robbing John's Shoe Store in cap and sunglasses disguise). The best approach is if the business has a sign posted at the entrance in large letters stating that customers entering the establishment cannot wear hats, caps or sunglasses. They will eventually need to add hoodies to the list. I don't know if Bank of Bahamas has such a sign at its Freeport or other branches but it would be well-advised to do so to eliminate the practice.

Recently I went into the branch of another bank wearing a cap. Once inside, the security guard standing by the entrance door instructed me to remove my cap. I asked him which army was going to make me remove my cap. He did not reply. I sat down on some chairs in front of him waiting to be served. At some point he moved away from the door and that was when I saw a sign on the inside of the door that was hidden from view by his body. The sign stated that the bank did not permit anyone inside the bank wearing hats, caps and sunglasses. I politely removed my cap and put it in my pocket. On leaving the bank, I very humbly apologised to the security guard, telling him that he should have pointed me to the sign on the door as a policy of the bank and his authority for instructing me to remove my cap, as well as telling him that it should have been on a notice board in front of the entrance door where everyone coming into the bank can see it. Just because Blatch is an ex-policeman and a pensioner does not exempt him from complying with the bank's policy on caps. It exists for his and other customers protection.

Blatch also ought to know as a policeman that his complaint to the bank about breaching his privacy by recording him without his consent is a double-edged sword. Most businesses that have security cameras in operation have a sign saying so (my home CCTV system comes with stickers notifying the thieves that my home is protected by cameras). Therefore if I decide to go inside such a business under the Listening Devices Act I am tacitly consenting to being photographed (same tacit consent you give when you call a business and the recording comes on to tell you that your conversation might be recorded and you continue with the call).

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Romrok 1 year, 9 months ago

Being former police working for 41 years he should have known better. He grew up and worked in a time when you took off your hat indoors anywhere. Why pick fights now? Does he wear white shoes and then pick with someone for dirtying them too? It is amazing the stupid crap that we will fight over.

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stillwaters 1 year, 9 months ago

Being a former police officer who always expected citizens to obey his every command on the streets, he should have respected that bank employees also have rules and policies. Shame on him for not taking off his cap when requested.

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blkisleboy 1 year, 9 months ago

You jackasses will allow anything against your rights. Look at the picture of batch , which camera cannot see his face. With his cap on. Wasn’t that picture taken with a cap. Scotia tried that crap with me, I refused, obviously I have personal reasons for wearing a cap which is my right to do. If my face is concealed then of course they can ask me to show my face , but let’s not be stupid because of a rule. I ask the security officer if I was a police officer in uniform would he ask me to remove my cap he said no. So y out of uniform do I have to remove my cap that is in no way concealing my identity. If one enters the bank with a cap on and his head hang down then yes but if not what is the reason for having to remove his cap. That is why many of you are taken advantage of because you don’t know your rights in a democratic society and accept anything. Scotia then changed that stupid policy after many complaints. tHEY need YOUR business.

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Porcupine 1 year, 9 months ago

Pretty much agree. Let's use common sense. Look at Mr. Blatch's face. Why create a problem where there is none. He ain't gonna rob you. Do your job well, take responsibility and get on with it.

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seamphony 1 year, 9 months ago

my guess is Mr Blatch was offended by the rude treatment he received at the bank. There are many ways of kindly explaining him that he should take off his hat and apologize for the inconvenience. Give the man some respect. Rather, after serving 40+ years as a police officer, he was ordered by a lowly security guard about what to do and on top of that he had to deal with bank tellers that acted like he was a nuisance not one of the few account holders still left using BOB. isn't that how it works for most of us? again, i wasn't there. i am just speculating...

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 9 months ago

The banks hire security companies who must be able to operate their CCTV systems ....... the wearing of caps and hoodies and shades are common tactics used by criminals ....... a old policeman should be smarter than this ...... but then many (ex)policemen are dumb as rocks.

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seamphony 1 year, 9 months ago

Serving customers with a smile may not be written down as a job description but is a must for these types of jobs. I can totally see Mr Blatch happily using the drive through ATM that can REPLACE all of the people working in that branch or others, then we will see who has the last laugh.

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ohdrap4 1 year, 9 months ago

depends on how the cap is.

several banks have never denied me a tight turban that show the face and neck clearly.

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TalRussell 1 year, 9 months ago

Comrades, I mean look at the man in the picture, he sure looks like no bank robber I've ever seen.... and with a clearly visible face and hat or no hat, you'd still have hard time to identify any suspect robber from the images produced from those low quality bank surveillance cameras?
From what I read and see from the story's picture the former Policeman's Superintendent having been no stranger to that branch and hat or no hat with ID in the hands of the government employed teller - should've been an easy identification match.
This is another case for King's Counsel Freddy to sue the government's bank for a million dollars and any just and fair jury of 12 man's and woman's would turn the former Policeman's Superintendent into an overnight instant millionaire.

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Tarzan 1 year, 9 months ago

So we finally learn about Tal's qualifications - an expert on what bank robbers look like

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TalRussell 1 year, 9 months ago

Comrade Tarzan, an expert on what bank robbers looks likes and unmasking the masquerading red shirts MP's and Senators. And, you gotta knows the only robbing BOB in Freeport - would've had a teller stickup most innocent looking of a bank's customers to put they money in a savings account - and leave it there. Likes, that's why we got cameras - just in case you walk into branch asking withdraw 'your own' damn money? Finders keepers? Amen!

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CatIslandBoy 1 year, 9 months ago

What poor reporting by this reporter! I am convinced that either the reporters are too lazy, or the editors just don't give a flying hoot. Why don't we hear from the bank's management's viewpoint?

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 9 months ago

Yep, and they still got mad when PM Minnis called them out.

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