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Pat McFadden MP: How does your bank treat you?

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In this guest post for Which? Conversation, Pat McFadden MP explains how the government has tasked the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards to investigate the state of British banking…

In recent months, standards in banking have been questioned more than ever. The mis-selling of financial products and the manipulation of Libor have, quite understandably, generated a wave of anger throughout our society.

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards was established at the request of the leaders of all three main political parties to consider and report on the professional standards and culture of the UK banking sector and the lessons to be learned about corporate governance, transparency and conflicts of interest.

We will be making recommendations for legislative action later this year and reporting on other matters as soon as possible thereafter.

Day-to-day experience of banking

The way in which you are treated by your banks – whether as a business or an individual – is central to the Commission’s work.

That is why the Commission decided to form a panel of its members, which I am leading, to look specifically at issues arising from the consumer and business experience of banks.

The aim of this panel is to gather evidence so that the Commission may better understand how you feel about banks and whether you think you’re being treated fairly.

Banks are absolutely crucial to the functioning of a modern economy. When we have a situation where some banks have collapsed, where businesses cannot get the finance that they need, and where trust in the whole sector has been eroded, then that matters a great deal.

Erosion of trust in banks

But however much trust has been eroded, it is crucial that we have a banking sector that works for the whole economy – that provides finance to back great ideas, supports great businesses and helps the economy grow.

I was keen that the panel get out of Westminster to hear directly from small businesses and consumers and that’s why we started our work in Birmingham, listening to the views of business people and taking part in a consumer event organised by Which?.

I’m aware that a number of you also submitted your views online prior to the event. Thoughts captured here and on the night will be considered carefully when we report back to the full Commission. The entire process, from the Commission’s initial evidence sessions right through to the publication of our final report can be followed at www.parliament.uk/bankingstandards.

How do you feel your bank treats you? Is there something you’d like the Commission to look into during its investigations?

Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Rt Hon Pat McFadden MP, a member of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. All opinions expressed here are Pat’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.

Gordon housley says:
28 September 2012

I lost faith in the main High Street branches long before the recent scandals. Once I found that Bank staff were recommending the best products for the bank and not the best for me I started looking for a better alternative having tried other banks I eventually settled on the Coop Bank and noticed a better approach to their customers. No pressurised sales pitches just offers of help when we had a healthy balance (offers not needed, but good to have). They may not pay top interest, but I was able to feel smug when the recent scandals broke and the Coop were not involved. When they made a small mistake they paid out the £15 promised without me having to chase them up. There has only been one mistake. I hope the addition of the Lloyd’s branches doesn’t result in a reduction in the quality of service.

Every year doing my wife’s and my tax return is a nightmare as some banks/building societies make obtaining tax deduction certificates very difficult.Resonses this week are as follows:-
Barclays:You can’t order the cert. on the telephone as the account has been closed for five months ;write us a letter.
Clydesdale Bank: Interest paid to you last October (11) should not be included in your 2011-2012 tax return so we can’t send you the cert.
ICICI bank-absolute nightmare-kept saying log in to your account(to print the cert.) when the password had long expired.Alternative was to pay them £5 to have the cert sent by post.However, they were prepared to send me a new password by post free of charge?
Others hopeless cases are Nationwide-issued a supplementary credit card in the wrong name three times.
Saffron BS- gave me the wrong form to take home and complete for an account for a new grandchild.(nobody at the branch could process the form -I needed to make an appointment to open an account).They also gave me wrong information regarding completion of the IR tax paid gross form.About a month after I thought I had opened the account they wrote and said they still required documents to prove my identity despite assuring me earlier this was not required as I was an existing account holder.

I bank with Nationwide (current a/c) and have had no problems at all – in branch they are knowledgable and helpful and on-line banking is easy. I have another current account with Barclays, but have found counter staff less knowledgeable – but they might be isolated instances. However I stick with straightforward business – deposits, payments and transfers. I do not automatically expect them to offer good financial products – sorting out what I need requires some research to find an appropriate product. Which?, for example, and on-line sites, help here. After all, banks are industries like any other, there to make a profit. Finding a way to rapidly stop misleading or fraudulent activities means having a competent and reactive authority to act quickly, whether warning consumers or sanctioning banks. Is a government body capable of this – history says not, they are neither competent nor on the ball. Pat McFadden might start by putting this particular house in order.

Dan Mercer says:
8 November 2012

Pasted herewith my complaint to Northern Rock which perfectly illustrates scale of their reprobation!

I should like an answer
to the following:
My account wi You’s has
been subject of long
running dispute due to
overdrafts and charges
on charges occurring due
to Direct Debits paid out
in error and quite
understandably I
discontinued having
regular payments
sent there as anyone
would in the
circumstances . . . In
hope that things
would resolve in
passage of time whilst
a Claim wis being
may I add!) instructed
payment to be made to
Rock account to clear
ovedrdraft if nothing
else but You’s been
and utter cretins by
since docking more
charges wrongfully,
account WITHOUT
accepting the payment
and now refusing me
access to not just the
amount in dispute but
the full amount and
the accounts being
This is clearcut case of
acting ultra vires by
unlawfully refusing
to money that is
indisputably mine in
refusing to lift freeze
and allow
me to withdraw it from
ATM . . . Not a case of
‘Can’t – it’s point blank
‘WON’T’ as You’s can do
it and been through this
crap beforeas You’s
always hastily freeze if
no transactions in a
A very kind lady from
Wick CAB has spent a
considerable amount of
time on
phone to them
explaining the severe
hardship caused by this
ie important
trip for Medical
Appointment is in
jeopardy yet You’s still
remain as recalciatrant!
Whilst You’s can use
rights of offset to
settle an overdraft
it is not acceptable
whatsoever to refuse
customer access to
without lawful reason –
obviously You’s will deny
so doing on
grounds they said I can
either be sent a cheque
or withdraw in branch
which is ne use when
nearest is Aberdeen and
I need acess to money
not in 2 weeks time
when Cheque is posted
and cleared!
If You’s intend to close
an account or withdraw
ATM access et al You’re
meant to give Customer
due notice in writing
which You’ve ne done –
such denial of access is
clearly taking place and
presents clear grounds
for compensation . . .
CAB Lady also
requested You’s to do
transfer to my new
account at RBS – said
can’t . . . more like
All in all You’s have
some nerve accepting a
significant payment into
frozen account and
unlawfully denying and
delaying access . . . If
can do that and dock
charges when it suits
then ‘Can’t’ should
clearly be interpreted as
Spin for ‘Won’t’ in pretty
well all instances!