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We deserve better banks

Better Banks campaign logo

Our surveys have once again found that the big banks aren’t getting customer service right. Standards aren’t being driven up across the industry due to a lack of competition, so today we’re launching a campaign calling for better banks.

Have you ever thought about your bank account and why you need it? Because you love banking? Life would be interesting if you didn’t have one. I suppose you could keep all your cash stuffed in the mattress and take a bit out to pay the gas man (except he doesn’t visit anymore).

So yes, everyone needs a bank account these days. And the banks know that. Maybe you don’t think about your bank too much – the money flowing in and out. But is that all we expect from our bank – somewhere to put our money and make payments? Surely there’s more that they can be doing?

Your bank can see when you’re about to go over your agreed limit, so why don’t they tell you? Some banks automatically text you the moment your payments exceed the limit on your account, and give you time to get your account back into balance before applying charges. But too often we see banks hitting customers with disproportionately large fees for unauthorised overdrafts.

And what about when you fail to pay a bill because your bank’s IT systems have gone down and you can’t get access to your money? Banks can do better and they know it.

Big banks struggling to keep up

So today we’re launching a campaign calling on the regulators, government and banking industry to get banks to listen to us – their customers. There’s a certain quality we can expect from any of our service providers and many of the UK’s biggest banks are struggling to keep up with their smaller rivals.

Some of the smaller banks are getting it right, like First Direct and Metro Bank. Their customers are the happiest, as we found in our latest survey of more than 20,000 customers. But a lack of competition means this isn’t driving up standards across the whole industry.

We want to put customer service in the spotlight for all banks. We want alerts, apps and other tools that would help us manage our money more easily. And we want unfair unauthorised overdrafts to be tackled too.

Sign our petition for better banks

The Competition and Markets Authority’s major inquiry into the current account market is due to conclude in the next few months, but we don’t think current proposals will reform the market. That’s why we’re calling for a collective effort from Government, regulators, and the banking industry to raise the standard of service we receive. And the competition inquiry needs to ensure that banks are held to account for the way they treat their customers.

We know that banks have started to change their culture in response to the mis-selling scandals of recent years, but now is not the time to congratulate them on a job well done. Sorting out the worst practices should be the bare minimum of changes we need to see to create better banking for customers. If you agree, please sign our petition and then tell us how your bank treats you.

[UPDATE 16 FEBRUARY 2016] – Two of the big banks have come out in support of our Better Banks campaign. Les Matheson, CEO of Personal and Business Banking at RBS and NatWest, said:

‘We agree that Britain needs better banks and that is why over the last few years we’ve been challenging the industry to help our customers out, not catch them out and we’re proud of how we’re making banking simpler and fairer for our customers.’

In response to our customer satisfaction survey, Les Matheson added:

‘Whilst we are disappointed in these results, we are determined to do more and we are working with Which? to support their campaign, including raising awareness and education of products – not just for our customers, but across the banking industry.’

Terry Kaye, Divisional Director for Customer Experience at Nationwide Building Society, said:

‘As a mutual, Nationwide is owned by and run for the benefit of its members meaning they are at the heart of what we do. The Society already has the highest customer satisfaction scores amongst its banking peers, but we aren’t complacent and are always striving to further improve the level of service offered to our customers.’



As you know I am keen that we learn fro other countries what happens in their markets. The BBC provides a useful insight into the matter of Bank accounts.

diesel, an interesting overview of some other countries. The UK is seen as very competitive if you stay in credit, but less so if you go into debt. So maybe the moral here is that if, overall, your income matches your outgoings then you may need to reorganise the timing of payments so you remain in credit. Debt is, I think, a major problem for our society that needs to be dealt with – although maybe the economists would disagree.

It is not difficult to work out that you will have more money to spend if you can manage to avoid debt. As I see it, banks advertising accounts with prearranged overdrafts is not good practice and what they should do is to encourage customers to keep their accounts in credit, so that anyone who wants an overdraft should have to ask for one. Likewise, I believe that the default should be for customers to pay off their credit cards automatically by direct debit or otherwise and have to apply to use their card for longer term borrowing.

At present I am fed-up with being reminded by PayPal that I have money in my account.

Lesley says:
13 March 2016

Barclays Bank in Camberley, have taken all but one till and and replaced the cashier tills with three machines, I have waited in the queue for an average of thirty minutes, listening to people moaning about how bad this is but none of them complain to staff, I have complained and they have confirmed that they will not be doing anything about this. I will, I am taking my business elsewhere.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

We, the taxpayer, have supported the banks to the tune of £billions when they created massive financial problems for themselves. So far there is little sign of either remorse/changing ways or of any payback to us. The least banks can do is provide an efficient, ethical and low cost service in return for our helping them. And the least the Government can do is make the banks do this.

As far as I know RBS, Lloyds, Bradford and Bingley and Northern Rocks were directly supported. The other banks and building societies were required to provide increased provisions to help the banking system, even those with no history of stupid financial gambling. We must not tar all with the same brush.

We, the taxpayer, have helped the banks to the tune of £billions when they created their own financial disaster. So far there has been no sign of remorse/changing ways from the banks. The least they can do in return is to give us low cost, efficient service and the least the Government can do is to make them.