/ Money

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.’


Why are people so fearful of changing banks?? Tell your friends and family its time to change if they haven’t yet and support greater monitoring of banks. Greed it seems is good but being honest is what they should. We cant rely on politicians it seems, as they support the type of capitalism that fosters greed!
This is one positive way we can make a difference and have influence – just do it!

Ken Wiles says:
18 February 2016

The most efficient way to get the best from an admittedly poor bunch of banks is to keep up to speed with what they have to offer and to change immediately that you can find a better service. I have changed banks several times over the past ten years and I always inform the branch manager of why I am changing banks and what they could do to ensure greater customer loyalty from me as a “valued customer”, a term that they use rather too glibly and one which never fails to make me laugh.

banks should act in the best interest of their customers, not their shareholders.
Only use financial organisations owned by their membeers, with no shareholders’ pockets to line.

I bank with a building society now. What a difference! If I go over my o/d limit it costs me 50p per day, as against the ‘administration fee’ and charges of £28 per day my old bank charged me . I also get a text telling me I’m about to go over my limit so I can do something to avoid it. They will also let me increase my o/d temporarily to avoid charges. We are also about to move our business account to a more ethical bank.

I had considered going to Marks and Spencer but I found they are serviced by HSBC which I left after 40 years over poor service, so I’ll stay with Lloyds and its better savings rate and local branch until I find something better.

I was in that situation a few years ago, I went overdrawn a direct debit was refused.
They then piled charges on top of more charges. I complained, to no avail.
I changed banks afterwards. It was just a rip off.

Brian Kerly says:
18 February 2016

The banks are not working for the customers’ best interests, they are working for their own benefit. When I read of the huge bonuses obtained by banking management and then relate that to the poor service and non existent interest rates then I know why they exist. It is not for the users! Maybe if the banks recycled their profits into the local branches and also put funds into some form of bonus / interest payments for customers then we would not feel as we do.

The beginning of last year I was charged nearly £100 direct from my NatWest bank a/c. which I knew nothing about, until I made an appointment with them to ask details of what it was. Having banked with them for quite a few years made me realise that they certainly weren’t there to help me.


Lyn Matthews says:
18 February 2016

My Bank is like the Marie Celeste! You can’t find anyone to help with queries & the queues are dreadful. I usually use the ATM’s but quite often @ least one is out if order. I now phone if I have a query, they are helpful & its a good opportunity to have a moan about my local branch!

Its about time the government regulating body ensures that the banks are servicing their customers in an ethical way. With the recent scandal of PPI, the government should ensure that the banks who know who they have miss-sold to, should automatically credit those customers and not wait for the individual to check . Many will miss out because they are not able to manage to go about claiming on their own. So the banks will be keeping a good sum for themselves. After a given date the Govt. should have a proper audit to check that the banks have carried through this exercise and ensure that all customers receive what is due to them.

Anna Keleher says:
18 February 2016

I sent a cheque for £20 cheque to my nephew for his birthday. He is a low earner and had gone over overdrawn and his account doesn’t allow this. , by £7 . So they took my £20 and closed his account. It was money I could ill afford but hey it was a birthday gift. I felt so defrauded. Same old story…. penalising those of us who are not well off. It is really not helpful.

When bank officials break the law they should particularly go to jail just the same as any ordinary individual would but more so because of their privileged position.

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I think you will find, Duncan, that, by ancient charter granted by the monarch of the day, the Lord Mayor has only precedence within the City of London [and only within the City], and certainly does not outrank the Queen constitutionally. The City is also bound by the laws made by Parliament, many of which it has promoted for its own benefit of course just as other corporations do throughout the country.

I thought any corruption and financial malfeasance would be found further east in Docklands around Canary Wharf but there are few secrets these days so all will be revealed in due course.

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Yes, the Lord Mayor has to precede the Queen as otherwise the law would be broken.

You can’t have it both ways Duncan – the City’s doings are either secret or they’re known all around the world. Personally I’m not that bothered by who owns what but I can see that it does trouble a lot of people.

No matter how much money you throw at the NHS it won’t put another doctor on the ward this weekend or put another paramedic behind the wheel of an ambulance. The big contribution the banks can make to solving our health service problems is to stop driving their customers insane or making them ill with worry.

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I understand what you’re saying Duncan and I have some sympathy with the points you make in your inimitable fashion although I do not have your inside knowledge. My point is that the NHS is a bottomless pit into which money just disappears with little apparent progress and the country can’t afford to keep throwing more down there unless some hard choices are faced. This isn’t the right Conversation for continuing along those lines but in practical terms there are not enough qualified doctors, nurses and other clinicians in the UK, even if they all worked for the NHS, to perform the miracle that people desire.

The phrase “Never give a sucker an even break” was coined by that great comic screen legend W.C. Fields who sometimes portrayed a particularly mean-minded exploiter of other people’s weaknesses, so your analogy in relation to some in the financial services industry is most apposite. However, I would not share your approval of the conduct epitomised by the Liverpudlian tarmac-layer Yosser Hughes in “Boys from the Black Stuff”.

The government has pledged another £10 billion for the NHS by 2020 – we haven’t earned it all yet but we’re slowly getting there. When that contribution has been swallowed and digested we might be in a better position to say how much more is required and where it is needed.

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Here here Duncan

I agree with you in respect of the PFI contracts which are progressively ruining the hospital trusts, although the PFI-funded Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital that I have attended is a fantastic institution and gains nothing but praise from all who go there. Nonetheless the funding arrangement is a financial time bomb and a millstone round the trust’s neck. The PFI method of public funding was brought to us by the financial services industry, of course, in the early 1990’s, but governments of all colours have lapped it up.

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We should strive for a better service from all banks, after all it is our money we are trusting them with. We should also be well protected by law against any wrongdoing by bank officials . People work hard for their money and should be able to trust those who take on the responsibility of holding our bank accounts for us.

there are many rip offs in the UK now
all must stand and demand a FAIRER UK
if not YOU,WHOM?
the energy rip off is greed
the rail rip off is greed
the mean DWP run on greed
the lack of housing caused by greedy developers ignoring millions who cannot afford to buy a house
the greedy politicians denying folk payment for disabling pain
too many greedy selfish folk in power

Let us be fair now, how will the bankers ( should that be a W ?) be able to pay each other millions if they don’t rip us off?. Bentleys cost a lot of money and it’s got to come from somewhere, luxury homes and holidays don’t grow on trees you know and don’t forget that some of these TOP PEOPLE have to work two or three hours a month. So come on, give these HONEST CITIZENS a break. I have to go now, my carers are here, wibble wibble.

I was with the Bank of Scotland for over 40 years before leaving it in disgust to go to the Nationwide where I am most certainly happy with the services provided. The Bank of Scotland did not even ask why I was closing my account!

Helen says:
19 February 2016

If someone on a low income gets clobbered by fees for a very small oversight – how can they get out of a spiralling backlog of debt?- many people live from month to month on a very low income with literally nothing spare and it is so easy to fall into that cycle. Even worse when your bank unreasonably tells you you CAN’T have a small overdraft, so that it can penalise you massively if you are accidentally overdrawn as Santander did to me!

This is why it is important for people to keep track of what they spend so they avoid going overdrawn. If you are seen to be able to repay a temporary overdraft – bad timing of a payment for example but with a regular income that will deal with it – then I see no reason why a bank will not grant an appropriate level of overdraft to keep any costs down. My bank charges 50p a day if the overdraft exceeds £10. It forgoes charges on the first error if you have not arranged an overdraft.

I suggest finding a bank you regard as more reasonable (some mentioned in this convo), keep a record of income and payments, and talk to one of the decent banks if you feel you need an overdraft facility.

The banks are saying on sky news today that they are looking at better ways to keep us safe from scammers and hackers, to protect our hard earned cash. But who is there to protect us from the banker,s certainly not this government they are schemer,s in more way,s than we could imagine let us just ponder on that for now. Oh yes there is an osbourne budget just round the corner all motorist,s watch this space .