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Banks CAN be better – now’s the time for transformation

Broken money bank

Are you satisfied with your bank or could it make changes to improve the service you get? We think banks have a lot of work to do, so we’re calling on the regulator to take action…

Most people’s day-to-day relationship with their bank centres around their current account. At least 94% of us have one, and if you’re like me, you’re still with the same bank you joined when you went to university.

Despite that free railcard offer running out over a decade ago, I’ve never bothered to switch – and I’m not alone. There’s been a small increase in people who are willing and able to use the seven day switching service, yet over 70% of accounts are still held by the four largest high street players.

Banks should compete better for our business

Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) agreed that the market wasn’t working well enough for consumers, and opened a major investigation. Today, we’re calling on the CMA to make sure it goes beyond fixing the basics and comes up with new solutions that will force banks to sit up and take action.

As our research has always indicated, solutions that make the costs of accounts clearer and more comparable should be a no-brainer. But these changes alone won’t be enough to transform things. That’s because so many people are unable or unwilling to switch regardless, meaning the banks have little incentive to change their ways.

Big banking changes we’d like from the CMA

We want to see reforms that will deliver genuinely better banking services for everyone. But what does this actually mean?

Well, what if the CMA considered increasing compensation levels for people who experience terrible customer service, or naming and shaming the worst providers? Or how about banks being required to proactively help customers who regularly slip into their unauthorised overdraft, rather than just hit them with high charges?

It’s clear that the CMA has a big job on its hands, but this is the perfect opportunity to propose remedies that would finally shake up this sector and make banks respond better to the needs of their customers.

What do you think the CMA should recommend to get banks to raise their game? How could things improve to make your everyday banking experiences better?

Comments
Member

I’m perfectly happy with my bank – whether through counter service, cashpoint or online banking. So I think this intro is a bit too sweeping.
As far as helping people “who regularly slip into unauthorised overdrafts” goes I have a view on this, as you might expect. Once or twice might be accidental, but “regularly” is deliberate. If you are credit worthy then set up an overdraft facility with your bank. If they refuse they’ll have good reason – maybe because they deem you a bad risk. Taking money that is not authorised is dishonest – it is not yours. I’d much rather Which? campaigned for people to treat their financial dealings responsibly than to encourage this underhand behaviour. But don’t berate the banks.

Member

I’m not unhappy with my bank – Santander, but they sometimes do crazy things. I had a letter from them in September about my 1-2-3 account. So far I make more money per month than they charge (£2) for having the account. But from January 11th 2016 they are going to increase that charge by 150%, blaming the rise on “changes in the banking industry”. So I will lose £3 more per month on the interest I earn on that account (£36 a year). But will I see my pension rise by 150% as a Christmas present this year? – I don’t think so! How can they justify raising costs by more than the cost of living? Banks? – they don’t deserve our custom!

Member

The state pension has been increased by amounts well above the rate of inflation for two years or more now, and a lot of other goods and services have come down in price or been frozen [e.g. the TV licence]. Santander’s monthly charges for the 1:2:3 account are so low that even a £3 monthly charge would have seemed like an outrageous [50%] increase. Obviously with a complex multi-layered account like this there will be changes over time to keep it in balance between the bank and the customer. Such changes mean that it might not remain the right choice for everyone, but it only requires a monthly feed of £500 and two direct debits, and pays 3% on balances up to £20,000 when there is at least £3,000 in the account. And there are various other beneficial aspects to the account as well, subject to circumstances. This is probably one of the best new accounts to have come out of the banking industry for ages and gives the lie to the CMA.

Member

I thought Richard LLoyd was rather condescending on the news saying Which? had tested people and only 1 in 10 knew which was the best account for them if they needed an unauthorised overdraft, and only 4 in 10 knew the best account for paying the best interest on a credit balance.

Oh dear, I am one of the 90% who don’t know where to get an unauthorised overdraft. Could that possibly be because I and probably quite a few others have no need of one?

Sounds a bit like a loaded questionnaire to give Which? the answers they wanted.

Member

Alfa, I don’t understand Which?’s seeming obsession that unauthorised overdrafts should be a test for an acceptable bank account. I think encouraging people to use money they are not entitled to is wrong. There are other ways Which? should be promoting to get people using their bank accounts properly.

Member

Malcolm – I’m very glad that overdraft facilities are provided. My bank once made a mistake and my account was debited twice for a mortgage payment for two months. Thanks to the overdraft, my other direct debits were paid and all I had to do was get the bank to correct the error and refund their overdraft charges.

Thankfully this was the only time that I have been overdrawn in my life, but others have accidents, illnesses and family crises that make money unimportant at the time. Overdraft facilities, preferably authorised, could be rather important.

Member

I think most, if not all, current accounts allow you to overshoot up to a pre-authorised limit and at reasonable interest rates. It’s unauthorised overdrafts that banks need to control, and that can seem punitive [but justified in my opinion].

Member

I think a little compassion is called for, John. If someone’s life is in crisis then I don’t think they deserve punitive interest charges if they have always managed their account well.

It’s better to have pre-arranged overdrafts but I think the banks should be discouraging customers from using them on a regular basis. Perhaps it would be better to interview those customers who don’t manage their money well.

Member

The problem with that approach, commendable as it is, is that it’s normally those without a history of managing their accounts well who frequently overdraw. The young are particularly at risk in that respect

Member

Ian – I strongly support moves to discourage people from living in debt. But in an emergency there are more important things than money to worry about, and I hate to see people being exploited by banks and other lenders.

Member

I got a letter from First Direct saying if I was having problems paying my credit card bill to contact them.

I hadn’t realised I had not received my monthly bill so it had not been paid. When I told them this they reimbursed the interest.

You can’t get much better than that.

Compassion is there but it can only go so far. The banks can’t be expected to keep on propping up those who can’t handle their finances.

Member

wavechange, we have small overdraft facilities on our current accounts just in case we need them Not used so far. But these have been agreed to by our bank and are easy to arrange – online or in branch. But this intro refers to “regular users of unauthorised overdrafts” – not for crises or odd forgetfulness but as a routine. Not a legitimate way to use your bank, and expensive in fees. They could, if responsible, seek help to put their financial affairs in order; maybe start by asking their bank who might, for example, help with rescheduling direct debits. Better than finding your card declined, a cheque returned or penalty fees on your statement.

Member

I have an arranged overdraft facility too, Malcolm. I suspect they are standard these days. It would not have been enough to cover the mistake made by my bank.

Richard wrote: “… banks being required to proactively help customers who regularly slip into their unauthorised overdraft, rather than just hit them with high charges” I strongly support this.

Member

In view of Wavechange’s comments about the need for a compassionate approach, which I do agree with in appropriate circumstances , I think we need to get back to a time when the customers and their bank knew each other, and could have confidence in each other, and when customers faced with a temporary financial difficulty would get a considerate and caring response from their bank. One should be able to have a decent conversation, in a private space, with an intelligent banking professional, where you tell them what has happened and how much you need, and they make sensible and affordable arrangements to tide you over, including looking at other funds and outgoings that can play a part in the solution and having some discretion over the duration and interest rate of any advance so that credit can be given for loyalty and good conduct of the account.

The collapse of decent customer relations is the big thing that certainly does need fixing so that we wouldn’t need to spend our Saturday mornings splitting hairs over what sort of overdraft is or isn’t satisfactory. Personal banking has been reduced to a series of tick boxes and we need to get away from that and restore confidence and trust.

Member

John, i doubt any would disagree with helping those temporarily in need for understandable reasons. Our bank has a “private area” and staff to talk to if needed. What we should not do is expect banks to be charities using our money to fund those who regularly abuse their account – and, of course, may not be in a position to pay back. Which? could do well to show such customers how to put their financial affairs on a proper basis.

Member

John – Loyalty to customers who have managed their accounts properly is what I would like to see. I would expect banks to identify customers who seem to be having problems and invite them to come and discuss what has gone wrong. They might find out that dad has had a heart attack or one of the kids has had a serious accident, and that keeping track of money has had to take a back seat. A more serious problem is that the customer is suffering severe depression and is not fit to manage their finances. The banks need to explore the problem. Maybe they already do this.

Member

I have to agree with Malcolm and Alfa. I have no quibbles with my bank but then I am in the 30% who do not bank with one of the big four high street banks. I have been with Nationwide for over thirty years and it provides a satisfactory service via every channel. However, from talking to others, I do not get the impression that the major high street banks, and the other building societies that provide current accounts, are significantly different. No one we know has a problem with their bank that is not mostly of their own making.

I do not believe customer service is routinely poor enough to “name and shame” any of the major banks. And which banks are so uniformly bad that they qualify for nomination as the “worst providers”? Whenever I have used a different bank I have found the service perfectly acceptable. What is this “terrible customer service” Richard Piggin refers to? Is it worse than the service provided by other major organisations like transport operators, airlines, local authorities, insurance companies?

Once in a while there is an IT failure that causes temporary inconvenience but it seems to happen to every big organisation eventually. With banks, at least they make good any losses due to the malfunction. If the banks were not offering so many useful services I suppose there would be fewer complaints and they would get better marks from the CMA.

It’s so easy to take a pop at the banks but their high street retail operations are generally run well and there’s not much to choose between them. The staff are generally polite and pleasant and are well-trained. Their premises are clean, smart and respectable. Money is available round the clock via ATM’s. Credits and debits end up in the right place with a reliability that would astonish any other industry.

As for “proactively helping customers who regularly slip into their unauthorised overdraft, rather than just hit them with high charges”, what should they do? Close their accounts? The best way to help people who break the rules is to make them pay for it, otherwise it impacts on other customers. Charge less for overdrafts? The chances are that overdrawing as a regular practice would increase rather than decrease. Banks make equitable facilities available for authorised overdrafts and also for personal loans. The terms are probably fairly standard across the personal banking sector and there are leaflets in every branch to help people manage their account. Yes, believe it or not, it is the customer’s responsibility to manage their account – not their bank’s. When opening a bank account every customer is under an obligation to act responsibly, ensure that they live within their means, and use the bank’s services in accordance with the terms and conditions. It looks to me as though the CMA has had to scrape around to find a couple of irritations whereas in reality there are probably not that many things that could be improved to make our “everyday banking experiences better” that would not be adverse to customers interests and lead to even higher charges and the end of free current accounts.

As regards Santander and the alteration to the terms of their 1:2:3 account, at least they have given plenty of advance warning of the change. It’s a commercial decision which presumably they have had to take as the popularity of the account made it unviable under it’s present structure. There was always that risk with packaged accounts, that one day the deal would have to rebalanced back in the provider’s favour. But no one need suffer any loss – free banking accounts are still available and switching is free as well. The 1:2:3 account will be fairly unattractive after 10 January and it will be interesting to see how many customers stay with it while in negative territory. I suppose Santander will be expected to take every one of those customers aside and either help them to make the account work better for them or to move to a different product.

Apart from the foregoing, I was also slightly irked by the sweeping generalisation that everybody went to university and opened a bank account. It’s a regular beef of mine that Which? people seem to think the whole country behaves like them. Half the population never went near a university [unless they were laying the bricks] and yet have had to pay,through their taxes, for university education for the other 50% and I have to wonder whether they are getting the right returns on their investment – which might be the bigger scandal than how the banks are treating people who, without asking, take more money out than they have got.

Member

If I could be permitted to broaden the debate somewhat, this lead article is another example of how Which? is moving towards campaigning to the detriment of what used to be its core business – testing.

Which? no longer does any of its own testing, instead preferring to outsource the business to ‘independent’ labs. Personally I was much happier when Which? themselves did their own testing, because then I knew what I was paying for, but now Which? won’t even tell us which labs do the testing. Some members are starting to complain (rightly so, in my experience) that Which?’s ratings are becoming unreliable, no account is being taken of long-term reliability and frequently the quality of ‘Best Buys’ is far from what we used to be able to expect from a Which? Best Buy. Additionally, whereas Which? used to run their scheme for recommending traders completely free now Traders have to pay a substantial premium to display the Which? Recommended badge, and that despite mounds of academically-generated evidence that making recommendations which are fiscally-dependent not only leads to a dilution of the award’s perceived merit, but can also create an unhealthy association between the awarder and awardee.

The article talks about how things should change to make the banks better but I would question if it ought not to be Which? – currently dealing with a £10m loss after writing off the Indian venture, not doing its own testing, charging those to whom it awards a Which? recommended provider, paying £1m bonuses to some of its executives, refusing to name the ‘independent labs’ who now do all its testing, failing to deal with long-term reliability of products and recommending products as Best Buys which users consistently find undeserving of that accolade – that should be the organisation in need of improvement. I know I, for one, would feel a much greater degree of confidence in Which? if it were to devote more of its energies to product testing and less to campaigns.

Member

I agree with malcolm r. I read the article in the Telegraph and thought Which?’s approach is wrong-headed, even though it might strike a chord with today’s busy-schedulers with no attention span. In these days of instant on-demand access to anything and everything via their precious SmartPhone, it’s bonkers to figure that a primary solution is for the bank to tell their customers when they are mismanaging their money. Far better to educate the customer to take some responsibility for their own affairs – these days it’s easy enough for goodness sake. Telling customers they are approaching their authorised overdraft limit is a nice touch, but to regard that as a touchstone of good service is risible and frankly infantile.

And, by the way, I don’t know what the best deal is on unauthorised overdrafts. Why? Because I have managed without EVER going unauthorised – EVER in 60 years of having a bank account – so unauthorised rates are irrelevant. Somewhat more relevant are authorised overdraft arrangements, which I have used once in a blue moon, consciously and for some specific reason.

Member

Well said JW.

I too wonder what is so terrible about banks that there is a need to name and shame the worst providers.

Banks have come a long way to helping their customers since Barclays charged £25 for going £1 overdrawn which was a big incentive to stay in the black.

I have been with First Direct for 26 years and am more or less a very happy customer.

They used to give interest on current accounts but (and they didn’t ask me), they switched interest to unauthorised overdrafts because that is what their customers wanted. I would much rather they gave customers the choice of an interest account or an overdraft account. I have never gone into overdraft with them and now don’t keep much money in my current account.

My only other beef with them is with a credit card that I keep for internet purchases. I purposely kept the credit limit low, it started at £200, and there was supposed to be a note on my account that I could temporarily up the limit if I needed to. They kept putting the limit up and I kept reducing it again. The last time I asked for an increase of £100, I was given a very degrading and humiliating grilling on my ability to pay even though there was a substantial amount in my current account at the time. The credit limit is now in thousands, and if the card gets misused, First Direct will pick up the bill as the card is guaranteed against internet fraud.

Other than those 2 things, they have provided excellent customer service, and are available 24 hours a day.

My grievance with banks, building societies and other companies come to that is the ease they seem to be able to take over each other – part of my thinking behind my convo suggestion “Do Companies Hide Behind Brands”.

When they take each other over, jobs are lost and there is less competition. You might leave one company only to find you are with them again not your choice. From January, your savings are only protected up to £75,000. If you have more than the limit and want to place your savings in a different institution, you should not have to check whose umbrella they are under. I believe if a bank or building society is taken over, it is either renamed to its new parent, or it is run as a completely separate company with all the benefits it entails like the protection for up to £75,000 and staff would then keep their jobs.

Member

My last paragraph seems to have truncated although it is still there in edit mode so I shall repost it here:

When they take each other over, jobs are lost and there is less competition. You might leave one company only to find you are with them again not your choice. From January, your savings are only protected up to £75,000. If you have more than the limit and want to place your savings in a different institution, you should not have to check whose umbrella they are under. I believe if a bank or building society is taken over, it is either renamed to its new parent, or it is run as a completely separate company with all the benefits it entails like the protection for up to £75,000 and staff would then keep their jobs.

And now the previous last paragraph has reappeared and this one truncated. Not sure what is going on !!!!

And now they are both back again.

Member

Hi Alfa – I think this is a browser problem. All your examples work fine on Safari on my Mac and so the the one I checked on Firefox.

Member

Thanks for checking Wavechange.

I have had the odd item missing that always seemed to be in the same place but it seemed to be getting worse.

I had assumed it was teething problems but hopefully Patrick will shed some light on it in the other convo.
So back to topic.

Member

A number of contributors seem to be quite happy with their banks. I wonder therefore for straightforward current accounts just what the problems are that Which? wants addressed (that many don’t seem to have).
Unauthorised overdrafts is one topic that Which? has reported on before. It’s stance seemed to be that they are a legitimate way for us to use our bank accounts, and rates banks on how well they charged for them. This is contentious. I find this an irresponsible approach. If you are creditworthy you can arrange an overdraft facility with your bank. If your bank refuses then it may well believe you are not creditworthy (i.e. they don’t want to lend you money), perhaps because they judge you not capable of repaying. Therefore spending more than you have is both irresponsible, and dishonest to your bank. The key here though is Richards use of “regular users of unauthorised overdrafts”. They will generally know what they are doing and cannot complain at the financial penalties the banks make. Which? should not be condoning that use of an account.
I have, of course, total agreement that someone in crisis, or who makes a payment error of some kind – but as a one off -should expect assistance from the bank if they are otherwise a responsible account holder. “Loyalty” if you like.

Member

Given I have worked for three UK major banks and we have banked with four different banks I am disappointed with Which? I have spent years talking and sorting out peoples accounts and borrowing habits, and been on the other side of the fence also. DO I see an insiders approach here? Should that insight be sought?

Banks can and are poor in many respects however they are not a social service and cannot be expected to act like they are. The idea there exists a Bank with a kindly culture to its customers should be dispensed with. Bank systems are now designed to do away with pretty much any human kindness or free-thought which existed pre-1995.

Having established that you need to play a game to establish what level of credit and service you can obtain. This is actually a very serious matter and if you decide you do not have to play by the rules of the game then you will find it an expensive future.

Many many people learn to live without credit so let us agree it is possible. Banks like you to borrow so you will almost certainly be given credit facilities. If you only use them very lightly any emergency may be manageable. If you have maxxed out your cards limit they may really love to increase your limit provided that you have been paying regularly.

If you think of banks as leeches eager to start sucking your blood and spending large sums to flash be fore your eyes all those wonderful treats and fun you can have by taking credit – then you are getting the right attitude. : {

Unfortunately there is a significant percentage of the population who lack the mental faculties or the willpower to avoid getting into trouble – and thanks for that to Which? and their paid for surveys company for the insight!.

For these people the safest approach is that they only deal in cash. Seriously.

Member

dieseltaylor, i agree that people need to understand what they are doing, and some need help in doing that. It is a facility banks should provide; you need a branch with people to do that.
All i can say from my experience with those I have banked with over the years is that I have had no problems, no leeches sucked my blood, no one misled me, and I was helped when choosing accounts to a sensible decision. But maybe my affairs are relatively simple.

Member

Like Richard, I’ve been with the same bank since I went to university. In my case it has been about 45 years. That was in the days before there were incentives for students to sign up, though I recall that as a student I had the questionable privilege of an arty coloured cheque book, though I specified standard utilitarian cheque books in future. I chose my bank simply because it was convenient to make withdrawals.

I visit my present branch about once a month or two to pay in a few cheques. Usually I just post them through the letterbox in the evening rather than waiting at the counter when the bank is in the evening.

I’m sure there are better banks but I’m quite happy to stay with mine for the time being. What might encourage me to switch is closure of my local branch. Branch closures are happening quite frequently.

Member

I am very happy with my Reward Account at Halifax. They pay me £5 a month as long as I don’t get into the red for more than 24 hours and pay in at least £750 a month. The only thing I have to watch is that when my main pension is paid in early I just have to switch some out and then back in. I get text warnings when my balance falls below £50 so normally avoid getting overdrawn, but even if I do it is only £3 a day. I don’t expect to get interest on a current account, and am ignoring Halifax’s offer to ‘upgrade’ to an account that would cost me £15 a month and give me all sorts of ‘benefits’ I don’t want.

Member
Member

Banks must appreciate that there loads who do not have and know how to work on computers!! also even the machines they have within the banks; some can’t even use the cash machines. It may take 2 more generations 40-50 years at list and then more unemployment!!! And that hoping that every human will have at list a laptop at home.
For now we suffer for the luck of human staff in the local branch……

Member
Big Al says:
28 January 2016

The large banks need to be broken up. There will not be any meaningful competition unless this happens. RBS should not only spin off Williams & Glyn’s, but the District and County Banks also, each with a few hundred branches, mainly in the North. Barclays should likewise shed Martins, and Lloyds the Halifax and West Riding Union banks, also essentially Northern businesses. We would then have a decent choice up here; the Southern elite would also be given a sprinkling of branches of these revived institutions to which they could transfer their allegiance, or they could do so online, benefiting everyone by vastly greater choice.

Contrary to the above comment, retail banks are a social service: that is the essence of their business, and the sooner this is realized and modifications to the institutions to provide locally-based decision making and a more personal service the better. Call centres are OK for dealing with simple transaction instructions but for anything more complex you should be calling the people who know you at the branch which holds your account.

Oh, and while it maybe fine to allow foreign banks to own some or all of ours, this should be subject to a ring-fence arrangement and statutory guarantee of fully independent management.

Member

I have just received a request from Which? about “Your views on banking”. It lists 3 specific “bugbears” and another “something different” (bugbear). I am perfectly happy with my bank, but there is no specific opportunity here to say so. Therefore the “survey” will seemingly only generate negative comments, and not look at the proportion of satisfied to dissatisfied customers.

The survey includes a suggestion that banks overcharge for unauthorised overdrafts. Clients have the opportunity to get an authorised overdraft, if they are credit worthy, and certainly in the case of my bank we are clearly informed of the costs of using an unauthorised one. I regard continual use of unauthorised overdrafts – using money the bank has not agreed to, and may well not agree to – as a less-than-honest practice by the customer. They should not complain if they know the penalties the deliberate use of this tactic will incur.

Not a good approach to a survey in my view, I’m afraid, Which? but I am willing to accept I may have missed the point of the survey, or the logic behind it.

Member
Craig says:
28 January 2016

Criminal records and prison sentences for bank personal when they are caught defrauding or stealing from their clients, huge fines for banks and their personel for incompetence that leads to clients losing money.

Member

The problem with the Banking industry is quite simply fraud because of its associated cost (to us), how it is an easy crime and the monies that are written off to it. Example headlines…

“spree that cost companies more than $300 million”
“British financial services firms lost a total of 5.4 billion pounds”
“Fraud cost retail banks 475 million”

Statements like this are incorrect as fraud doesn’t ultimately cost companies, financial services firms or retail banks anything.

Banks have dealt with fraud for many, many decades, forget the Internet. Fraud existed back in the days of credit card machines with carbon paper forms. The technology of fraud gets better each year. Fraud remains consistent. From a banking perspective, the cost to obey government regulations dwarfs the cost of any individual case of fraud. Don’t be fooled that the Banks are meeting these costs – it is us as consumers that ultimately pays for them (and through the nose), every time. And the Bankers still find the excess to award themselves million pound bonuses. So from a banking perspective, fraud has never qualified as a major threat. A banker looks at his balance sheets and writes off fraud as simply a cost of doing business. Such fraud may amount to billions of pounds each year, but the cost is spread across all sectors of the banking industry and ultimately indirectly to us (that’s you & me) as paying customers all over the world.

Banks must be possessed of some gene, the like of which is only seen in those of a self-destructive disposition. How else to explain the mealy-mouthed behaviour of not awarding compensation to victims of PPI miss-selling, because they would have bought a cheaper policy elsewhere instead? No matter that the victim – sorry, client – did not want PPI in the first place, & was persuaded to sign on the dotted line by the sales force. Sadly, it’s all too typical of the contempt that passes for customer service inside our banks. What’s sad about this is that even now, years after the crash, when their greed almost brought down the entire economic system, the banks still don’t get it.

It’s also almost impossible to make a complaint about a financial institution that ‘sticks’, because the procedure is fragmented, there is no common goal amongst the vast number of regulatory organisations to make sure issues raised are either passed to the relevant body or seen through to conclusion. There is no overall empathy to customers within these regulatory organisations other than to their own goals/targets. Complaints are often fobbed off as not meeting the remit of the complaining body’s mandate. ‘Not our issue’, to coin a phrase.

Banks are currently experiencing high volumes of customer contact driven largely by recent legislative changes, the complexity and nature of queries has also put increased pressure on their operational areas such that it has resulted in an increase in servicing volumes and response times. Because they are now more committed to remedying the compensation fiascos they are also now having to reinvest in recruiting and more training to get it better.

The Banks themselves: Employees are worried about their jobs, employees will systematically lie, spouting the corporate spiel (even blatantly lie) to do whatever it takes, knowing you have a valid issue but ignoring it, obfuscating the issue for the sake of their job.

Financial Ombudsman – deal with individual customer losses, so if your loss is small and effects a large number of customers, they have no remit other than to refund the amount you lost – for me it was small but effected ALL customers, so overall the amount was huge.

Advertising complaints to Advertising Standards regarding banks are seen as ‘private communications’ between the bank and customers. They aren’t interested regarding a Visa Electron Card being advertised as something it wasn’t.

Card Payment Services – Offices in London have no contact with the public, you have to leave an answerphone message – the call is rarely returned.

Consumer Direct – a complete waste of space -monotone call centre staff which basically puts your complaint into a database, and large numbers of similar complaints supposedly are ‘flagged’, only to be asked to complete a questionnaire on service received from CD at the end of the call – I’ve enough to do complaining without more stuff to distract me.

Moneysavingexpert.com forums do this for free (albeit through advertising) – and appears quicker, and far more effective – at getting a blatant dishonest acts by a Bank – ‘out there’ in the public eye.
There aren’t any other organisation consumers can trust (operating on this scale), as ‘independent’, grass roots based system – the forums are unmoderated -long may it continue, it’s about as ‘genuine’ as it can get at the moment.

The trouble is the guns are turning in the direction of moneysavingexpert.com by big business. Financial tips websites like Martin Lewis’s Moneysavingexpert.com are attracting a “biblical” following.

So be wary of responses in the forums that nudge you in directions other than your basic beliefs or try to placate you, big business is getting savvy to consumer’s alternative methods of complaint. Is Free banking really now a dangerous Myth? Surely Banks have the ONLY industry where RAW money just comes in at their front door. Beats me how businesses have to bust their guts to sell stock, service, manufacture, ship, design, provide solutions or even borrow money to invest BEFORE they can eventually get any cash generated as profit. Surely all banks have to do is open their front door & wait for someone to put the money into their hand. Do they even have to borrow the stuff like a lot of businesses try to?