The banks have had a hard time recently. They probably feel pretty unloved, so what are they doing about it? Not enough. And so RBS and NatWest have been fined for not dealing with customer complaints.
Millwall FC supporters chant: ‘No one likes us, we don’t care.’
Given RBS and its subsidiary NatWest have been fined £2.8 million by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for not dealing with customer complaints properly, these bank’s bosses must be Lions fans too.
No excuse for bad practice
There’s no excuse for some of the practices RBS and NatWest got up to, such as dragging their heels when faced with complaints, failing to investigate problems satisfactorily and giving customers inadequate explanations.
And we can drill down into the specifics: 62% of complaints made weren’t dealt with in time – the banks have 30 days – and customers weren’t told they could go to the Financial Ombudsman Service if they were still unhappy at this point.
Sure, the FSA said that RBS and NatWest’s behaviour hadn’t been ‘deliberate or reckless’, but as major players in the banking world (and part taxpayer-owned to boot) they owe it to their customers to take complaints seriously. These banks have been around for years, so there are no excuses for not following procedures properly.
The fine imposed on RBS and NatWest is more than justified, especially as the FSA warned the banks last year that it would be scrutinising their practices.
The FSA spelled it out by calling for ‘an end to bank letters that reject complaints but fail to explain that customers can challenge this and go to the Financial Ombudsman Service.’
Rather than comply, it seems RBS and NatWest have relied on its customers to put up with bad practice and drop the matter when they don’t get anywhere with complaints.
Vote with your feet
We’ll have to wait and see if the banks take note of this hefty slap on the wrist. But rather than wait another year before errant banks are called to task, perhaps it’s time to show bad banks the red card, and switch to a better provider?
If enough of us switch then they’ll have to take note, or risk losing more than £2.8 million.