/ Money

RBS and Natwest have nothing to complain about

Banker caught in mouse trap

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.

Justified penalty

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.

Katie says:
13 January 2011

Many years ago, when the wages of hard working people HAD to get paid into the bank, must have been the happiest day in the life of any banker ( I use the word as losely as possible)…since then they have extorted money in every which way possible, the UK is treasure island, the big banks wont leave cos there are not many ‘treasure islands’ left in the world. go ahead FSA fine them and name and shame the ‘big hitters’.

Hector Macduff says:
22 January 2011

I have had an account with the same branch of RBS for nearly 50 yeras and have always been happy with the service.

George Tennie says:
20 February 2011

As with Mr. McDuff I have been with RBS since it was the National Commercial many many years, and as soon as I sell my business I will never darken their doorstep again. I am becoming an angry old man (very angry) as I reach retirement and I cannot abide bad and shoddy service. It is not just the banks these days but I,m sorry to say RBS is amonst the worst. And no one cares!!!!

Madge Robertson says:
22 February 2012

I have had an RBS account for 30 years – all my children’s accounts are there and never had a problem until last year. Their error allowed an erroneous POS payment (to their sister company, surprisingly) out of an account which was practically dormant apart from a business loan going into and being deducted out of every month. 8 months later, I went into my branch and requested a printout as nothing had been received since the advisor had “closed” the account and assured me nothing more (apart from loan) would be removed. I assumed, as no statements rcvd, I had gone onto a yearly statement due to very little activity. Turns out, RBS had not changed my address after 4 requests 8 months earlier (one telephone call, another request with advisor in meeting, another by telephone and the last in writing hand-delivered through their door). Erroneous payment was allowed to leave plunging business current into deficit and the RBS merrily charging interest and bank charges onto the account for months – unbeknown to me. I have now complained to the Ombudsman about the (non) handling of this matter. Total and utter uncompetence from the RBS/NATWEST team involved (both verbally and in writing!) This episode has resulted in me having a breakdown, I am on medication for the breakdown, sleeping pills, my house is being sold to pay my father back the money he lent me to pay in full the business loan (which they demanded full payment of within 2 weeks – this was their initial response to my complaint!!) which I had NEVER defaulted on. This has, quite clearly, ruined me mentally and physically. The payment I made to pay off the loan was provided verbally, I was promised a full breakdown of how the figure was reached – that was 4 months ago, I am still waiting for it and they are now refusing to supply it! I wouldn’t go into Tescos or similar, pay for my groceries and not get an itemised receipt!!!!! I have not even received a statement showing the large payment made and the account being at £0, again, this is being refused. The Ombudsman has stated that he is appalled by their behaviour but has not finalised this matter as yet. As soon as this is finished, I will be removing my accounts from RBS, my children are in the process of moving now and my father is removing his company accounts (turnover of £5m per year), all my friends and colleagues are also appalled and some have moved already from RBS. This is a disgrace and, I feel, tantamount to criminal behaviour ( refusing to provide me with written proof of the large payment I was forced to make). I would never recommend being with this bank EVER – there seems to be total incompetence and non-understanding of their own procedures by their staff!!!!

john says:
12 March 2014

yes RBS are the worst spent over 2 hours on the telephone over 2 days talking to illiterate customer service staff the worst bank ever and now have closed my RBS account down please follow suit and do like I do take your business elsewhere RBS are the worst ever offer no real compensation and frankly I find them highly vile in there methods despicable organisation please use another bank I can guarantee you will definitely regret it trust a horrible exp from them