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It’s time to ‘unfriend’ our credit card providers

People holding up credit cards

In a competitive credit market with plenty of good deals around, card companies rely on customer loyalty to keep profits healthy. But when things go wrong, why aren’t they there to help you with the right advice?

Unfortunately, our new research suggests that your card provider may not be as good a friend as you might have hoped.

Your real friends will do everything they can to help, offering useful advice and shouldering the burden with you. Your fair-weather friends, meanwhile, will be long gone. In fact, they’ve probably run off with your boyfriend or girlfriend already. The same is true of your bank or credit card provider (ok, possibly not the boyfriend bit).

Credit card providers give poor advice

A new investigation by our undercover researchers at Which? has revealed that bank staff routinely give poor or misleading advice when you most need their help.

Our researchers called the 12 biggest credit card providers to ask for advice on behalf of a friend or relative about making a claim for goods bought or ordered using a credit card.

In a shocking 71 out of 120 calls, credit card companies failed to give researchers useful and correct advice about making a claim. Tesco and Nationwide didn’t pass our test in any of the 10 calls we made. RBS, Santander and HSBC passed just once.

Rather than offer us proper help themselves, several card companies pointed us elsewhere. Lloyds TSB, for example, told one caller to contact the Ministry of Justice, while NatWest suggested pursuing the claim for an undelivered sofa through ATOL, the insurance scheme that covers airline failure!

Card providers aren’t there for you

I don’t want my credit card provider to only want to be friends while I’m buying rounds down the pub and flashing the plastic. I want it to live up to its responsibilities when things go wrong too.

Luckily you can complain about your credit card provider, firstly to the company itself, and secondly to the Financial Ombudsman Service. Then it’s time to ‘unfriend’ them. Not by blocking them on Facebook, but by switching to a better provider and encouraging your true friends to do the same.

Comments
Member

This I don’t understand

I bank with First Direct and use their credit card – I always pay it off at the end of the month. Now I have had two items – that each cost over £100 – that were substandard and I needed a refund for as the companies refused to refund. – First Direct paid up after all information and proof of purchase were supplied. In addition I had a £350 debit for an item I did not purchase – All I had to do was to inform them and my credit was reimbursed. All three cases dealt with exactly as the terms and conditions states.

Are you saying some credit cards do not honour their agreement??

Member

Hi Richard,

We were testing how well bank telephone staff advised someone asking for advice on putting in a claim, rather than how they processed a written claim itself. The advice given was very frequently incorrect and/or unhelpful – my biggest fear is that incorrect information given at the enquiry stage would put someone off from putting in a claim at all!

That said, the number of complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service relating to credit cards is significant, suggesting that some banks aren’t treating s75 and chargeback claims fairly, even at the claims stage. This was outside the scope of this report though.

We didn’t test First Direct as it is not one of the largest 12 credit card providers. However, it routinely comes top of our customer satisfaction survey. It’s great to see they’ve offered you great service – it just shows that it can be done if banks have the right attitude at an organisational level.