/ Money

We want to know how your bank could be better


How does your bank rate for customer service and quality of financial advice? If its services are leaving a little to be desired, speak up now and we’ll feed your thoughts back to the FSA.

Figures just released by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) show that banks received over 1.6m formal complaints from their customers in the first six months of this year.

That’s over 7,000 complaints every day! But given that everyone in the UK has a bank account, are these figures really that high or are banks actually doing an ok job?

Name and shame the bad banks

This is the first time the banks have had to reveal the total number of complaints made against them, and it’s something we’ve been campaigning for. We hope that by naming and shaming the worst offenders they’ll improve their service, while those banks with the least complaints will benefit.

So we’d be interested to know whether your bank is one of those at the top of the complaints list, and whether this changes your view of them. And are you one of those millions of people who have needed to make a complaint?

What’s most interesting about the figures is the nature of the complaints reported. Around 1.3 m complaints were due to poor customer service, poor financial advice or the mis-selling of financial products. These are all issues you raised with us at last year’s Big Banking Debate – and areas where we’re campaigning for change.

How could your bank be better?

We’ve heard from many of you about how levels of customer service have deteriorated and how banks only want to talk to you to when they’re trying to sell you something.

That’s why the Which? banking manifesto demanded that sales incentives and commissions for bank staff should be banned and that branch and call centre staff should be rewarded for providing good customer service.

We’ve called on the FSA to enforce this, so it was great to hear that they’ll be reviewing banks’ practices. We’re meeting with them to discuss this and will be putting forward the stories you’ve told us, including any comments made here on Which? Conversation.

So do you believe that sales incentives lead to poor customer service? Or are you happy with the customer service given by your bank? Tell us now and your thoughts could make it to the FSA.


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pickle says:
5 October 2010

My bank’s financial advice is poor – all they can offer are their products, and I can find better elsewhere.
Their call centre is a nightmare – press button, press button two….. and even then you get the wrong person. It is all so impersonal.
For normal straightforward banking it’s OK, but for anything else NO.


Higher Interest Rates!

Miranda says:
6 October 2010

Frankly, I’m not sure mine could. UK call centres, open 24*365.25, no “press N for whatever” systems, helpful when I have to deal with them by email from overseas… The One Account was good but I had to leave when I paid off my mortgage. But First Direct are simply the best.

Karen says:
6 October 2010

I’m happy to write that First Direct do make things very easy if you want telephone banking services. Friendly staff who can be heard and understood which I think is rare these days. Only problems I’ve had in the past is when I needed to make arrangements to use a counter service [withdraw cash to buy a car etc] as that needs a call transfer to a customer service person at HSBC which is clearly based overseas and our ability to communicate and be understood drops from 99% to around a mutually frustrating 20%.

Miranda says:
6 October 2010

Mind you, Santander (with whom I deal mainly on my mother’s behalf) have a fair bit of work to do. In Loughborough, their ex-Alliance and Leicester branch has (mostly) helpful staff; the ex-Abbey one, in my mother’s experience, does not. And trying to get them to display all of my accounts in one place is a long, and as yet unresolved, problem.

Louise Finlay says:
6 October 2010

I do all my personal banking online and get exccellent service. HOWEVER I am also the Treasurer of my school PTA and the service provided by the bank we have our “community/charity” account with is TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE! Access to an advisor via phone is good but I have been asking for online access for the last 6 months and despite being told by serveral different advisors that they’ve processed the request I have yet to receive access codes and pin numbers. I am now phoning them every two weeks to get this done and all I am told is, “Well, I don’t know what went wrong last time, I’ve put the request through the system now so you should have had the codes and pin numbers, etc. within 10 days.” And guess what – 10 days go by, no correspondence so another phone call, another advisor, and another “Well, I don’t know…..etc..”


My bank (NatWest) would be improved if the staff at all branches (and on the ‘phone) gave the same information as each other and offered the same level of service as their better branches. As it is the information given from different operators on different shifts and different dates at the call centres give conflicting advice, which sometimes cost me money. For example the staff dealing with the Credit Card section have told me three different versions of what date is the earliest each month I can make a payment without it being regarded as last months, 4 different versions of how soon they receive a “faster online payment” from my Nat West current account when done on line and 2 different versions of whether or not Bank Holidays are “working” days or not when online transactions are being made.
As for branch staff – the branch at which my account is held has diabolical customer service and the Manageress has been downright rude to me several times. By comparison the branch near to where I work, in a much less affluent area of the city, has charming staff who will do absolutely anything that they can to assist and to do things quickly and efficiently. A city Centre branch ranks somewhere between the two with a dirty office and a manageress who is arrogant and unhelpful but tellers who are really quite good.
I don’t understand why there cannot be a consistent level of service and I think it is diabolical that advice given is not consistent throughout the organisation, especially when the customers lose out by the discrepancies.
I used to bank with the Co-Op but left there a number of years ago when they set up a loan paid from my current account (both with them) and for a whole year they took the payments on the wrong date (it was the date they’d told me but NOT the one they’d put into their computer system) and therefore recorded it as late on both my load account and on my credit rating. I had to complain to Mervyn Pedalty, their then MD, and my MP to get the to refund the charges that they had added to the loan and to get them to correct the credit rating file. Recently I was in a Branch of the Co-Op and they tried to get me to open an account and were offhand in the extreme when I said that I’d had a poor experience with them before so I was reluctant to go back.


Just proof reading my comment above: I should have made it clear that apart from the lack of consistency in advice and the disappointing variation in levels of service between branches, NatWest are actually pretty good and I would recommend them over The Co-Op, HSBC (where my partner used to bank) and Barclays (where I used to carry out transactions for the national retailer for whom I used to work).

6 October 2010

Banks should be required to display the current rate of interest on a savings account alongside the other account details online rather than require customers to embark on obscure journeys through the bank’s site to find “no longer available” accounts (whilst remembering the exact issue number!).


Lloyd’s don’t give receipts as a matter of policy – when I handed over a cheque for £5000 and asked for a receipt I was refused – a senior manager said I need a paying “request” ( they do have to put you in your place) from a “paying in book” . As if people walk around with paying in books. Lloyds claim they can it reduces queuing – yet i can get a receipt from burger bar for a fiver and I have to queue a lot less than I do in a bank.

Ironically – I said “what happens if you make a mistake how can I prove it” – the manager said ” I will show in the screen the cheque has been paid into your account” it happened that in all the fuss they cheque had forgot to scan the cheque in — QED.

Unbelievably we are the new owners of the banks and they still treat us like this. Each tax payer has paid £40,000 each to bail them out -and we still pay them bonuses – bonuses for what exactly? If anybody wants to know how banking works, look at the wiki link below. The link will it tell you the principles of banking- how banks lend money they don’t have ( to people with collateral)- they create it form fresh air and can then charge interest on it. Banks can legally do this because they have a banking licence so it not fraud as such. Banks say it safe practice because they only lend this fictional money against collateral – for example a house so the bank can get this fictional money back at any time -so where is the problem?


At present because of “Factional reserve banking” (link above) the banks on average have lent 35x more money than they actually have ( or in Northern Rock’s case x150 just before it went bust). Can you imagine how much interest they are racking in when for every one pound deposited with the banks they command interest on £35 – this is literally a licence to make money – and note they are just selling fresh air. Some might say where is the harm ? Well the harm is all this funny money inflated asset prices like houses and then people could not afford to pay the funny money back – then falling price of the underwriting assets (USA not the UK – yet) meant the collateral no longer covered the price the loan – and that is why we had to rescue the bands.

Note how socially useful the above lending is – they don’t “make money” they sell us fresh air. You could not even say the increase in the house prices in the UK increased the number of new houses built per year– house starts decreased – what a wonderful system. The problem is not “capitalism” but “non capitalism” in this new “non capital” banking world as explained above.

And what does the government charge for a banking licence – a guinea – how quaint. Why the government doesn’t sell these banking licences to the highest bidder – like they did for Tv broadcasting licences or G3 phones licences – I have no idea – we could probably get rid of the government deficit for what banks would “willing” pay every ten years (say) for these banking licences. Note this idea would stop the tax increases and cuts – and decrease the ban bonus because the banks would have to pay a fair price for these licences. This would mean the banking would go abroad – shame – pity they did not go sooner each tax payer would be £40k richer.


Thanks to everyone for your comments so far. It is really interesting for us to see exactly how you feel about the levels of service that you receive from your bank, Your stories are exactly what we need so that we can take them to the FSA and say “This is what people are telling us”. Please keep them coming and let us know if you have complained to your bank. What did you complain about? How was it dealt with? And were you happy with the resolution?

brian killick says:
16 October 2010

hi.thanks for the easy way you provide this service.i do keep meaning to write to the ombudsman but never get round to it.my bank h.b.o.s to my mind are blatent thieves.their charges for using the overdraft they provide are ridiculous..a £1 A DAY even if i am only £1 into my overdraft.i don’t think even the worst loan shark would charge that.quite what %p/a it works out i dont know but like i say i think its theft.no doubt other people have said the same?trouble is nothing seems to be done.so the fat cat bankers keep getting their big bonuses,thanks for letting me complain.b.killick