A fifth of current account complaints not dealt with satisfactorily, say customers

The first Which? survey into banking complaints reveals that a fifth (22%) of complaints about current accounts were not dealt with satisfactorily by banks, according to their customers. 

Two-thirds (66%) of customers with current account problems complained to their bank, with three in ten (29%) of them having to make their complaint more than once before it was resolved. However, half of complaints were resolved on same day or the day after the bank received the initial contact; these complaints do not have to be reported to the Financial Conduct Authority and so do not appear in official statistics.

Our survey finds that around 26% of UK bank customers, equivalent to 12 million people, have had problems with their current account. Bank of Scotland, Barclays and Co-operative Bank had the highest proportion of complaints, while First Direct and Nationwide had the least.

Of those who didn’t complain, nearly one in five (19%) said they didn’t think their bank could solve their problem and a quarter (24%) didn’t want to call an expensive phone number.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said:

“There’s been a lot to complain about in banking over the last few years and to win back our trust they must sort out their complaints handling. When things go wrong it is critical that banks act swiftly and fairly to deal with the problem, identify what caused it and make sure it’s not repeated.

“The way that a bank deals with complaints says a lot about the culture of the organisation. Some banks are getting this right but they all need to do more to put their customers first.”

Notes to editors:

1. Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed 2,029 UK adults online between 22nd and 24th February 2013. The data were weighted to be demographically representative ofUK adults and respondents were screened to ensure they held a current account. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

2. We looked at current account problems and complaints made to the following 12 banks and building societies: Lloyds TSB, Co-operative Bank, Bank of Scotland, RBS, Barclays,Santander,Halifax, NatWest, HSBC,Yorkshire Bank, Nationwide, First Direct.

3. Banks with the highest proportion of customers by problem:

4. Proportion of customers with problems in last 12 months:

5. There were 323,000 complaints about current accounts reported to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the first half of 2012, and 2.76 million complaints about all banks and building societies (all products) in the first half of 2012. (FCA data – complaints still outstanding at the close of the next business day). Latest FCA complaints data is expected to be published shortly.

6. The Financial Ombudsman received 173,000 complaints about banks in 2011/12 and upheld 70% of them (including PPI).

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