Santander: Britain's most complained-about bankOver 200,000 complaints received in six months

02 September 2010

a man putting money into a piggy bank

Santander received 216,958 complaints in just six months, it was revealed today. These shocking figures - published on the bank's own website - show the Spanish-owned institution has been receiving a complaint every minute over the past half-year. 

Following its takeover of Abbey, Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley, Santander has seen a surge in customer dissatisfaction with its services. This is in line with Which?'s recent People's Choice survey, which saw the bank finish third from bottom with a customer satisfaction score of just 47%.

The 216,958 complaints concerned Santander's banking business between 1 January and 30 June 2010. Overall, there were eight complaints for every 1,000 accounts. This is not surprising given that Which? Members gave the bank a 47% rating for its current account services and 39% for its savings accounts. One member said: 'Try telephoning Santander. You cannot speak to a living creature.'

Barclays and Lloyds join Santander as worst banks for customer service

Just behind Santander in terms of customer grievances, Barclays received 195,956 complaints about its banking services in the first six months of this year. This correlates closely to the 54% customer satisfaction score the bank received in our People's Choice survey. Nevertheless, Barclays did uphold 32% of complaints.

Meanwhile, state-owned Lloyds Banking Group received the most complaints with 288,717, yet it had a lower complaints-to-accounts ratio than Barclays and Santander - unsurprising given its 31% share of the current account market. However, Lloyds has upheld just 12% of complaints over the past six months.

Another government-backed bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, fared much better. It has received just 24,100 complaints in the past six months, upholding 27% of them. RBS is taking steps to improve customer satisfaction, launching its Customer Charter in June in a bid to become Britain's 'most helpful bank.'

Co-operative offers quality customer service

On the other end of the scale, The Co-operative Bank was a paragon of virtue in comparison to some of its bigger rivals. It had a complaints-to-accounts ratio of 2.1 over six months, receiving just 23,647 complaints. It also received a high score of 74% on our People's Choice customer satisfaction survey. 

To find out how your bank or credit card provider scored in this year’s satisfaction survey, check out the Owners’ views pages of our savings accounts, current accounts and credit cards reviews.

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