Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Campaigns | Better banks

Hero   better banks media image 430130

Bank staff letting customers down with poor advice

Our latest undercover investigation has found that bank staff have shockingly poor knowledge of how Isas work.

Despite our calls for banks to improve their standards of service, for a second year in a row we’ve found that their staff’s knowledge is extremely poor.

Going undercover

Posing as customers, we visited six branches and made six phone calls to 12 Isa providers, and asked them six straightforward questions about Isas and the savings reforms. Over half of the providers we tested got fewer than half of the questions correct.

Eight in ten staff couldn’t even tell us what the 2016/2017 Isa limit is (it’s £15,240 in case you wondered). One bank even suggested we use the internet to find the answers to our questions!

Our executive director Richard Lloyd said:

‘Bank staff are letting customers down with shockingly poor knowledge on how Isas work. There’s really no excuse for this, especially when it could be leaving people out of pocket.

‘Disappointingly we’ve seen very little improvement on last year’s scores, which shows banks still need to do much more to up their game to ensure they have the right information and systems in place that consumers can rely on.’

Better everyday banking

Our campaign is calling on the Government, regulator and banks to deliver better everyday banking. We want the knowledge and expertise of staff to be recognised as a key measurement of banks’ customer service, which would help you choose the right bank for you. This undercover investigation clearly demonstrates the importance of this.

If you back our calls for change in the banking industry, them please join more than 40,000 others in signing our petition.


Big banks respond to our campaign

Two of the big banks have come out in support of our Better Banks campaign, which calls on the industry to deliver better everyday banking for their customers.

Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest

Les Matheson, CEO of Personal and Business Banking at RBS and NatWest, said:

'We agree that Britain needs better banks and that is why over the last few years we've been challenging the industry to help our customers out, not catch them out and we're proud of how we're making banking simpler and fairer for our customers.

'Our new Reward current accounts are market-leading and the overwhelming feedback we've had from our customers is that they give them help where it matters most by rewarding them 3% back on a range of household bills. We've scrapped unfair teaser rates, we offer our best deals to both new and existing customers and our staff are no longer incentivised to sell, meaning they can fully focus on the needs of our customers.

'We offer innovative ways to bank, such as Apple Pay and an award-winning app which allow customers to buy things using their phone and get cash from an ATM using their watch. All of which resulted in us being voted No. 1 for NPS for mobile banking. We've also seen the number of complaints we receive reduce by 14% for NatWest, and 11% for RBS.

RBS came bottom in our latest banking customer satisfaction survey, with Natwest also in the bottom ten. In response to this, Les Matheson said:

'Whilst we are disappointed in these results, we are determined to do more and we are working with Which? to support their campaign, including raising awareness and education of products - not just for our customers, but across the banking industry.'


Nationwide has also come out in support of our campaign to improve levels of customer service in banking.

Terry Kaye, Divisional Director for Customer Experience at Nationwide Building Society, said:

'As a mutual, Nationwide is owned by and run for the benefit of its members meaning they are at the heart of what we do. The Society already has the highest customer satisfaction scores amongst its banking peers, but we aren’t complacent and are always striving to further improve the level of service offered to our customers.

'Most recently we have launched an initiative called Customer First, which further empowers our staff to offer the highest level of service possible. Customer First is about ensuring we do the right thing for our customers right across the organisation, whether that be in their dealings with front line staff or decisions being made within the business. Our view is that if our staff feel empowered, they will want to do the best they can for our customers.'


Join our call for better banks

13th February
8th September 08 Sep

Seven day deadline to switch bank accounts


Bank staff reveal the stark reality

We’ve released our survey results of more than 500 front-line bank staff, revealing that pressure to sell still pervades the culture in the big five banks.
Take action

Sign our petition to deliver better banking

petition signatures
Help us reach 100,000

Recent Supporters

  • Ross about 18 hours ago
  • Linda 1 day ago
  • Charles 2 days ago
  • Alex 2 days ago
  • Sue 3 days ago