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Banks’ complaints handling lets customers down

22% of current account complaints not handled satisfactorily

Current account complaints

A fifth of current account complaints are not dealt with satisfactorily by banks, according to a Which? investigation into banking problems.

The first ever Which? survey into banking complaints has revealed which banks customers have the most problems with and how good the banking industry is at dealing with complaints.

A quarter experience current account problems

Our survey found that around 26% of UK bank customers, equivalent to 12 million people, have had problems with their current account in the last 12 months. Lloyds TSB customers, along with Co-operative Bank and Bank of Scotland customers, had the highest proportion of customers who had experienced problems.

Poor customer service was the most common problem overall, followed by banks trying to sell inappropriate products and difficulty getting through to someone. 

Which banks’ customers have most problems?

Some banks’ customers are better off when it comes to likelihood of having problems – First Direct and Nationwide customers reported the fewest problems in our survey (9% and 12% respectively). 

Richard Lloyd commented ‘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’. 

Proportion of customers with problems in last 12 monthsa
Bank Customers with problems
Lloyds TSB 30%
Co-operative Bank 29%
Bank of Scotland 29%
RBS 28%
Barclays 27%
Santander 27%
Halifax 27%
NatWest 26%
HSBC 22%
Yorkshire Bank 19%
Nationwide 12%
First Direct 9%

Table notes

  1. Based on online interviews of 2,029 UK adults by Populus, carried out on behalf of Which?, between 22nd and 24th February 2013. The data were weighted to be demographically representative of UK adults and respondents were screened to ensure they held a current account.

Repeated banking complaints

Of those who had experienced problems, two thirds (66%) of customers have made complaints about their current  accounts. Of these, three in ten (29%) had to make repeated complaints to resolve the issue. 

We found people were most likely to complain about problems with a clear financial impact – such as statement mistakes or difficulty getting money back after fraud. People were less likely to complain about difficulty getting through to someone or poor customer service.

Of customers who hadn’t complained, many felt the problem wasn’t serious enough – however nearly one in five (19%) didn’t think their bank was capable of solving their problem while a quarter (24%) didn’t want to call an expensive phone number. The number of people with problems who chose not to complain means that many banking problems may be going unreported. 

If you have a problem with your bank, follow our guide to making a complaint.

Banks must win back our trust

Richard Lloyd, Which? Executive Director, said: ‘There’s 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.’

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