Based on the latest complaints data published by banks and building societies we seem to be turning into a nation of complainers. But then given the high charges and poor service seemingly peddled by some banks maybe that’s not surprising.
The table below covers banking complaints over the first half of this year, 1 January to 30 June. The figures for closed complaints are higher than usual as they include a lot of bank charges complaints carried over from last year; this has also reduced the proportion of complaints upheld for some institutions.
|Upheld||per 1,000 accounts|
||Alliance & Leicester, Bradford & Bingley & Cahoot|
||Standard Life Cash Savings|
||Cheshire BS, Derbyshire BS, Dunfermline BS|
||Cheltenham & Gloucester|
|Royal Bank of Scotland
||Direct Line Savins, The One Account, VirginMoney|
|Bank of Scotland
||Halifax, Birmingham Midshires, Intelligent Finance|
|* data between 05/10/09 - 04/04/10|
Interesting to note how the proportion of complaints upheld (i.e. resolved in the customer's favour) varies widely. In part this is due to some banks receiving a higher proportion of complaints over charges (these will have mostly been rejected following the OFT verdict last November), but the variance is still surprising. For example, based on these figures Barclays appears to be more than twice as likely to uphold a complaint versus Lloyds TSB.
Should complaint levels influence your decision when choosing a bank or building society?
For current accounts and credit cards I would say yes. Given these are very active types of account the scope for errors, excessive charges and bad service are higher than less active accounts such as savings. But the overall competitiveness of a particular account should still probably be the driving force behind your decision.
And if you think the wealthy are immune from bad service and excessive charges then you’ll be as surprised as I was to discover that Coutts & Co received 5.5 complaints per 1,000 bank accounts – higher than all but one of the high street banks...