Santander voted worst for customer service

Santander logo

Spanish-owned bank Santander has been voted as the worst financial services company for the second year in a row by Moneywise readers.

In total there were eight major banks in the bottom 20 companies, but with Santander receiving three times more votes than the next worst bank, the Spanish giant is fast becoming the bank its customers love to hate.

Over 12,000 people voted in Moneywise's Great British Customer Services survey which asked readers about the best and worst providers for service, based on their own experiences. Santander received 40% of comments about bad service, while Barclays came second with 11% and Halifax third with 9%.

Long queues in branches, unhelpful call centres and untrained staff were three of the most common complaints about Santander.

Subsequent improvement

Editor of Moneywise, Johanna Gornitzki, said: "While it is understandable that the banking giant's service took a nosedive when it initially tried to amalgamate its numerous businesses under one brand, there are no signs of subsequent improvement."

In response to the dismal results, Steve Williams, director of service quality at Santander, apologised to all those who have complained.

He said: "It's not our business strategy to have competitive products and poor customer service – that is certainly not our intention." 

But Gornitzki says the bank needs to prove that it is serious about customer service and make some fundamental changes. Until then she said "the complaints will keep on flooding in".


Problems at the bank began in 2004 when it first bought Abbey National, then Bradford & Bingley in September 2008, shortly followed by Alliance & Leicester in October 2008. Finally last year it agreed to take over 318 branches from Royal Bank of Scotland, likely to be completed in the first quarter of 2012.

The poll of Moneywise readers asked them to rate the financial service companies they use across a wide range of products, including current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards and car and travel insurance.

The research is also being used to award those companies that provide the best service and are most trusted by UK consumers as part of the third Moneywise Customer Service Awards. The shortlisted companies in each category have been published and the winners will be announced at a gala dinner on 23 June.

For details on all this year's Customer Service Awards winners go to

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I concur with the public view on Santander. After years of frustration I have finally managed to relinquish my last remaining link with them - and ended it with a formal complaint.

Newpapers obviously love them: they provide so much material for articles and advice to poor hapless customers. The Sunday Times Money Section rarely has a week go by wihtout someone writing in to ask for help with Santander problems.

Why can't the FSA just cancel their permit to operate in the UK???

I have just returned this a.m. from attempting to open a cash ISA account in 3 santander branches -all located within the same city centre area a few hundred yards apart. None could oblige, offering me appointments tomorrow, or at best later today. They could not give me any forms which I could post in. The web site has consistently had error messages half way through the online registration process. Is it worth it for that extra % interest?

Mybranch in Cumbernauld could not be better most helpful.

Steve Williams,at Santander, said: "It's not our business strategy to have competitive products"

Says it all really !!

I use Santander and I would like to agree wholeheartedly with the findings :-)
They are pants!

I can confirm as from todays date Santander live up to the votes.. I got thier for my appoinment only to find the Finacial adviser was in another bank 15 miles away..Slap dash santander..again..

I agree they are, they take your money and you have to fight to get it back!

My wife and I have recently switched our account from Santander to the Co-operative Bank because of the poor service. It was so easy. The Co-op took care of all our direct debits/standing orders and everything has gone so smoothly. We would not recommend Santander for all the tea in China!

Three times i've contacted the fraud department and was told they would deal with it promptly, I'm still waiting.

I have found with Santander that it depends which branch you visit. For example we now use Felixstowe instead of Ipswich as it is a much smaller branch, they have time for you, are friendly and you can have an appointment almost immediately. It is sad that the whole of Santander gets this bad press, not all branches are bad!

I have to say, we both have Santander various accounts both branch & online and have had no problems at all,; (so far)

have dealt with santander for my personal banking for the last 2 years,no problems at all.transfer of isa and account bankink all dealt with quickly with better than average returns

I concur with the results of your survey, that Santander offers poor customer service. I responded to an advert last year, in which they offered an attractive looking deal . The cashier I spoke to in my local branch seemed to know little about it (although advertised on television) and had no literature to give me.. She undertook to let me know when details were available. A year or so later I'm still waiting. There are plenty of other, switched on, financial organisations out there - I don't need to deal with one with such a disregard for its potential customers

I tried to pay some cheques into Santander using my Alliancr and Leicester paying in book as we have never been issued with a new account number. The system would not recognise my account.

What a surprise not!

It is not just the bank that is so abysmal. Our local branch managed to lose probate papers twice in as many weeks & then denied all responsibility. The staff there are rude and condescending.

Santander allow accounts to be closed without proper proof of identity and then deny all knowledge of the account at all.

We ahve just spent 4 months sorting out my wife's ex-store cards run by them. They process payments late and then charge interest and penalty fees. Say they will take them off and do not. They do not reply to letters becasue they do read them properly (can their staff actually read?) and then lose payment cheques. They were bad enough as the Abbey but have gone consistently downhill ever since.

Why are they allowed to operate in the UK? Are they this bad in spain and if not why not?

I have 2 fixed term ISA's with the worst bank. They are both supposed to pay 3.5%.
You can imagine my worry when the statement came and one of them said I had been credited with £17 and the other £0.

I had expected more the £700 between the two. I went into the branch to ask them to investigate to be told that I was not to worry it was just a glitch in the system!

I asked if they would confirm the correct interest payment and they said no it will be added on at the end of the two year term. I said I would prefer it at the proper time and their response was ' it cant be added manually it will mess up my ISA allpowance for the year - I admit I am still puzzled but dont know who to contact as the branch staff in Yeovil were most unhelpful and they said their system would not let them confirm in writing.

Any suggestions moneywise would be gratefully recieved.

santander staff do not seem to know what they are talking about and make a guess to answer questions that i have asked them. I wanted to know what charges would be involved when using their debit and credit cards in spain. 2 members of staff on the telephones said the cards would be free to use in santander machines but in a branch I was told that the debit card would cost me a set fee and a percentage fee every time i used it in a santander machine in spain.

I used to work for this bank and I can see why they are voted as this worse. They run on very low staff in branches, the staff are demotivated because they get so much grief off customers. I was good at my job and it came to a point where I would have to deal with all the problems of customers and staff errors in my branch. I experienced many managers that hid from customers at all costs and if they had to make an appointment it would be in a month just for the sake of being difficult. It was so target driven, what the customer actually needed wasn't important. For example, the mortgage advisors get their points for doing business on a mortgage regardless of whether or not it goes through, so as u can imagine it was difficult to get them to help the customer afterwards as they weren't interested anymore. I even experienced an advisor recommend a customer by a different house so they get put through another mortgage. I ended up solving the issue easily. The back office roles are completely unhelpful to the branch staff and it would take months to fix, I regularly had arguments with people in these departments. I had enough in the end, got fed up with the constant stream of problems, stress, and relentless targets.

They've got good products, but if something goes wrong, your screwed because it wont be fixed easily!

In my experience with Santandar, their customer service is a joke. The FSA should cancel their permit to operate in the UK.

My cousin - who was a Santander customer- died last December, and my husband and I took in a copy of the death certificate, so that Santander could suspend his account his debts were being sorted out. They continued to send statements showing how much interest his debts were racking up. We made 2 trips into Santander's branch with the death certificate and several phone calls, to try and ensure that they didn't keep sending statements to a dead person. This was really upsetting for his mother, an elderly widow. The staff didn't seem to quite know what they were doing. My husband and I are also Santander customers - but only while we get extra interest on our account. It certainly wouldn't be their customer service that would ensure we remained loyal to them!

We, a small charity were foolish enough to believe all the business manager told us(being unhappy with Lloyds TSB for some time), when reality hit, he in actual fact downright lied to us, somebod at the business management centre was most offended at this comment and whilst he admitted we were NOT told the truth - we hadn't been lied to just misinformed. Semantics, semantics and yet more lies. We have now ended up with a bank that affords us FEWER resources to our accounts than Lloyds (and believe me that's not easy) for example we have no counter service, we can not withdraw cash, because we have no counter service and can not have a card because we have to have two signatures , something we told the local business manger on numerous occasions and were assured it was no problem. Well it wasn't to them, but having no access to cash, direct debits, movement of funds etc etc was and still is actually a problem to US. And what have the brilliant customer service and business management team done to put right all their mistakes and lies? Correct NOTHING. It should be covered by legislation that it is an offence to mis sell a bank account, the same as it is to mis sell insurance, mortgage etc. Then lets see if they can get a "Get out of Jail free" card

Perhaps the `Finacial` adviser saw your spelling and grammar !

It has been widely known for some time that Santander has made a complete mess of its UK operations. In view of this, it seems incredible that they were allowed to take over a large chunk of the RBS/ Natwest branch network.

We can go one better than that! We tried to get an appointment with a mortgage advisor in one of our two local branches, but were told they could not fit us in for over 3 MONTHS!
We were then offered an appointment at another branch, some distance away, and arriving at the branch ten minutes before the allotted time we were asked to wait. We were told the mortgage advisor was at another branch but would be with us within half an hour.
Over an hour later we were asked into the manager's office, where we were told they didn't actually have a mortgage advisor any more, he left several weeks earlier and that we would have to make another appointment at our local branch!.

Would like to echo sentiments of other dissatisfied customers. No problem all years with Alliance & Leicester then Santander "reviewed" my overdraft (as I didn't really use it much) which resulted in me inadvertently going overdrawn (not much - still under the limit I thought I still had & only for few days) - then charged me for going over my new limit (which I knew nothing about)!!!

In comparison to RBS, Natwest, HBSC Santander are not bad at all. They did not require a bailout by the taxpayer. Perhaps the aforementioned banks should have their licences cancelled as their fraudulent behaviour in regards to PPI for example is as near th theft as you can get. People have very short memories.

This survey, year-on-year, always surprise me to some level of disbelief. I have been using Santander, actually started with Abbey National, and have NOT experiencing any of the so-called hardship being talked about on this website. I think that customers should try to do comparative analysis in their response to this survey. I have current accounts with Santander, Barclays and Natwest and some other financial products with them equally. And I can say categorically that Santander do perform way above these other two BIG banks. Of noticeable influence is the problems being experienced by Santander bank when they took on board those other arms of their businesses (Bradford & Bingley, and A&L) which are very much expected in any such synergy. If you compare this with Barclays or Natwest that haven't, this is so short of their customer service performance ratings. One advice that I will like to give is that Santander customers should rather make the short trip to their local branch and USE the freely available phone there to phone directly to their customer services / telephone banking services. I mostly use their Online Banking service which I have NOT experienced a problem for once before... For the records, I work in IT sector and I have NEVER worked for any financial organisation before, so that no one will think that I'm Santander employee. In fact, I made bold to say that I AM ONE OF SANTANDER CUSTOMERS....Thank you.

I agree - I do think it depends on the branch you use. There are 3 branches in the nearest town to where we live and we deal with what used to be the Abbey branch. The young man we deal with could not be more helpful and as far as we are concerned he should be rewarded for this. We had previously used the original Santander branch across the road and they were very poor, saying they would sort things out and didn't. I would say that we received 'bumph' from their Bradford base and the spelling mistakes in the letter we received (a template) horrified me - but they're not the people in the branch I deal with regularly. They've a lomg way to go to improve their image generally, but as I have said, I think it depends on the branch you deal with.

So many dissatisfied Santander customers ! what amazes me even more is the fact that they are too lethargic to do something about it ...... like vote with their feet, and change to another provider ! Stop moaning, and do something !
By the way, I've never experienced any problems or issues with Santander, and I've been with them since they took over my A&L account.

Tried to draw money of at cash point on a Saturday Evening and refused for no reason.. Tried 3 different machines.... Had to borrow money from friend.

Turned out it had been flagged for frauld .... Couldn't get in touch to get this reversed until the Monday as this was when the "Fraud department" was open....

Monday came, rang the number on hold for 20 minutes and they couldnt explain the "Flag" and reversed it... Absolute Joke

I contact fraud several times after my account was blocked. It was a pass the buck situation really. They told me to enquire in the branch, which I did and they branch staff told me I could contact the Police but they couldn't do anything without someone to arrest for fraud, so the branch couldn't help me after that and Fraud ''don't get the Police involved' Thankfully I'd nipped it in the bud before fraudsters got any of my money, but like I say 'My money, someone did get into my account and they've got away with it.

Just opened an acount with them and have had problems from day 1. Made a transfer to another account only to find my account blocked because of 'suspicious activity'. I was promised the payment would be made & my account unblocked. Next day, I got a letter daying the payment had been witheld and not paid. Having phoned & been cut off twice, I went through the huge list of security questions and because I made one error, had the phone put down on me. went through it all again to be told that they would not promise that the payment would go through if I tried again!! Are they supposed to be a bank? The request to make a normal payment seemed to have caught them by surprise.....

Going back to my old bank

I found mailing a gr8 help for online banking mess ups. Quick and accurate reply!!!!

I have had dealings with many financial organisations. Many have made mistakes and owned up to it BUT not Santander. For example 2 financial organisations Black Horse and Santander placed defaults on my credit file by mistake. This was a big inconvenience to me.

I wrote one letter to Blackhorse and they wrote back to me with an apology, they amended my credit file (within 2 weeks) and offered me £300 in compensation. On the hand with SANTANDER:- I have written 3 letters but receive a half hearted apology letter and a Good Will Gesture offer £15. They have still not amended my credit file after 8 months and they have refused to compensate me any more than £15. I have a credit card with Santander and I am currently unable to balance transfer because they are dragging their feet on amending my credit file. They also advised that if was not happy with their decision I should take it to the ombudsman.

The worsted Customer Care I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend people to avoid them!

Two days ago, I closed down 2 current accounts, 1 ISA and 1 savings account with Santander
Well shot of them, never been with a worse bank.  Now with Halifax and they have been fantastic.

I recently split from my partner, try'ed to remain a Santander customer, but got declined, to take over mortgage myself. Being paying it for 18 months myself. I wasn't given option to go in branch and speak to a human!
It was done over the phone, most harrowing experience ever. Lost count of advisors, I have spoken too. Nobody at Santander seems to communicate.
So to cut the story, I was declined. And told to speak to an independent financial advisor. Which I felt I had to do ASAP! 
Oh, by the way, that will be £3729.02. To come out of mortgage. I renewed recently, as I felt, I would remain, a Santander customer.
I complained, and got a £35 payment..........WOW!
I now have mortgage and bank etc, with Naitionwide.
If they were a decent company, they would have forgotten my settlement fee.