Customer Service Awards 2013 highlights: Barclays voted worst financial provider
From the 20,000 of you who voted in this year's survey, one clear-cut ‘winner' emerged - Barclays.
Barclays has clearly lost credibility at an institutional level following a run of scandals, rather than off the back of events that have had an immediate impact on consumers.
In June 2012, Barclays was fined £290 million for manipulating the Libor exchange rate - a fraud that led to the resignation of the bank's chairman, chief executive and chief operating officer.
This scandal, when set against the notoriously excessive levels of boardroom pay (across the banking sector, as well as at Barclays, to be fair), was clearly the last straw for many readers.
Barclays ranked well below its peers in the survey, with the number of negative comments outweighing positives by almost 4:1. In comparison, for every positive comment Lloyds Banking Group saw 1.3 negative comments and Natwest posted a ratio of 1.2 negative comments, while HSBC received just 0.9 negative comments for every positive one.
Perhaps sentiment surrounding Barclays this year is best summed up by Moneywise readers. Here are a few criticisms you had about the bank.
- "They come across as totally arrogant, selfish and above the law."
- "From its board to its management team, a company that has lost touch with its history and sense of purpose."
- "If they lie in such high-profile transactions as the Libor scandal, why would they tell the truth to a customer?"
- "They have exhibited greed, malpractice and little genuine thought for customers...financial parasites with 'snout in the trough' senior management/directors."
- "Although I was a loyal customer in my youth, more recent experiences stopped me using this bank."
- "Charged me over £1,800 in overdraft fees, treated me with complete arrogance, staff are incompetent, made most profit from tax avoidance and rigging Libor."
In total, 17% of respondents who answered the question "Who do you trust least?", stated Barclays. We received 1,804 negative comments about Barclays, from a total of just under 12,000 people who left survey comments.
The challenge for Barclays is to try to overturn negative public opinion of the group, but it will have to do so from the top down - with the board of directors introducing a new era of customer service and transparency that trickles all the way down to the staff in every branch and in every call centre the group uses.
This is a mighty challenge, and one that previous recipients of the Least Trusted award have managed in the past. Last year, RBS was voted the least-trusted firm - this year, it is on the shortlist for Most Improved Bank, while NatWest has won this year's Most Trusted Mainstream Bank.
Santander has also managed to shed its previous image to become a reasonably reliable provider.
But Barclays' challenge has not got off to a great start since we undertook the survey: in late-June 2013, it was reported Barclays is to start selling information about its 13 million customers' spending habits to other companies.
On his blog, businessman and celebrity Richard Branson recently wrote: "Making customer service key to your company will keep your employees motivated and your customers happy. This in turn ensures enduring loyalty, business success and a batter experience for everyone."
It's a sentiment that Barclays would do well to remember.
An overdraft is an agreement with your bank that authorises you to withdraw more funds from your account than you have deposited in it. Many banks charge for this privilege either as a fixed fee or charge interest on the money overdrawn at a special high rate. Some banks charge a fee and interest. And other banks offer a free overdraft but impose very high charges for exceeding the agreed limit of your overdraft.
The London Inter-Bank Offer Rate is the rate at which banks lend to each other over the short term from overnight to five years. The LIBOR market enables banks to cover temporary shortages of capital by borrowing from banks with surpluses and vice versa and reduces the need for each bank to hold large quantities of liquid assets (cash), enabling it to release funds for more profitable lending. LIBOR rates are used to determine interest rates on many types of loan and credit products such as credit cards, adjustable rate mortgages and business loans.