The most and least trusted customer service providers
MOST TRUSTED OVERALL PROVIDER: FIRST DIRECT
Having been named most trusted provider for many of the products it offers, it's not surprising that First Direct also picks up the title of most trusted overall provider.
While Moneywise readers gave First Direct the thumbs up for its products, with everything from the interest rates on its mortgage to the cover on its travel insurance receiving praise, it's the service from the call centre staff that really won their trust.
"They have a can do attitude," said one customer, while another described the call centre staff as "first class". Another customer's comment was "they actually answer telephone calls", which highlights the errors being made by other financial services companies.
Indeed, even when problems occurred, customers said they appreciated the response from First Direct. One said: "I've only ever had one problem in seven years and this was resolved promptly."
And possibly helping to reduce the number of complaints, and make life a little easier for those manning the call centre phones, is First Direct's slick online service which won plenty of praise from its customers. This can be summed up by one comment: "The website is easy to use and I can do nearly everything on it. This means there's no need to call customer services unless I really have to."
By giving its customers an easy way to manage their finances, whether they do it themselves or speak to customer services, First Direct has more than proved its worth in these awards – and has successfully won its customers' trust.
WORST OVERALL PROVIDER: SANTANDER
Having made an appearance in the bottom two for all bar one of these categories, it's not surprising that Santander scoops the title of worst overall provider.
But while some things the bank does were rated highly in this survey, for instance the 0% commission on foreign credit card purchases and the interest rates on some of its savings accounts, the comments from customers who'd experienced problems were far from complimentary.
"I've had many problems, too numerous to mention," said one customer, adding only that day he'd paid £1,000 into his savings account but received a receipt for £800. Another used one word to sum up their views of Santander: "incompetent".
While poor service is inexcusable, perhaps reassuringly for customers, Santander is well aware it has a problem. Steve Williams, director of service quality at Santander, said: "We know more needs to be done and one of our immediate priorities is to keep working hard to improve customer service."
"We offer some of the best financial products available and we will keep working to ensure customer service is as good."
Having performed badly in our awards last year, Moneywise hopes Santander is serious about its intentions to improve customer service and that next year it doesn't dominate the relegation zone quite so prolifically.
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.