Which is the worst bank for complaints?

25 February 2010

New figures reveal that 47,000 complaints were made against just five banking groups in the second half of last year – equal to 57% of all grievances made against financial firms.

This is the second time the Financial Ombudsman Service has published data that names and shames individual financial businesses based on the number of complaints it receives from consumers about them.

The Ombudsman service received a total of 82,136 new complaints between July and December last year – up 18% from the first half of the year. Of these new cases, 88% related to 155 financial businesses (out of more than 100,000 businesses covered) and 57% referred to just five banking groups.

Banking group Number of new complaints
(July - Dec 2009)
Number of new complaints
(Jan - June 2009)
Lloyds Banking Group 20,190 15,233
Barclays 10,892 9,056
RBS 7,098 5,883
Abbey 4,918 4,279
HSBC 3,881 2,969
Source: The Financial Ombudsman Service

In terms of individual banking brands, Lloyds TSB received the most (9,952) but was closely followed by Barclays Bank (9,836).

The figures also show that, in the second half of 2009, the Ombudsman upheld an average of 53% of complaints in favour of consumers - down from 59% in the first half of the year.

David Thomas, interim chief ombudsman, says some businesses have improved their complaints handling.

However, he adds: “There is evidently still room for significant improvement in the way other financial businesses handle complaints – judged by the proportion of cases where we overturn the decision that the businesses have themselves come to in their own earlier investigation of their customer complaints.”

What does customer service mean to you?

It may have been due to high expectations, low tolerance levels for poor service or simply too much second-rate service, but the 2009 Moneywise Customer Service Awards certainly produced plenty of grumbles.

While the best companies scored over nine out of 10 for current accounts, Abbey only scored 6.45, with Bank of Scotland and Barclays each scoring just over seven out of 10.

Abbey (now Santander) was rated as particularly poor for its call-centre service, but also did badly for branch service and online service.

One disgruntled customer commented: “I don’t know which the best is – but the absolute worst ever is Abbey. It could offer 25% interest and I wouldn’t go there.”

For savings accounts, as with current accounts, Abbey, Barclays and Bank of Scotland are all seen as poor. For cash ISAs, Abbey, HSBC and Bradford & Bingley did not fare well, with scores of less than 6.5 out of 10, compared with around eight out of 10 for companies which did well in this category.

On the overall scores for mortgages, Northern Rock, scored below average, with 6.89 out of 10. NatWest and Halifax also scored relatively poorly overall in mortgages.

There is a reasonably tight spread of scores for credit cards, indicating generally good service. At the bottom end, with scores around 7.5 out of 10, compared with 8.5 to nine for the best, came NatWest, Barclaycard and Royal Bank of Scotland.

Lloyds TSB and Norwich Union trailed the field for home insurance, while Swinton and Norwich Union did poorly for motor insurance. In travel insurance it was Flexicover Direct and HSBC that suffered.

We received more than 10,000 responses to the 2009 Customer Service Awards – but a lot can change in a year and we need your help to find the best (and worst) providers in the 2010 survey.

Is your main bank still pulling out all the stops for you, or has your credit card provider suddenly started treating you like a second-class citizen?

The Customer Service Award questionnaire only takes 15 minutes to complete and the results will help us reward the companies that deserve it – and name and shame those that have let you down.

Plus, you’ll also be entered into our prize draw to win £1,000.


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