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Suspicious consumers boost bank complaints figures

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28/09/2006

The rise of savvy shoppers in the UK has put banks under pressure to improve their products and services.  
Recent research from the Banking Code Standards Board has shown a 50% increase in complaints against high street banks, showing consumers are prepared to speak out about supposed unfair treatment from their banks. Stuart Glendinning, director at price comparison site, moneysupermarket.com, says the increase in complaints is significant, with most concerning interest rates and penalty charges.

“Though consumers may consider these unfair,” he continues, “they have not themselves increased to such a degree – it is worth looking at what might have prompted this sudden upsurge.”

According to Glendinning, the proliferation of comparison sites and best buy tables available to consumers is part of the reason, as they promote a greater awareness of what products are available in the market. He explains: “They not only aid people when they want to make a financial purchase by allowing them to compare the market, but also fulfil another important role by allowing existing customers, who don’t necessarily want to switch, to check how good a deal they are already receiving.”

Another piece of research, this time from Moneyfacts.co.uk, has found that 46% of consumers don’t trust their bank. A further 58% of respondents think branch-based banking will completely disappear in the future.

Emma Butler, editor at Moneyfacts.co.uk, says: “This percentage of consumers not trusting their bank is unsurprising – it is not often that banks get positive PR. However, the reasons behind this lack of trust may be concerning. With people increasingly voicing their dissatisfaction, banks are being forced to make changes to the way in which they work.”

Butler cites Lloyds’ recent decision to introduce instant interest payments on deposited cheques as a prime example of these changes. She also says consumers’ belief that branch banking will disappear could be down to the level of closures already announced in recent years or the increasing popularity of alternative routes, such as the internet or telephone banking.

But, whatever the reason, Glendinning issues a stark warning for the banking sector: “What is clear is that the banks need to be careful because customers are becoming more savvy in terms of shopping around and/or complaining. Gone are the days when banks could get away with offering unattractive terms.”
 

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