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Barclays and Tesco Bank under fire over service breaches

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Barclays was ranking higher in customer service polls due to using outdated figures while Tesco Bank failed to prominently display its ratings.

The banks are now being monitored by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) after it found breaches relating to ‘Service Quality Indicators’ (SQI).

Since August 2018, banks and building societies have been required to publish customer satisfaction ratings (SQI) on their websites or within two steps of mobile banking apps to make it easier for people to compare and switch. They’re based on how likely customers would be to recommend their bank to family and friends.

What did Barclays get wrong?

These ratings must be updated twice a year, but the competition watchdog found that Barclays displayed old rankings which overstated its customer service level.

It should have displayed the rankings for August 2021, but between 16 August and 13 October 2021, it showed figures from the previous period.

As such, customers mistakenly believed Barclays was the sixth best bank for personal current accounts whereas in reality it was in seventh position. It also showed a satisfaction score of 66%, whereas this figure should have shown 63%.

The CMA said: “Customers in Great Britain may have kept their PCA [account] with Barclays if they solely looked at this webpage, whereas had they seen the up-to-date information they may have switched to a higher-scoring competitor.”

Barclays notified the CMA of the breach on 27 October 2021 and since then, it has taken a number of steps to ensure it avoids another breach, such as a ‘four eyes’ process, manual validation check and requiring staff to sign their initials and date when tasks have been completed.

What about Tesco?

The breach relates to where Tesco displayed these rankings. Instead of two steps away on the banking app, it published them three steps away for 59 days between 24 July and 21 September 2021.

The CMA noted: “Approximately 544 Tesco Bank customers may have missed that, of the 17 largest PCA [account] providers whose customers were surveyed for the August 2021 SQI results, Tesco Bank ranked 16th for Overall Quality of Service, 17th for Online and Mobile Banking Services and 17th for Overdraft Services.”

It added: “The CMA is concerned that customers need to update their mobile banking app to view the SQIs within two screens of the primary mobile banking app screen. Customers using an old version of the app for a prolonged time may suffer continued indirect harm as a result.”

Tesco identified the breach and the CMA highlighted that it has taken steps to prevent a reoccurrence such as by updating the app, staff training and carried out a full review of its compliance relating to service ratings.

Colin Garland director, remedies, business and financial analysis at the CMA, said of the banks: “The CMA does not consider it appropriate to take further formal enforcement action in relation to this breach at present. The CMA will monitor future compliance closely.”