Less than one in three are satisfied with their bank

More than two-thirds of customers of high street banks are very unhappy with the service but think it is too difficult to switch to a new provider, according to a survey published today.

More than two-thirds of customers of high street banks are very unhappy with the service but think it is too difficult to switch to a new provider, according to a survey published today.

The majority of customers of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds TSB and NatWest would definitely not choose their bank again, the consumers' magazine Which? reports.

The bank that comes out worst is NatWest. One in five of the people who took part in the survey were NatWest customers, and had been for an average of 22 years. But only 15 per cent said they would definitely open a current account with it again.

By contrast, the UK's newest telephone and internet entrants to the banking market have created much higher levels of satisfaction. Nearly 70 per cent of customers of First Direct People said they would definitely choose it again.

Customers of the high street banks were dissatisfied with overdraft charges, the level of interest paid on savings and current accounts, as well as administrative mistakes and general service.

However, the survey found that people think it is too difficult and expensive to change to a new bank.

The findings back up Don Cruickshank's hard-hitting report on the banking industry earlier this year. It said 60 per cent of consumers plump for the first bank they come across and two-thirds of people hold the same account for more than 10 years. It also called for banks to make it easier to allow their customers to transfer to a different provider.

While a consortium of banks has been formed to work on a uniform system to help customers switch, the Which? findings, based on a survey of 10,000 people, will draw fresh criticism of the UK's largest banks for not doing enough. Some banks still do not belong to the body working on a new transfer system, and refuse to hand over documents to a new provider. Even those that do can refuse to process the paperwork within a set amount of time.

Helen Parker, editor of Which?, said consumers should be aware of their rights and said that it was becoming easier to change bank.

She said: "Although there seems to be a psychological barrier to switching banks, some of the other barriers are now being removed. There is also mounting pressure from newer banks, such as Smile and Cahoot to make it easier for consumers to want to change."

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