Simon Read: Banks must pay for their arrogance

Angry customers have been queuing up to complain about their banks, according to figures published this week by the Financial Ombudsman Service. Each of the high street banks had thousands of complaints that ended up being referred to the Ombudsman, with Barclays topping the list of shame with more than 8,000 complaints referred during the first six months of the year.

The number of grievances has doubled over the past year, chiefly because of the campaign against bank charges led by The Independent. Because the banks have, as yet, failed to deal adequately with the charges issue, tens of thousands of fed-up customers have been forced to give up on banks' own complaints teams and take their problem to the Ombudsman. Stripping those out, the figures may not look so bad.

But I was still staggered by the arrogance of the British Bankers' Association (BBA), which claimed that the figures demonstrated that most customers are happy with their banks. Eric Leenders, the BBA's executive director, rushed out a press release pointing out that the banks conduct millions of transactions every day. As such, was his conclusion, even with tens of thousands of complaints, they're hardly worth breaking sweat over as they represent such a tiny proportion of the overall work the banks do. "Millions of transactions for millions of customers go through the banking system every day and... these numbers published by the ombudsman show that most customers have no problems with their bank," was Leenders preposterous claim.

He also suggested that there is less than one upheld complaint for every 10,000 products you can get from your bank. So what? I'd say Mr Leenders is living in cloud cuckoo land if he really believes the majority of us are happy with our banks. Unless I've missed something, the opposite is true.

Peter Vicary-Smith, the chief executive of Which?, was equally astounded. "At a time when the industry should be seeking to learn from its mistakes, it defies belief that the body representing the banking industry would seek to 'spin' what are clearly appalling results for the industry," he stormed. "The BBA should be trying to get its members to fix these problems, rather than encouraging them to bury their heads in the sand."

I couldn't agree more. It is time the banks 'fessed up to their shortcomings and did something about improving them. Oddly enough, only the Abbey – owned by Spanish bank Santander – took the trouble to contact me to apologise, even though the number of complaints referred to the Ombudsman about the bank fell. A spokesman said: "We acknowledge that we still need to do better."

They do, along with the other high street banks. And they can start by actually putting decent complaints procedures in place so that we aren't forced to take our case to the Ombudsman. Some two-thirds of complaints about banks were upheld, which shows just how far they need to go before they can claim to be treating us fairly.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Client Services Manager - Relationship Management - London

    £30000 - £32000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller / Customer Service

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...

    Guru Careers: In-House / Internal Recruiter

    £25 - 28k + Bonus: Guru Careers: An In-house / Internal Recruiter is needed to...

    Recruitment Genius: Tax Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Tax Assistant is required to join a leading ...

    Day In a Page

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project