Simon Read: Don't take no for an answer if you complain to your bank

Two major banks are facing million-pound fines for their poor complaints handling. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has refused to name the banks concerned but rumours suggest they are likely to be the government-owned Lloyds Banking Group and RBS. In fact, the City watchdog has demanded five banks change the way they deal with complaints, while referring two to enforcement for further investigation, which generally means fines will follow.

The news will come as no surprise to anyone who has had dealings with any of the high-street banks lately, as customer service has become appalling. But the FSA's latest investigation uncovered the shocking fact that the banks have been paying staff bonuses if they kept complaint levels down to certain levels.

That's shocking because it confirms that delaying tactics and passing on misleading information about customers' rights was not just the actions of a few rogue staff but, by dint of the bonus payments, the unhelpful behaviour was effectively bank policy. "This is another damning indictment of the banking industry, many of whose members consistently put sales before customer service," the Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, says.

"Bonuses should be linked to treating customers fairly and the resolution of complaints, not to sales. What's more, consumers have the right to know which banks the FSA is referring to its enforcement division. If the UK's banks want to win back the public's trust, then they must fundamentally change the way they treat their customers."

A quick straw poll among friends confirms the widespread dissatisfaction with banks' service – not one person says they were treated well. And that's for normal, day-to-day account handling. If banks can't provide a basic level of service, no wonder they've struggled when it comes to dealing with complaints, which have come in in their hundreds and thousands in recent times.

The FSA says it will force banks to respond properly to customers and treat them fairly. But my advice is to vote with your feet and switch accounts if you encounter bad service. Sadly, I'm not able to recommend any one bank to move to as there's evidence of bad service from all of them – which is shocking in itself.

Forced retirement should be scrapped, according to Age UK. The charity is urging the major political parties to change the law, which forced some 120,000 older workers to retire last year despite their wanting to carry on working. "The default retirement is not only an unfair, outdated piece of legislation, it also causes real harm to our economy and public finances by depriving the labour market of experienced, skilled workers who would otherwise be paying taxes," says Michelle Mitchell of Age UK.

The charity's contention is that forcing older workers to retire costs the UK an estimated £3.5bn in lost economic output in a year. "Scrapping the default retirement age is a simple step to boost public finances," says Mitchell. But it would also give people control of their own lives back.

Research from Prudential on pension saving published this week found that just over half of British savers fear outliving their pension, because life expectancy has increased and so has the cost of retirement. Giving people the right to work longer would give them more time to build up their pension pot and less time to fear living on penury. I think it's the least we should do for workers.

Government must tackle identity theft

identity theft has climbed 20 per cent in the past year, reports Cifas, the UK's fraud-prevention service. Frighteningly, the trend of identity theft where the crooks use their victim's current address has soared 45 per cent.

While the fraudsters simply want to steal our cash, the effect of the crime can be more chilling than having a few pounds siphoned out of your bank account. Victims of impersonation often report feelings of uncertainty, helplessness and not knowing whom to trust – on top of the financial impact suffered and the time taken to rectify the damage. The impact of fraud, therefore, must always be seen as something far greater than just a financial one, Cifas says.

"The prevention of this crime must be given the attention that it demands by a new government," Peter Hurst, Cifas's chief executive, says. "The National Fraud Authority estimated the cost of fraud to the UK economy at £30bn per year – and the best way to reduce this is to prevent fraud."

s.read@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Ukip leader Nigel Farage arrives at the Rochester by-election count
voicesIs it any wonder that Thornberry, Miliband, and Cameron have no idea about ordinary everyday life?
Sport
sportComment: Win or lose Hamilton represents the best of Britain
Life and Style
tech
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsene Wenger reacts during Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Swansea
footballMan United and Arsenal meet on Saturday with both clubs this time languishing outside the top four
News
i100BBC political editor Nick Robinson had a lot of explaining to do
News
A girl plays on a Sony 'PS Vita' portable games console
news
Life and Style
Nappies could have advice on them to encourage mothers and fathers to talk to their babies more often
newsTalking to babies can improve their language and vocabulary skills
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

    Reach Volunteering: Trustee – PR& Marketing, Social Care, Commercial skills

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Age Concern Slough a...

    Reach Volunteering: Charity Treasurer

    Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Crossroads Care is s...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35,000: SThree: We consistently strive to be ...

    Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

    £50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

    Day In a Page

    US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

    Immigration: Obama's final frontier

    The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

    Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

    Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

    You know that headache you’ve got?

    Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

    Scoot commute

    Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
    Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

    The Paul Robeson story

    How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
    10 best satellite navigation systems

    Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

    Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
    Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

    Paul Scholes column

    England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

    Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

    Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
    Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

    Frank Warren column

    Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
    Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

    Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

    Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
    Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

    'How do you carry on? You have to...'

    The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

    Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

    'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

    Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
    Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

    Sir John Major hits out at theatres

    Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
    Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

    Kicking Barbie's butt

    How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines