Simon Read: Don't take no for an answer if you complain to your bank - Spend & Save - Money - The Independent

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."

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

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skies as 007 for first time
footballThe latest scores and news from Dortmund vs Arsenal and Liverpool vs Ludogorets
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
Life and Style
techCriminals now targeting e-readers
Life and Style
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Life and Style
news This video may make you think twice about ever taking the Tube again
Life and Style
A spider is seen in its web on September 16, 2014 in Hohen Meissner, Germany.
tech The 'Spider in Da House' app has been developed by scientists to tackle arachnophobia
Life and Style
fashionIncredibly, it hasn't been branded ''
A plane flies close to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano
newsAnd yes, it's quite something
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Sales Executive

    £20 - 24k (Uncapped Commission - £35k Year 1 OTE): Guru Careers: We are seekin...

    Payroll & Accounts Assistant

    £20 - 24k + Benefits: Guru Careers: This is a great opportunity for an enthusi...

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £280 - £320 p/d - 6 months

    £280 - £320 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Senior BA - Insurance **URGENT**

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week