Simon Read: Finance firms should include complaints figures in adverts
Saturday 01 October 2011
Barclays Bank this week confirmed its position as Britain's most-complained about financial firm. The company attracted 251,563 complaints in the first six months of the year, almost 40 per cent more than second-placed Lloyds TSB.
Barclays defended its position by pointing out that it has actually cut the number of complaints it received about banking issues, as opposed to to the rising number of complaints about insurance mis-selling it attracted. It also promised to try to do better.
It needs to. I have some sympathy with the fact that the complaints data includes everyone who complains, even if their problem is resolved at once, or is simply the result of confusion about costs or services. But that still doesn't excuse the fact that Barclays has now topped the table of shame for the second period in a row.
If it gets a hat-trick and is the most complained-about firm yet again when the next figures are published in six months' time, I suggest Barclays be forced to add the title to its advertising so that potential customers know that unhappiness may be just around the corner.
Another thing worth noting with the latest complaints figures is the fact that the total overall number of complaints increased by 6.5 per cent in a year to 1,852,284. That means that some 10,000 complaints were made every working day in the first six months of the year.
Even allowing for the tidal wave of complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance – a shocking scandal in its own right – the fact that banks, in the main, are still attracting such a colossal level of complaints is scandalously unacceptable.
What's the solution? Three things: better products, better explanations of them and better service. The reason why so many people complain about their bank – or, indeed, other financial firm – is because they are sold an account or insurance or loan or whatever that proves to be not what they expected.
So the interest paid is less, or the charges higher, or the terms and conditions or penalties are much more onerous than people are led to believe. So financial products need to be more transparent so that people can understand what they're buying, and more skewed in favour of customers than they are at present.
If people did understand what they were buying, then few would have any reason to complain about the products once they have signed up. Of course it's also incumbent upon all of us to be better informed when making financial choices.
But financial institutions also need to massively improve their customer service. The initial standard response to a customer complaint still seems to be to send a dismissive formulated letter or email of rejection, judging by the evidence we get from readers who have been fobbed off.
Banks, insurers and others must stop simply paying lip service to the idea of customer service and start treating people fairly and with respect.
To encourage them to do so I suggest that all firms should include comparative complaints figures in their adverts, along with the rest of the small print, so that it becomes part of the way we judge them. That would be a powerful inducement to reduce complaints and provide better service than their rivals.
The average household now owes £55,822 while individual debt is at £29,546, according to debt charity Credit Action.
Its October debt statistics also reveal that £175m is the personal interest paid in the UK daily while the annual growth rate in consumer lending has risen to 2.3 per cent, its highest level since May 2009.
While borrowing is essential for most of us, particularly those with a mortgage, spare a thought for those whose debt levels are proving unmanageable. Credit Action says a home is repossessed every 14.6 minutes.
The total number of people who have been out of work for more than a year has climbed to 849,000. With 1,775 people losing their job every day in the three months to the end of July, more hard-up folk will face losing their home in the coming months.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
- 1 Cameron's freebie to apartheid South Africa
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 4 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 5 People will try to reduce Mandela to a lilting reggae tune about ‘love’. They will fail
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: A global Con...
£150 - £250 per day: Cornwallis Elt : iPhone Rollout- Blackberry Enginee...
£55000 - £70000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: A well-known and renowned in...
£450 - £500 per hour: Cornwallis Elt : Business Analyst Finance System Hy...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.
A six-bedroom detached period property with secluded gardens, ample parking and a double garage in Rye, £675,000.
A large split-level property with three double-bedrooms and roof terrace, close to Crouch End Broadway, £625,000.
A charming barn conversion in the picturesque Cotswold village of Ilmington with three bedrooms, a detached garage, workshop and beautifully manicured gardens £675,000.
A three-bedroom new build, ground-floor flat with two bathrooms, close to Bermondsey tube, £445,000.
A three-bedroom house in an enviable new development moments from Oxshott High Street, with secluded garden and decked area, £385,000
A two-bedroom split-level flat with stunning south-west facing roof terrace in the popular Brondesbury Conservation Area, £549,950.
A charming 16th century, three-bedroom detached house in Bidborough with picturesque garden