Simon Read: Santander says that it's trying… it's certainly still trying my patience


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The Independent Online

Santander had the most complaints about banking in the second half of last year. The Spanish-owned bank had 107,724 complaints, almost a third more than Barclays, which came in second place in the table of shame, with 80,067.

Santander has struggled to deal with its banking problems, many of which are a legacy of it taking over rivals Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley at the height of the banking crisis.

Having met the senior management at the bank I know that they are concerned, especially as the problems mean its plans for a separate IPO for the British subsidiary are likely to have to be put on hold until at least 2015.

But while I'm sympathetic to the problems, and pleased that senior staff are working to solve them, my patience is starting to wear a little thin.

The bank has been busy launching new products on the back of its successful 1 2 3 credit card and current account, but it's hard to recommend them when anyone switching to Santander could end up facing all sorts of other problems.

My recent article in praise of banks – where readers kindly contributed their positive stories about their bank – did include a couple of mentions for Santander.

But, as with all the other high-street banks, the praise was reserved for local staff, not for the bank's bosses.

If the bank can't get to grips with its computer problems very soon it's not only in danger of losing more customers, but I wouldn't be surprised to see an exodus of the very workers that customers value.

Meanwhile, looking at all financial complaints in the past six months – the majority of which are still about mis-sold payment protection insurance – Barclays actually topped the list, attracting 309,494 new complaints. Lloyds Bank came second, with 256,656.

The figures point to the continuing shame of our biggest-ever mis-selling scandal – the bill for which to the big high-street banks is likely to top £20bn.

But they are also a stark reminder to the banks of the huge gap between where the they would like to be in terms of garnering our trust, and where they actually are – still a million miles away.

Twitter: @simonnread

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