Simon Read: When will the banks start listening to our fair complaints?
Saturday 02 October 2010
Another week, another astonishing list of complaints about our banks. On Thursday it was the Financial Service Authority's turn to release statistics demonstrating just how little banks care about customer service. The City watchdog reported that around 1.3 million complaints about poor service or the misselling of financial products were logged against the high street banks in just six months.
That means there were 7,143 complaints against banks every day in the first half of the year, the bulk of them being directed at the oversized Lloyds Banking Group, which alone accounted for more than half a million complaints. As a result the FSA is likely to fine two of Britain's biggest banks for failures in complaints handling.
It is also proposing to increase the the maximum compensation award to consumers to £150,000 from £100,000. I must admit I didn't know there was a maximum, but there clearly shouldn't be.
If we want banks to toe the line and offer decent services and products, we should be able to make them pay dearly when they cock up or deliberately treat people badly. I hate the compensation culture that is creeping into our society, but when we can prove that banks have done wrong, they should pay the price.
* Three cheers to Dorset builder Cameron Hope, who bricked up the door of his local Barclays bank last weekend at his frustration at the bank's continued refusal to lend money to ordinary people. "It's like to talking to a brick wall," he said. While many folk will have sympathy with Mr Hope's plight (he's been continually turned down for a loan) I was interested to learn that he had originally targeted NatWest but was thwarted by a heavy police presence in the area.
So he drove round until he found another bank branch to brick up, which just happened to be Barclays in Westbourne. "I've got nothing against Barclays," Mr Hope said. But, as his demonstration showed, all banks are equally worthy of our wrath. Lloyds may have had the most complaints so far this year, but that's only because now it has taken over HBOS, it is the biggest British bank.
Apart from laudable initiatives like bank accounts for prisoners, which we report opposite, all the banks are consistently failing us at the moment.
* Motor insurers were also rightly in the firing line this week after Which? Money named and shamed the firms which charge outrageous sums for making tiny changes to insurance policies. Some charge a ridiculous £50 or more simply for setting up a policy or for making a small adjustment, such as changing an address. If you need duplicate documents you could be charged up to £30, and even renewing a policy can cost you up to £55 with some insurers.Some charges are fair as requested change involve a costs. But the charge must be reasonable. If some firms only need to charge £10 for making an adjustment to a policy, or for cancelling it, then companies charging five times as much are profiteering.
Gordon Morris of Age UK Enterprises says: "It is frustrating that some companies are clearly using unfair charges as a way of making money because they're continuing to charge for initial administration fees, duplicating documents and simply changing the name on a policy.
"It is no wonder the industry suffers from little trust when companies continue to levy charges on unassuming customers."
Quite so. Hidden fees are simply a sneaky way to charge people more. And many firms that offer apparently cheap deals rely on the hidden charges to claw in much more money from suckers like us.
My advice is to avoid them, or to check the small print very closely before signing up, so you know just how much it really will cost you. According to Which?, companies to be wary of, because they have several hidden charges, are: I-Kube (aimed at young drivers), American Express, Auto Direct, Cover Direct and Donatesomeback.com.
- 1 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 2 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Vote Ukip, says far-right group Britain First
iJobs Money & Business
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...
£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...
£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Financial Services - The C...
Day In a Page
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station