Simon Read: When will the banks start listening to our fair complaints?

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.

s.read@independent.co.uk

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

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

    SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

    £320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

    Head of Audit

    To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

    Audit Manager Central Functions

    To £85,000 + banking benefits: Saxton Leigh: You will be expected to carry out...

    Credit Risk Audit Manager

    Up to £90,000 + benefits: Saxton Leigh: Credit Risk Audit Manager required to ...

    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