6 million unhappy customers

CURRENT ACCOUNTS
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The Independent Online
CURRENT ACCOUNTS

More than 6 million bank customers are dissatisfied with the way their current accounts are handled, according to a survey published this week by Abbey National.

But some 60 per cent of dissatisfied customers cannot be bothered to take their business elsewhere because they believe the products and services offered by other banks and building societies are no different.

The factors that most upset customers are penalty charging and charges for other services, such as stopping cheques. Other gripes include the low rate of interest paid on accounts in credit and fees charged for arranging overdrafts.

About 4 million people, 67 per cent of those dissatisfied, have become so disillusioned with their existing banking relationships that they have thought about switching to another bank or building society. However, of those, almost three-quarters have been procrastinating about the move for up to two years.

Only half of those who have considered moving their accounts have gone to the trouble of obtaining information on competitive services. But most are unaware of telephone helplines and other services provided by rival banks and building societies, which are designed to make switching easier.

The survey reveals that almost two-thirds of personal customers have stayed with the bank where they opened their first account. Switching accounts tends to be more predominant among men and in the 25-to-34 age group. Again, the main reasons for switching were excessive charging and the imposition of charges without warning. But 17 per cent of those who had moved said they did so because of slow service in their branches.

The survey estimates that there are 36 million accounts in the UK, with nearly 80 per cent of all adults holding a current account. Customers are distributed across all age groups and social classes.

The survey questioned 1,012 people over 16 years old.

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