Barclays Bank has become Britain's most complained about finance brand, grabbing the title from Spanish-owned Santander. According to figures issued yesterday by the Financial Services Authority, there were nearly 10,000 complaints a day about finance institutions in the last six months of 2010, with Barclays attracting 276,315 new complaints.
The bank had 205,151 banking complaints in the second half of the year, a rise of 5 per cent over the first half. Antony Jenkins, the chief executive of Barclays Global Retail Banking, said: "We are working hard to identify the root causes of our complaints and put in place solutions to permanently fix the problems, reducing or removing the need for our customers to complain."
He admitted that a key cause of complaint received by the bank had been about the lengthy time it takes to replace a debit card. "A dedicated programme of activity has reduced this from five days to 48 hours," Mr Jenkins claimed.
"A significant number of complaints" were also received about delays in changing customers' account details on the bank's system. Mr Jenkins said the process has been improved. Barclays also attracted 59,000 insurance complaints, with the remainder concerning home finance, pensions and investments.
Banks once again made up the top five most-complained about finance firms. Santander took second spot, although it saw the number of complaints it received fall to 195,475. Meanwhile Lloyds TSB had 175,892 complaints during the six-month period, Bank of Scotland (owned by Lloyds) 123,477 and Royal Bank of Scotland (under its NatWest brand) 118,765.
The figures show that banks fail to treat customers properly, according to Oliver Morgans, financial services expert at the government-funded watchdog Consumer Focus. "The spotlight has been on profits and bonuses, but today's figures indicate something is very wrong not just with customer service but with how financial products are designed and sold. The unnecessary complexity of many accounts, policies and fees often leads to customers getting a raw deal," Mr Morgans said.
Across the financial services industry the number of people complaining climed 3 per cent to more than 1.7 million. Within that, there was a 37 per cent increase in complaints about insurance to 710,000.
Sales of payment protection insurance continued to attract the bulk of complaints but the figure came as no surprise to Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith. "A 63 per cent increase in the number of PPI complaints shows the widespread mis-selling that's been going on for years," he said. "With almost half a million PPI complaints made in six months, the industry has to stop trying to wriggle out of its responsibility to customers."