RBS fined £2.8m over complaints handling

Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £2.8 million for "multiple failings" in the way it handled customers' complaints, the City watchdog said today.





The Financial Services Authority said the part-nationalised bank responded inadequately to more than half of all the complaints it reviewed.



It said there was a "high risk" that customers of both RBS and its NatWest brand may not have been treated fairly due to a catalogue of failings in the bank's approach to handling routine complaints.







These failings included delays in responding to customers and poor quality investigations into complaints, with complaints handlers failing to obtain and take into account all relevant information when making a decision.



The group also issued correspondence which failed to fully address all of the concerns raised by customers, while it did not explain why complaints had been upheld or rejected.



Customers were also not given information on their right to refer their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service within the appropriate time period.



Overall, the FSA said 53% of the cases it reviewed showed deficient complaint handling, while in 62% of cases the bank failed to follow FSA rules on giving people information on the Financial Ombudsman Service and in 31% of cases it did not demonstrate fair outcomes for consumers.



The regulator said the problems stemmed from the fact that the bank did not give staff adequate training and guidance on how to properly handle a complaint.



It also failed to monitor complaint handling in branches and the management information produced was not enough to assess whether customers were being treated fairly.



RBS also failed to ensure that complaint handlers properly reviewed complaints, taking into account all of the relevant factors.











The investigation looked at routine banking complaints lodged during 2009, and did not include complaints about controversial payment protection insurance or unauthorised overdraft charges.



It is not known exactly how many customers may have been affected but, during the period covered by the review, RBS was the second largest provider of retail banking products and services in the UK, with around 2,200 branches and 15 million customers.



Figures on the group's website show that 29,035 RBS customers and 68,589 NatWest customers complained about banking products during the second half of 2009, excluding complaints about unauthorised overdrafts.



Margaret Cole, the FSA's managing director of enforcement and financial crime, said: "We expect firms to treat customers fairly and that consumers can be confident that their complaints will be dealt with properly.



"The failure of these two high street banks to deal adequately with complaints put consumers at unacceptable risk and the fine of £2.8 million reflects this."



The regulator said RBS had co-operated fully with the investigation, and agreed to make significant changes to the way it deals with complaints, including working with an "independent skilled person" on an extensive review of all parts of its complaints handling arrangements.



The group agreed to settle at an early stage of the investigation and, as a result, it qualified for a 30% discount in its fine, without which the penalty would have been £4 million.



The problems were uncovered during an FSA review of the way the UK's major banks handle complaints.



As a result of the review, a total of five banks, of which only RBS has been named, have taken significant action to improve the way they handle complaints.



Brian Hartzer, chief executive of UK Retail, Wealth and Ulster Bank at RBS, said: "We acknowledge the findings of the FSA investigation.



"It confirmed shortcomings in our routine complaint-handling that we assessed in our own internal review and which we are committed to putting right.



"We recognise the importance of complaint handling for our customers and are focused on addressing the root causes of complaints.



"Such is our determination to get this right for our customers that complaint resolution features as one of our Customer Charter commitments."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

£24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk