Complaints by bank customers continue to soar: Vivien Goldsmith reports on the growing number of banking grievances and looks at individual cases

COMPLAINTS against banks soared again this year to just over 10,000. The Banking Ombudsman, Laurence Shurman, reported that the 60 per cent increase followed a 62 per cent rise last year.

More than a third (37 per cent) of the complaints handled by the Ombudsman were resolved in the complainant's favour.

Charges and interest headed the list of complaints, but many of these were held to be outside the scope of the Ombudsman. Of the cases investigated, cash machines and cheque guarantee cards topped the list of grievances.

The code of banking practice introduced at the beginning of this year, which limits customers' liability in cases of stolen cash cards to pounds 50, should help to alleviate some of the complaints.

Mr Shurman does not believe in 'phantom' withdrawals from cash machines. 'What we have found is evidence of fraud - usually someone who is known to the complainant. But we have to be alert because fraud has struck from other sources. The way forward has to be to combat fraud.'

He suggested the banks could do more to combat the losses of about pounds 166m last year from plastic card fraud. He would like customers to be able to choose their personal identification number (PIN) so that there would be less need to write it down.

He also proposed the introduction of photographs on cards, videos installed at cash machines, biometric identification which makes a physical check on fingerprints, and the use of the PIN in shop transactions.

Of the 772 completed investigations, compensation was paid ranging from pounds 100 to pounds 10,000.

Mr Shurman was sometimes willing to award compensation for 'real botheration, distress, anxiety or embarrassment'. He said that customers choose a bank because they believe it will deliver an efficient, trouble-free service, and if the bank fails to keep up standards then they should be entitled to fair compensation.

But only in rare cases was he willing to award complainants compensation for their own time spent pursuing a complaint. If a customer had to take time off work to sort out a problem and lost money, then it was reasonable to expect compensation. But time spent at home writing letters would rarely be counted when a compensation payment was made. When customers' own time was valued it was costed at between pounds 5 and pounds 10 an hour.

General interest rate policies were a matter for individual banks, so these complaints were not pursued by the Ombudsman. As long as the bank levied charges in line with its printed tariff there was little scope for a complaint.

But Mr Shurman said there was 'a certain lack of logic' in some bank actions - for instance dishonouring a small item of, say, pounds 20, because of insufficient funds, and then charging the customer pounds 25 for the privilege. 'Computerised fee-billing which gives rise to situations of this type understandably does not endear banks to their customers,' he said.

Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

PMLD Teaching Assistant Required - Nottingham

£50 - £60 per day: Randstad Education Nottingham: We are currently looking to ...

IT Support Technician (2nd Line / Server Support) - Bedford

£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...


£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
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