British banks' contempt for customers revealed as investigation finds thousands of complaints ignored

This corresponds with my experience of British banks more than a quarter of a century ago. Obviously nothing has changed.

Their arrogance is unparalleled. Combine an oligopoly with a deep British resentment of serving others and that is what you get.

That resentment is why most hotels and retailers in Britain are now in the hands of Indians. They provide service at a level which most Brits would regard as "beneath" them. The Brits would rather live on welfare and many do.

It was a grave mistake to bail out these arrogant institutions during the financial crisis. The Labor government should have allowed them to go broke and then sold them off to Indians for what little they were worth.

The British government should sell them off right now as a way of recovering the funds poured into them -- JR

Tens of thousands of legitimate complaints are being fobbed off and ignored by our High Street banks. Damning figures released yesterday by independent disputes arbitrator the Financial Ombudsman service lay bare the contempt shown by some of our biggest banks to customers who dare to complain.

The figures, which cover the six months to June 2010, show in some instances, more than nine in ten cases previously rejected by the banks are being decided in the customers’ favour.

They also come two years after taxpayers spent more than £65 billion propping up Royal Bank of Scotland/NatWest and Lloyds Banking Group.

‘Highlights’ of the FOs report include:

* A shocking 23 pc surge in complaints about insurance products, including payment protection insurance;

* A staggering 95 pc of Barclays insurance complaints upheld;

* State-backed Lloyds Banking Group received 22,420 complaints — more than a quarter of the total complaints received across more than 100,000 businesses;

* Five companies — including state-backed Lloyds TsB — received more than 3,000 complaints.

Consumer groups say the high proportion of complaints being upheld by the Ombudsman is further evidence the banks are failing to investigate grievances properly. Mark Gander from Consumer Action Group says: ‘This is proof of the disgusting way banks are dealing with disgruntled customers. ‘The whole complaints handling process is designed to exhaust customers so they give up. Incredibly, they are allowed to get away with it.’

For customers, the Ombudsman is the last resort. It can investigate complaints that have been rejected by the firm or that are not resolved within eight weeks.

Kay Blair, vice-chairman of the Financial services Consumer Panel, says: ‘It is appalling that so many High street banks continue to reject valid complaints so customers have to go to the Ombudsman for a fair assessment.

The number of overall complaints increased slightly (84,212, from 82,136) compared with the last six months of 2009. Overall, almost half (44 pc) were upheld in the customer’s favour.

There was a huge 23 pc increase in complaints about insurance policies. This was mainly driven by an increase in complaints from customers mis- sold payment protection insurance (PPI) alongside loans and credit cards. An estimated two million customers hold PPI policies they are unable to claim on.

The percentage of insurance complaints upheld against the big banks was high across the board, with more than nine in ten upheld against Barclays (95 pc) and Black Horse — part of the Lloyds Group (96 pc). More than eight in ten customers won their complaints against Lloyds TsB (86 pc) and Clydesdale Bank (89 pc).

Last year the Ombudsman accused banks of appearing to deliberately fob off complaints in the hope they go away, or using it as a cheap disputes-resolution service.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus, says the situation doesn’t seem to be improving. He says: ‘Consumers want companies to take complaints seriously and put problems right first time. These results suggest that too many companies are not taking complaints seriously and are content to leave customers to pursue problems with the Ombudsman instead.’

Overall, Lloyds- owned Black Horse was the worst culprit — nine in ten of all new complaints against the firm were upheld in the customer’s favour. It sells PPI alongside personal loans and car finance. James Daley from Which? Money says: ‘This adds insult to injury to the millions of taxpayers who have bailed out the banks.’

Barclays was one of the main offenders overall , with the Ombudsman upholding six in ten general complaints. Last year hundreds of readers who were persuaded by Barclays salesmen to invest their life savings in risky funds contacted Money Mail after their complaints were thrown out by the bank. Many of these complaints were later backed by the Ombudsman.

A British Bankers’ Association spokesman says: ‘The UK banking industry manages more than 140 million bank accounts, and the biggest conduct many billions of transactions each year, so it is important to keep these figures in context. The Ombudsman upholds only seven complaints per 100,000 products provided by banks.’


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