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Voice of the Customer

According to the latest annual Which? banking customer satisfaction survey, the majority of banks still need to do away with hidden charges and penalties.

Which? asked current account customers to rate almost 5,000 accounts for a variety of aspects of  day-to-day banking, including: how banks dealt with complaints, how clear charges and penalty fees are, services received in branch and over the phone, as well as online and mobile banking.

The research found:

  • Mobile and online services are improving: Of those banks who provide online and mobile services, five (First Direct, Nationwide, Halifax, Barclays and Natwest) scored five stars and the rest scored four stars.
  • Fees and charges are still a mystery: fourteen of the eighteen banks rated scored just two or three stars for transparency of charges and penalties and no-one scored the full five stars. It’s clear banks are still failing their customers by not being clear about charges and how much they could face in fees and penalties.
  • First Direct topped the table: with an overall customer rating of 85% and five stars in six of the areas looked at, internet bank First Direct was top rated. However as there is no in branch service offered it may not be for everyone.
  • The bottom of the table is made up of the big banks: RBS (54%), HSBC (56%), Natwest (57%), Barclays (58%) and Lloyds (59%) – all of whom scored poorly for transparency of charges and penalties; and value for money. Customers also said they could do better on customer service and communication.

Which? has long campaigned for an end to fees that are hidden, excessive or make the total cost difficult to understand and compare. Our research has found that bank charges and penalties are still not clear enough.

Vickie Sheriff, Which? Director of Campaigns and Communications, said: “Day-to-day banking is an essential part of life and dealing with your bank should be simple and straightforward. While there are positive signs in some areas, such as online and mobile banking, banks have a long way to go in making their prices clear to stop people being hit with unexpected charges. If the banks aren’t doing enough to ensure their penalty fees are fair, it is right that the regulator should step in.”

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