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Banks slammed on complaints handling

Banks slammed on complaints handling

Category: Banking

Updated: 28/04/2010
First Published: 28/04/2010

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Many of the UK's high street banks have been criticised by the financial watchdog for the way they deal with complaints from consumers.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has revealed that a review looking at several banking groups responsible for more than seven in ten consumer complaints has found a number of weaknesses.

These included a lack of interest from senior staff at banks, no incentives for staff to pay compensation even when banks are at fault, and a failure to learn from mistakes leading to similar complaints a rising time and again.

It was also found that customers were forced to restate their complaint on a number of occasions, many times in the face of negative responses from providers.

The Financial Services Consumer Panel said that the issue of senior management not taking complaint handling seriously was a 'disgrace' and that the process should be made easier for consumers.

All five of the unnamed banks are undertaking major changes to the way they deal with complaints, with two of the five facing further investigation and the possibility of fines.

The FSA said that it did find examples of good practices in parts of some of the banking group's it assessed, demonstrating it is possible for banks to handle high volumes of complaints and deliver fair outcomes for customers.

"A culture of fair complaint handling is an important indicator of whether a firm is committed to treating its customers fairly. It is vital that customers know that if something goes wrong, their complaint will be dealt with in a reasonable way and that they will get a fair outcome," said Dan Waters, director of conduct risk at the FSA.

"While we found some good practice, there is clearly evidence of unacceptable standards of complaints handling in banks. Delivering change in this area is a major priority and we are determined to use all the tools available to us to ensure that banks comply with our rules."

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