Satisfied bank customer?

August 3, 2010

We’re wondering who is.

We see bailed-out banks returning to profit at the same time as headlines about others still refusing to lend. The personal finance pages are bristling with stories about mortgage famine . Big businesses may have been overcharged for banks’ services in raising new equity capital;  lending to smaller businesses is down, and the interest offered on savings is so derisory, would-be savers are being pushed into taking more risk to try to preserve their capital.

What are we missing? What is the magic ingredient that makes you as a customer happy with your bank? Or are we right in thinking “customer satisfaction” is a figment of executive imagination? Tell us your stories.


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I think Customer Satisfaction is a wrong terminology to use for banks. Lets say I walk into a branch asking for a personal loan of £5000. If the bank offers me that amount then I will be happy. If they offer me £10k for a much lesser interest, I will be delighted. Now say I fail to pay back for a genuine reason. If the bank writes off the loan, once again I will be delighted. If they extend the period, I will be satisfied. But in reality, may be <1% can get such a deal. Rest 99% are going to be unhappy with their bank.

A better terminology would be "Not so greedy". Like dont sell overdrafts and other loans to vulnerable people. Surely, just by looking at a monthly statement we can say if the person would be capable of meeting his repayments.

Secondly, have some common sense. For example, you can subscribe to paperless statements. But printed statements are not accepted during visa renewal. Try walking to a bank to get an official statement. Again less than 5% might be successful with that.

Posted by prabhus | Report as abusive

My bank (Santander) robbed me of £700 in intrest by dropping the intrest rate on my ISA from 3.75% to 0.1%. The FSA and FSO have so far been of little help in resolving this theft! I hope to return this favour by taking all my business else where and also hopefull destroying their reputation with anyone and every one I know. They may have robbed me of a few hundred pound but I will ensure that they lose several thousand pounds over the coming years!

Posted by Lloydy | Report as abusive

I’m not surprised that banks have returned to profits. Take for instance the Halifax who regularly mail me offers of loans at a best rate of 16% APR. So they’re borrowing money at a rate of 0.5% PA and lending it out at 16%.

So the bank is using a margin of 15.5% when lending money in this way. This isn’t reasonable to my mind – it is simply theft. Of course it’s a theft that probably many ‘customers’ will sign up for.

My other gripe is that I’m fed up of having to move my savings into new accounts every year just to get a rate of interest that approaches the rate of inflation (before tax).

So the banks make huge profits this way and then from what I read, don’t even treat their shareholders respectfully, but rather pay 50% of their profits to their top managers & bankers.

Shocking – I’m disillusioned with all banks and await a sensible alternative.

Posted by ActionDan | Report as abusive

In this current situation, the banks are robbing us blind – assisted by the Bank of England.

Take the Halifax who regularly offer me loans at 16% APR. That’s about 15.5% above what they’re paying for the money.

Surely any fool could run a “business” that pays them 15.5% a year for borrowing a chunk of money and lending it out again.

Posted by ActionDan | Report as abusive

Thanks for these — anyone see any benefit in promised new banks? And are supermarkets any better?

Posted by saraledwith | Report as abusive

Perhaps what we are missing is a realistic set of expectations? Another contrast which you didn’t mention was that one the one hand we have government politicians excoriating the banks for lending to bad risks, and on the other hand we have government politicians excoriating the banks for not lending just as much as they did when they were lending to bad risks. (At least with a coalition these politicians can come from two different parties.)

As a recent set of graphs in The Independent illustrated, the “shortfall” in lending is almost exactly the same size as the amount of loans made at the peak of the bubble by foreign banks who were unused to the UK market. Domestic banks are – broadly – carrying as they did before the bubble.

It is only natural that in hard times marginal projects will be deemed more likely to fail than they would in a boom, and therefore will get credit on stricter terms – if at all – than the did in the boom. This happens in every recession. The time to worry would be if we had a recession where it didn’t happen.

Posted by IanKemmish | Report as abusive

I love the unicorn.
With all the world so steamed up about the behaviour of banks isn’t there any mileage in someone setting up an ethical or idealistic bank, possibly run by Greenpeace, staffed by monks or retired maths teachers? Or is the absence of any alternative bank evidence that everyone secretly loves living in a giant casino on the edge of a precipice?

Posted by Antwerp | Report as abusive

I too like the unicorn, presumably from the Narnia branch of Lloyds. I also like the option ‘Report as abusive’ which presupposes that all who feel moved to post on the subject of banks will inevitably descend into profane invective. I can only report my own experience of banking with First Direct, nigh on twenty years of near perfect harmony. The only discordant note was struck on the one occasion I badly needed a loan, when they said no. Moral – despite a glut of recent TV ads to the contrary, the banks are not your friends, and you will only be offered money when you don’t need it. Also, abuse may be the last resort of the powerless but it can also be a lot of fun. I hope the cheerful Scottish woman I spoke to at First Direct recorded my call for training purposes.

Posted by LastScenic | Report as abusive

I am satisfied with my but then again I work for them. I’m a typical worker and actually do Business Lending to small business as part of my role. Few insights from one who is not through and through corporate:

I am seeing a lot of new Businesses form but few are looking for initial capital from us, significantly less than say 3 years back. Recession is an excellent way ofsorting the wheat from the chaff; there were too many badly managed businesses where the owners just borrowed and pent their income on big salaries/divis etc to pay for pointless lifestyles. I have warned against this and lo and behold, these are the businesses crying for more money or have gone to the wall.

What are we to do? The government says ‘lend money’. The Government-run FSA says ‘no lending unless it is nailed on and your customers jump through multiple hoops or we’ll fine you and remove your licence’. Rock and a hard place if ever I saw one.

AS to making 15% on loans, this is incorrect or at least a case of statistics and sensationalism. For small loans a high APR is required just to get past the cost of setting them up. You can really only lend the money you have in term deposit and most of them are paying 3-5% and even then the savers complain…again, rock and hardplace.

Banks are businesses and are meant to make money. If you don’t like your bank, vote with your feet. Write and complain if it is a genuine case but bear in mind whatever happens, we, the banks, lose. We are responsible for the recession (not those who lied to get self-cert mortgages etc..), we are responsible for people not being able to manager their money and flouting limits and abusing cards. It’s our fault that the aforementioned cannot get the credit they crave.

You cannot force M&S to stock suits, you cannot make ASDA sell beans. The market will dictate and loans will be available to most who need them. The nature of risk is that some of those who do and would repay them will be missed; some of those who do get them will not repay.

Posted by RemsClerk | Report as abusive