More clarity needed from banks over fees and charges

RBS faces a high level of dissatisfaction from customers
RBS faces a high level of dissatisfaction from customers

Banks still need to do more to improve their day-to-day services, particularly when it comes to being clear about fees and charges, according to a customer satisfaction survey.

Which? found several of the biggest banks - such as Ulster Bank owner RBS, NatWest and HSBC - came out bottom of its customer survey, while HSBC’s brand First Direct was rated top.

The consumer group made the findings after asking nearly 5,000 customers to rate various aspects of the service offered by their current account providers.

This included customer service, communication, complaints handling, transparency of charges and penalties, service in branch and telephone, online and mobile banking. Providers were then given an overall score.

RBS came bottom, with an overall customer score of 54%, with HSBC given a score of 56% and NatWest a score of 57%. First Direct regularly tops customer satisfaction surveys, but Which? said it “may not be for everyone” as it does not have physical branches.

Which? found fees and charges are still a “mystery” to many customers, with no provider in the survey given a maximum score.

The consumer group has a campaign called “stop sneaky fees and charges,” which urges financial firms to put an end to hidden and hard-to-compare costs.

The research also suggested that banks’ mobile and online services are improving, with several major providers receiving maximum scores on this aspect of their service.

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.”