Banks that fail poor to be named and shamed

Banks that fail poor to be named and shamed


 


By Heather Greig-Smith


Regeneration magazine


30.11.04


 


 


Banks that fail to improve their basic service for low income customers will be named and shamed early next year, banking code monitors warned this week.


 


The Banking Code Standards Board (BCSB) last week published its third report on basic bank accounts. It involved ‘mystery shopping’ – where banks and building societies offering the accounts were tested to see how easy it is to open them.


 


While some banks have improved, the report found mixed results. Only 54 per cent of the assessors were able to open an account without difficulty, with the worst performing bank only achieving a rating of 27 per cent. BSCB head of compliance Paul Smith said the board would keep a close eye on the banks’ performance. ‘We’re intending to go back and do a further piece of work early next year. If, by that time, they haven’t achieved adequate standards then yes we will [name them],’ he said.


 


Problems identified in the report included a lack of account literature in branches, customers being offered more complex products with borrowing facilities, unnecessary credit checks and a lack of flexibility in accepting alternative forms of identification.


 


The BCSB graded three banks as ‘red’, with major shortcomings, seven ‘amber’, with some issues to address, and six ‘green’, broadly or fully meeting the code’s standards.


 


The National Consumer Council (NCC) said the BCSB board should name and shame banks offering unacceptable levels of service as soon as possible.


 


NCC chief executive Ed Mayo said: ‘Consumers need to know which banks are up to scratch and will open a basic account for them efficiently and painlessly. They also need to know which banks to avoid.’


 


The survey was published in the same week that Treasury financial secretary Stephen Timms said it would be possible to legislate to force banks to open accounts for everyone


 


Survey of Subscribers Providing Basic Bank Accounts is available at


www.bankingcode.org.uk/wpdocs/Basic%20Accounts%20Report.doc


 


Source: Regeneration magazine