Banks are institutions that we love to hate.  They have received a lot of bad press over the past few years and with good reason – their behaviour is often unscrupulous, inefficient and uncaring despite what their glossy promotional adverts say.  So if you have a complaint, what can you do?
  • The days of the personal bank manager have long since gone.  The cosy chat with someone you knew is something from a bygone era.  Your “bank manager’ has been replaced by a call centre in India and a computer in Birmingham.  Take this reality on board before complaining.
  • Given the impersonal nature of banking relationships you should always go for the jugular and complain directly to the Chairman or Chief Executive who will them hopefully dump on the Customer Services team from a great height.  This is always a good start.
  • Threaten to vote with your feet very quickly.  If your gripe is serious enough make it clear that you will not hesitate to change to another bank at the drop of a hat.  Nothing less than this kind of brute force will be taken seriously.
  • If you are lucky enough to have some kind of personal account manager (usually the preserve of wealthier customers) do exploit this to the maximum but do not be afraid of going over the head of this person. Make sure that your complaint is well documented and ensure that keep a careful record of names, dates, amounts and other critical details.
  • Do not be bullied.  Banks are prone to using strong-arm tactics but it is often the case that if you stand up to them they will back down.  Sometimes it is necessary to play along game.
  • Banks absolutely hate it if you refer your dispute off to the financial services ombudsman.  This costs nothing and is a real pain for the bank concerned as the process is time-consuming and expensive for them.  For more information go to www.financial-ombudsan.org.uk or call on 0300 123 9 123 or just email your complaint to complaint.info@financial-ombudsman.org.uk.  You will probably find it easiest to go down the online route.  Do not be afraid of a two-pronged attack – so follow your own path at the same time as the ombudsman process is unlikely to produce a quick result.