10 things we hate about our banks

hate the bank

hate the bankDespite statistics showing that we are more likely to get divorced than switch current accounts, our relationships with our banks do not always run smoothly.

Here, we highlight 10 of the nation’s banking bugbears and investigate ways to beat the system.

1. Mortgages

Complaints about mortgages jumped by 38% in the last six months of 2011, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Common causes for complaint include the exit penalties imposed on some fixed and discounted deals, so watch out for these when choosing a new home loan.

2. Overdraft charges

A typical Briton with an overdraft of £1,000 forks out around £200 a year in interest alone.

If you are among them, vote with your feet and switch to an account offering cheaper overdraft rates.

3. PPI

Almost half the complaints received by the FOS in the second half of last year related to payment protection insurance (PPI), which was mis-sold to millions of unsuspecting loan, credit card and mortgage customers over the last 10 years or so.

If you believe that you were mis-sold PPI, complain to the lender concerned in writing. You can then take your complaint to the FOS if you are dissatisfied with the result.

4. Savings rates

Hard-pressed savers have been struggling with low interest rates for several years now, with many accounts paying much less than the Bank of England base rate of 0.5%.

Make sure you shop around for the best deal – especially as the best easy-access savings accounts are paying in excess of 3%.

5. Penalty fees

Going into the red without permission will cost you big-time.

Barclays, for example, charges £8 (up to a maximum of £40 a day) each time a payment is refused. So be sure to keep an eye on your balance.

6. International transfer costs

If you need to send money abroad, the likelihood is that your bank will impose charges and offer a poor rate of exchange.

The good news, however, is that you can get a better deal via currency specialists such as Moneycorp.

7. Waiting on the phone

Automated telephone banking systems and Indian call centres are one of our top bugbears.

You can avoid them by going online or calling into a branch when you need to speak to your bank.

8. Being treated like a number

Few of us have a personal relationship with our bank managers nowadays.

One way to tackle this issue is to move your account to a bank with a good reputation for customer service, such as First Direct.

9. Queues in branches

When you’re in a rush, the last thing you want to do is stand in a queue at your local branch.

Fortunately, you can improve your chances of a quick turnaround by avoiding busy times such as lunchtime.

10. Bankers’ bonuses

The bonus culture that ensures your bank’s high-flying employees receive large salaries, even when it makes a loss, is hugely unpopular with consumers.

One way to fight back is to switch your account to a building society, rather than a bank.