Same old, same old…


All this bank-bashing gets tedious, doesn’t it? it’s difficult to stop doing it, though, when the banks keep on giving us cause.

Look at the way that banks handle complaints: in a six month period, HSBC customers referred 12,429 complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service. These were complaints that the bank had rejected, because it considered that they had no merit. The Ombudsman found in favour of the customer in 78% of cases.

All of those cases could have been resolved by the bank, if it had had the will. Instead, it was happy for the Ombudsman to do the bank’s complaints-handling for it. How cynical! It’s a powerful indication of the bank’s attitude toward its customers.

HSBC isn’t alone in this. It’s simply standing at the pinnacle of this heartless, grasping industry.

None of this stops banks themselves complaining, of course. They feel particularly hard done by at the moment.

The Financial Conduct Authority is trying to take the first steps in tidying up these shambolic organisations. One of its suggestions is that named managers should be responsible for implementing the necessary changes in their bank’s systems. Oh, horror! How can this be? A manager held responsible! We’ll all be ruined!

Senior managers have duly complained. They will expect to have their complaints heard. They will hope that the FCA will change its mind. How dare they? Would they respond to a customer’s complaint by changing their systems? Fat chance.

Not that these systems aren’t long overdue for an overhaul. We all know that there is a thriving bank fraud sector, because criminals can so easily circumvent the pitiful security of most banks. What isn’t so clear is how big this problem actually is.

If the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales included bank and credit card fraud, the figures would go up by almost 50%, or 4 million cases. That’s an awful lot of crime to leave out of the figures.

I’ll bet that you thought that this sort of theft would already be included. I certainly did. Why is it left out? I could be uncharitable, and suggest that these crimes are kept out of the statistics because the powers-that-be don’t want us to know that banks’ funds are being pumped into criminals’ pockets on an industrial scale.

The Office for National Statistics gives a different explanation, and I’m prepared to believe it:

There are a number of reasons to leave these crimes out of the figures, including the difficulty of knowing who has been robbed. Is it the bank? Is it the customer? It’s just too difficult to be sure.

It’s this lack of clarity that some banks exploit to their profit. If it’s impossible to know who was the victim of the crime, they’ll decide that it’s not the bank. This means that it can avoid reimbursing the customer, who will just have to trot off to the police to see if they can do anything about it.

This is one of the reasons why one bank will make good the losses of a customer who has been defrauded via it’s systems, and another will not. It’s all on a whim. Oh, what power!

So there you have it. As long as the banks remain blind to the results of their actions, or inaction, and indifferent to the well-being of their customers, we’re going to keep on taking them to task.



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