I used to work in banking, an industry whose reputation has plummeted to the point where bankers are amongst the least trusted people in the UK, keeping company with journalists and politicians, largely because their greed has taken precedence over the interests of their customers. Now ordinarily any business that treats customers that way will suffer the consequences as their market deserts them in favour of another provider. Ordinarily.
Of course when the market is fairly limited (banks having rationalised through a series of mergers and acquisitions), the players within it are so driven to match each others’ results that they mimic behaviours to the point of being indistinguishable, and the very business of moving to another provider is fraught with difficulty, why would you really need to bother about the needs of your customers. They need to bank somewhere so you have them. Often for life. Statistically you are more likely to get divorced than change your bank. Customers have been mis-sold to (a much gentler way of saying defrauded).
I can’t help but feel that there is a huge opportunity for one bank to prove themselves trustworthy and clean up. Prove being the operative word.
Ironically I left banking to move briefly to a different sector, and one which now seems to me to be every bit as dismissive of the needs of its customers as banking. Mobile telecommunications, where piling on the irony further my job title was Customer Experience Delivery Manager.
A year ago I bought a new handset in the EE outlet in Durham, and during the completion of the paperwork there was a little confusion about existing tariffs and how my account would be transferred to the new phone. My previous provider Orange having become part of EE together with T-Mobile. EE apparently standing for Everything Everywhere, a true reflection of the ubiquitous need we have for their products. Shame that the confusion led to me begin charged twice for a short while.
I instructed my bank to stop paying them, and called them again to ask when they would refund the extra amounts and given a date. The date passed without refund, but instead with letter from a debt collector chasing the duplicate payments that I had stopped!
Since then I have written to them at four different locations, begun a conversation through their Facebook page and ultimately demanded a deadlock letter so that I may obtain redress through an ombudsman. Stonewalled every time. Perhaps Everything Everywhere means I have to try everything and pursue them at every address.
At least they have stopped pursuing me for the money I don’t owe, but perhaps they think I’ll give up pursuing them for what they owe me. I don’t think so.
The banks are paying out billions in compensation for their mistreatment of customers at the moment. I can’t think of a nicer bunch of people to be follow suit.