Barclays tops the hall of shame for the most banking complaints per customer.

Figures from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) names the giant as the bank which not only received the most official gripes during the second half of last year but, tellingly, which had the most per 1,000 accounts.

It received 205,151 complaints in that period, which equates to 5.6 for every 1,000 accounts.

In complete contrast, Nationwide had only two complaints per 1,000, meaning it came out best of the major current account providers.

Santander closely followed Barclays receiving the second most banking complaints and five per 1,000.

The figures released today are not new as each bank has already revealed its stats separately. However, they are a collation of that data to help consumers make comparisons.

Over the final six months of 2010 there were 1,795,182 complaints against financial firms across all product sectors, up 3% from the 1,738,778 figure for the previous half-year.

The table below shows how each major current account provider fared between June and December last year.

Banking Complaints – 2nd half 2010
Provider Complaints per 1,000 accounts Total complaints
Barclays 5.6 205,151
Santander 5 165,052
Natwest 4 87,271
RBS 3 30,218
HSBC 2.4 58,392
Lloyds (i) 2.1 152,182
Nationwide 2 43,663
(i) Includes Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Lloyds TSB.

Upheld complaints

Not only did Barclays have the most complaints per customer, it also has a relatively high proportion upheld in the consumer's favour by the independent Financial Ombudsman Service.

This demonstrates that it unfairly rejects many complaints given consumers must first approach their provider before involving the Ombudsman if they are turned away.

The arbitrator upheld 45% of complaints against Barclays in the second half of last year, making it the the second worst performer in that category after Halifax/Bank of Scotland (47%).

Oliver Morgans, from lobby group Consumer Focus, says: "These figures show a double whammy on customer complaints about the banking industry.

"Not only have total complaints risen to almost 1.8 million, upheld complaint levels have increased too. Nearly ten thousand complaints a day suggests the tide hasn't turned and this is simply because banks aren't treating their customers fairly."

"The Government is consulting on how the regulator can tackle the way financial products are designed, marketed and sold. Today's figures make a powerful for case for why such action is desperately needed."

In a bad year for complaints at Barclays, it was fined £7.7 by the FSA in January and ordered to pay £60 million in compensation for mis-selling investments.

Barclays Global Retail Banking chief executive Antony Jenkins says: "We are working hard to identify the root causes of our complaints and put in place solutions to permanently fix the problems.

"Our customers can be reassured we are making progress and are taking action to address the reasons our customers complain. Customers can expect to see improvements in our service in 2011."

Further reading/Key links

Ombudsman guide: Financial Fight Back
Reclaim mis-sold debt insurance: PPI Reclaiming
Other issue-specific reclaim guides: Credit Card Charges, Direct Debits, Setting Off, Mortgage Arrears, Endowment Mis-selling