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Santander customer service improves, as Bank of Scotland sinks

Jamie Stinson
MSE News Reporter
13 February 2013

Santander has shaken off the unwanted tag of being the worst bank for customer service, replaced by Bank of Scotland and Halifax. What's more, Santander's 123 current account in isolation now ranks as one of the best, in a poll of 9,500 MoneySavingExpert.com users.

This is the first time since we began running these polls in August 2010 that the Spanish giant has been off the foot of the table, though it is still fourth worst overall.

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Some 22% of rock-bottom Bank of Scotland's customers rate its service as poor, closely followed by sister bank Halifax.

Meanwhile, we split out Santander's top-paying 123 current account from the rest of the bank, on the back of good reports. A large 63% voted its service great, which, had it been a bank in its own right, would have made it fourth best.

It offers 3% in-credit interest on the whole balance if you have between £3,000 and £20,000, while it pays up to 3% cashback on everyday bills (see Santander 123 analysis).

First Direct yet again topped the survey, followed, as usual, by Co-op Bank and Nationwide.

Nearly all banks' poor ratings are falling, while their great ratings are rising. Here are the results.

Current account service ratings — the worst
(Aug 2012 in brackets)
Rank Provider (no of votes) Poor OK Great
1 Bank of Scot (216) 22% (23%) 43% (44%) 35% (34%)
2 Halifax (922) 19% (18%) 43% (49%) 38% (33%)
3 RBS/NatWest (1,272) 16% (24%) 44% (43%) 40% (33%)
4 Santander (1,491) 19% (23%) 37% (42%) 44% (32%)
5 Barclays (707) 14% (16%) 45% (47%) 41% (37%)
6 HSBC (700) 14% (15%) 44% (43%) 42% (42%)
7 Lloyds TSB (1,045) 14% (16%) 42% (45%) 44% (39%)
Figures may not hit 100% due to rounding. Ratings calculated using 0 points for poor, 1 for OK, 2 for great.

Current account service ratings — the best
(August 2012 in brackets)
Rank Provider (no of votes) Great OK Poor
1 First Direct (1,082) 91% (91%) 7% (7%) 2% (1%)
2 Co-op, incl Smile (722) 78% (79%) 18% (17%) 4% (4%)
3 Nationwide (1,149) 66% (61%) 28% (33%) 6% (7%)
4 Santander 123 (519) 63% (n/a) 28% (n/a) 9% (n/a)
Figures may not hit 100% due to rounding. Ratings calculated using 0 points for poor, 1 for OK, 2 for great.

Dan Plant, MoneySavingExpert.com web editor, says: "The message is simple. If you're fed up with rotten service then switch. Don't put up with being treated poorly.

"The switching process should get easier later this year, but it is not difficult now. The good news is our two top picks, Santander 123 and First Direct, rate well for service (see the Best Bank Accounts guide for the best deals)."

Seven-day current account switching should be in place in September, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed last week.

Charlotte Hogg, Santander head of retail distribution, says: "It's really encouraging the vast majority of our 123 current account customers report great service, and much smaller percentages of all customers report poor service.

"We're continuing to make changes and it is our aim that by this time next year we'll be reporting even better service."

A Bank of Scotland and Halifax spokesman says: "We are disappointed the level of importance Bank of Scotland and Halifax place on providing excellent customer service has not been captured within this survey.  

"Getting customer service right is at the heart of the group's strategy to be the best bank for customers.  

"The level of banking complaints is a strong indicator of the service and recent industry figures continue to show that across the group, relative to the number of customers, we have fewer complaints than any other bank."

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