Banks have been forced to put up posters in branches that reveal how they rank on customer service compared with rivals.
But some High Street branches are using sneaky tactics to hide this crucial information, Money Mail can reveal.
One TSB branch failed to display the new league table at all, while other banks printed the results on paper four times smaller than official guidelines.
Tucked away: The poster in a NatWest branch showing that eight banks are ranked above it for overall service
A NatWest branch in South Kensington, London, went as far as to place a large, red lamp in front of the poster it had fixed to the wall (pictured).
It meant customers had little chance of noticing that eight other banks have been ranked above it for overall service.
Some, such as Metro Bank, displayed the information on electronic screens that change after just 20 seconds, moving on to advertise their savings and currency exchange rates.
Each year, only 3 per cent of customers switch their current account, even though they could typically save £92 by doing so, a report in 2016 by the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) showed.
To make it easier for people to compare providers, banks have been told by the competition watchdog to publish the results of a survey of 16,000 customers.
Customers were asked how likely they were to recommend their bank’s overall service, overdraft facilities, online and mobile banking and service in branches to friends and family.
The results will be updated twice a year, in February and August.
Adam Land, senior director at the CMA, says: ‘For the first time, people will be able easily to compare banks on the quality of the service they provide, and so judge if they’re getting the most for their money, or if they could do better elsewhere.’
Royal Bank of Scotland scored joint worst with Clydesdale Bank out of 16 banks and building societies on overall customer service. Both received a score of 49 per cent.
Fewer than half of the taxpayer-backed bank’s current account customers said they would recommend it to a friend or relative.
RBS was also ranked bottom for service by its small business customers, with just 47 per cent saying that they would recommend its business current account.
HSBC-owned First Direct came top of the table, with 85 per cent of customers saying they would recommend the bank. Metro Bank and Nationwide were in second and third places, with scores of 83 per cent and 73 per cent.
Royal Bank of Scotland scored joint worst with Clydesdale Bank out of 16 banks and building societies on overall customer service
Just six in ten customers said they would recommend Lloyds, NatWest, which is part of the RBS group, and TSB.
When it came to overdrafts, Nationwide dropped to fifth place, with Metro Bank voted top, followed by First Direct. Britain’s biggest building society came fourth for online and mobile banking services.
For small business accounts, Handelsbanken came top with a score of 84 per cent.
All of the results must be prominently displayed in branches and on the banks’ websites and mobile apps.
There are nine categories in total: four relate to personal banking and five to business accounts.
Banks must show the top five firms in each category, and — if they’re not in the top five — their own position in relation to this.
Official guidelines say customers must be able easily to see the information, which it would expect to be printed on paper of size A2 or bigger.
The regulator said that if there are space constraints, A4 posters in frames standing on counters may be acceptable — but only if most of their customers used these counters.
If the results appear on an electronic screen, then they should be displayed long enough for customers to ‘absorb the depth of information’.
The majority of bank and building society branches that Money Mail visited had placed posters near branch entrances or in obvious places, such as on counters. But experts say all branches must play by the rules.
Top for overdrafts: Metro Bank, followed by First Direct
James Walker, founder of Resolver, the automated complaints system, says: ‘There’s a reason why banks have been told to display this information in branches. Many older and vulnerable customers do not have access to the internet or mobile banking apps. The creative ways that the banks have used to avoid prominently displaying these notifications just goes to show how reluctant some are to share the data with customers.
‘It’s vital we all take time to look for the posters and the information on them when we visit the branch.’
New rules introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) mean banks must also publish details of what services they offer, when their helplines are available, and the number of major operational and security incidents they have experienced on their websites.
Lloyds Banking Group, which includes Halifax and Bank of Scotland, for example, reported 19 operational incidents between April and June. A spokesman says the majority were minor issues which customers would not even notice.
From February next year, banks will also have to publish how long it takes to open a current account and to replace debit cards.
Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, says: ‘Getting a good deal isn’t just about pricing. It’s also important for customers, including individuals and small businesses, to be able to judge the quality of service around their current account and to see if other providers could offer something that suits them better.’
An RBS spokesman says: ‘We are aware we have more work to do to improve our service standards and deliver a better experience for our customers.
‘We apologise that in one of our branches the poster was temporarily obscured. This has now been rectified and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.’
A Clydesdale Bank spokesman says: ‘We would like to have ranked higher, as our customers are at the heart of everything we do. We are continually working to enhance our customer service.’
A TSB spokesman says it is sorry for the short delay in putting up the service quality metrics in its branch, and adds they are now displayed prominently.
A Metro Bank spokesman says it has taken on board the feedback and doubled the length of time the results are displayed on its digital screens.
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