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Two banks face fines over poor complaint lines

TWO British banks could be fined by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for mishandling customer complaints after the regulator published a damning verdict of lenders’ processes.

The FSA would not confirm whether one of the institutions being “referred for enforcement” was 83 per cent state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, which said in February it was being probed by the watchdog.

In a report yesterday, the FSA said more than a third of complaints it examined at high street banks were handled poorly. And nearly a fifth – 18 per cent – of grievances ended in an unfair outcome for the customer.

Five banks had weaknesses in the way they managed complaints, the FSA said. Three have been given time to turn their methods around while two could be slapped with penalties.

Dan Waters, head of conduct risk at the FSA, said: “While we found some good practice, there is clearly evidence of unacceptable standards of complaints handling.” He said changing this was “a major priority”.

Peter Vicary-Smith of Which? demanded to know which banks were being hit with fines. He added that UK banks needed to “fundamentally change the way they treat their customers” to win back public trust.