Bank fined £2.8m over customer complaint failings

Royal Bank of Scotland has been fined £2.8m for "multiple failings" in the way it handled customers' complaints, the City watchdog said yesterday.

The Financial Services Authority said the part-nationalised bank responded inadequately to more than half of all the complaints it reviewed.

It said there was a "high risk" that customers of both RBS and its NatWest brand may not have been treated fairly due to a catalogue of failings in the bank's approach to handling routine complaints.

These failings included delays in responding to customers and poor quality investigations into complaints, with complaints handlers failing to obtain and take into account all relevant information when making a decision.

The group also issued correspondence which failed to fully address all of the concerns raised by customers.

Customers were also not given information on their right to refer their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service within the appropriate time period.

Overall, the FSA said 53 per cent of the cases it reviewed showed deficient complaint handling, while in 62 per cent of cases the bank failed to follow FSA rules on giving people information on the Financial Ombudsman Service and in 31 per cent of cases it did not demonstrate fair outcomes for consumers.

The regulator said the bank did not give staff adequate training and guidance on how to properly handle a complaint. It also failed to monitor complaint handling in branches and the management information produced was not enough to assess whether customers were being treated fairly.

The chief executive of UK Retail, Wealth and Ulster Bank at RBS, Brian Hartzer, said: "We recognise the importance of complaint handling for our customers and are focused on addressing the root causes of complaints."