The most recent complaint report from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows a big spike in complaints over last year. Compared to 2015, complaints related to bank accounts are up 26%. In the governmental agency’s three-month rolling average for August 2016, it is now receiving nearly 2,400 complaints about bank accounts per month versus less than 1,900 just 12 months ago.
“Deposit accounts are an essential component of millions of consumers’ financial lives,” said Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, in a statement. “We are concerned that consumers continue to face difficulties accessing and managing this cornerstone financial tool. Consumers who are eligible for a deposit account should be able to get one and use it effectively.”
Two banks receive more complaints than any other. Bank of America has averaged 808 per month of late, and Wells Fargo isn’t much better at 796 complaints per month. The next highest are JPMorgan Chase (729), Citibank (646), Ocwen (343), Capital One (327), and Nationstar Mortgage (312).
The difficulty of opening an account, overdraft policies, and fees continue to frustrate banking customers more than anything else. Among the largest issues is the lack of clarity on when funds will be made available and how long deposits will remain on hold, particularly those involving checks.
“Consumers continue to describe issues related to overdraft policies and fees, including the amount and frequency of fees and the reordering of transactions from high to low by dollar amount, which maximizes these fees,” Joy Hackenbracht, of the Consumer Banking Project at the Pew Charitable Trusts, told NBC.
Research has shown that, contrary to popular belief, outsourcing operations has proven to be an effective way to improve customer service. Frost & Sullivan, a San Antonio, Texas-based management consultant firm, unveiled a study late last year that looked into financial services companies that have pushed more of their back office processing and customer service operations to a third party.
In many cases, it turns out that external specialists in these areas can handle the load better, and with a higher approval rating, than banks do. “Companies in this sector have started to realize the growing importance of improving back office processes to increase productivity, efficiency, and ultimately the level of customer satisfaction with the entity providing them services,” said Juan Gonzalez, Frost & Sullivan’s research manager for digital transformation.