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Britons more likely to get divorced than switch banks despite 1 in 2 claiming to be unhappy with their current service


Recent research, analysed by Mintel on behalf of the BBC’s Watchdog viewers, has underlined the general apathy amongst British consumers when it comes to seeking out a provider for their day-to-day banking needs which is in stark contrast to the growing numbers of people opting out of marriages, business partnerships and employment.

It’s a sobering fact that people in the UK who are married are more likely to get divorced than they are to switch their bank accounts even when they are extremely unhappy with the service, as demonstrated in the Watchdog survey of over 13,000 people where 1 in 2 respondents were rated as being either ‘dissatisfied or extremely dissatisfied’ with their bank’s service.

However, despite the unhappiness of a large number of high street bank customers The Co-operative Bank and its sister company internet bank smile emerged triumphant in the customer satisfaction stakes both appearing in the top trio of UK financial providers for overall service – 74 and 82 per cent respectively - with the bank being crowned the overall high street winner above Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Lloyds TSB.

Almost 60 per cent of people who took part in Watchdog’s ‘bank and building societies vote’ claimed to have been with their providers for over 10 years, with a quarter of respondents remaining faithful to their current providers for over 20 years - almost twice as long as the average length of marriage for UK divorcee’s*.

David Anderson, Chief Executive of Co-operative Financial Services said: ”It’s clear from the research that many people still wrongly assume that switching their bank account is a pointless and time consuming exercise, however this couldn’t be further from the truth - consumers should accept nothing-less than a first rate service from their provider and if they don’t get it then they should look to switch to a bank that does offer it as standard.”

Over 90 per cent of smile customers polled said that they would happily refer their current bank to family and friends, with the same number endorsing the banks ‘clear and transparent’ policies and pricing structures.

Co-operative Bank customers responded most positively in the Watchdog survey when asked whether the service had improved during their time with the bank, with almost 60 per cent of customers rating the service as ‘improved or much improved’. Conversely, a large number of the other banks in the poll scored extremely poorly in this section as an overwhelming majority of their customers claimed that the service had ‘worsened’ during their time with their provider.

Encouragingly, of those viewers questioned who had encountered a problem or complaint with their provider, a far higher percentage than average of people who banked with The Co-operative Bank or smile said that it was ‘easy or very easy to resolve’.

David Anderson added: “The results of the BBC Watchdog viewer’s poll clearly demonstrate our continued commitment to supporting our customers needs whether they choose to deal with us face-to-face, via the telephone or online.

“At Co-operative Financial Services we strongly believe that outstanding customer service is fundamental to responsible banking and should not be seen as a ‘nice to have’ – we would urge anyone who is unhappy with their current provider to consider switching their bank accounts to smile or The Co-operative Bank, where competitive products and customer satisfaction are guaranteed as our customers have testified.


Notes to Editors:

*Office for National Statistics on Marriage – average length of marriage for UK divorcees is 11.3 years
To view the full survey visit

About Co-operative Financial Services

Co-operative Financial Services (part of the Co-operative Group) is a group of businesses including The Co-operative Bank, smile – the Internet bank and Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS).

Through The Co-operative Bank, Co-operative Financial Services offers a range of financial products, from current accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, and loans. smile, the UK’s first full Internet Bank offers financial products such as current accounts, credit cards and personal loans. The Co-Operative Bank operates an ethical banking policy.

Co-operative Insurance offers a variety of products including pensions, unit trusts; investment and protection cover including car insurance and home insurance.