One of the big questions in financial services is whether the industry treats its customers fairly. This really matters, as we all need a well functioning and fair financial services industry. Since we launched Smart Money People, we have been asking our reviewers if they feel that they have been treated fairly. Here is what they have told us:

82% of all customers feel that they have been treated fairly

10% told us that they had not been treated fairly

8% told us that they were “not sure”

What really stands out for us is that just 8% of Smart Money People reviewers were not sure if they had been treated fairly – meaning that 92% of all customers feel that they know if they have been treated fairly or otherwise.

What does being treated unfairly really mean?

Whether a customer feels fairly treated or not is of course pretty subjective. We have dived into our Smart Money People customer reviews to find the main reasons why customers feel unfairly treated.

The 3 reasons why customers feel unfairly treated

1) Poor customer service (largely focused around communication issues and staff attitude)

Common themes included surly or disinterested branch staff and the difficulty around resolving issues. Poor communication was a major bug bearer and was a key theme from our recent  guest post from the Financial Services Ombudsman. The TSB review below shows how much frustration a lack of communication can create. We wonder if Montana escalated this to a TSB complaint, or just gave up entirely on the process?

2) Removal of benefits / expectations not being met

Changing product terms and conditions (T&Cs) particular when this includes removing access to benefits that may have enticed a customer to select the product in the first place, as was changing servicing models (for example, making forms of premier or gold banking a little less golden) proved a significant source of irritation.

A number of reviews were also unhappy that their loyalty was not being rewarded. For this group of customers, there is a clear expectation that their brand loyalty should be rewarded. Again, did stevend go on to write a NatWest complaint?

3) Poor interest rates

This proved to be a very common issue with many saving products (in particular cash ISAs). Many savers are quite unhappy with the best rates they can get in the current marketplace.

Not all products are the same when it comes to the customer perception of being treated fairly. See below how our reviewers rated these four popular products:

% Of customers treated fairly

88% of car insurance customers

85% of current account customers

80% of credit card customers

73% of mortgage customers


10% of all customers feel that they are unfairly treated. Is that an acceptable percentage? Well, we are not sure.

What we do know is that customer reviews can provide some pretty powerful insight, and ultimately, provide the knowledge that can help chip away at the 10% figure.

Our mission is to use the power of customer reviews to help increase trust and transparency in financial services. You can help join us by writing one now!