UK banks struggling to handle current account charge claims

UK banks struggling to handle current account charge claims

One in fourteen requests for copy statements in pursuit of claims for a refund of bank charges are not being met within the regulatory 40-day limit, according to a survey by document management vendor Anacomp.

In a study of over 30 UK institutions that offer current account facilities, new research from document services specialist Anacomp found that one in fourteen requests for copy statements in pursuit of claims for refund of bank charges cannot be answered within the regulatory 40 day limit. In addition, if just half of the people entitled to make a claim that have not already, do so, then this figure will rise to one in every nine requests not being answered within the designated timeline.

During the end of 2006 and early 2007, statements from the Office of Fair Trading, coupled with journalistic and lobby group voices, have caused the current consumer furore over banks making substantial profits through allegedly 'unfair' bank charges. The overall number of people believed to be in the process of making a claim is thought to be around 1.9 million and under UK and Scottish law, claims may be made going back six years.

All UK banks have archived records going back this far – in fact they have to keep records over a much longer period. However, Anacomp says it thinks banks didn't anticipate this situation and that document management systems at some institutions can't cope quickly enoough with the sudden volume of requests, leading to unhappy customers and negative press.

But the vendor says some banks are taking the situation seriously, and are contemplating one of two investment areas to cope with the growing statement request volumes. Some are meeting the peak by either duplicating their microfilm archive and employing more people to handle the requests, or digitising six years worth of statements for ultra-rapid retrieval.

More strategically-minded banks, it says, are not seeing the current reclaim peak as an isolated incident, and are investing in systems that allow a free-flow between microfilm archive and short-term digital systems, so that spikes in enquiry demand can be rapidly accommodated without massive tactical cost in the future.

Not surprisingly, Simon Stammers, UK Sales Director of Anacomp, says that banks are therefore facing increasing pressure to upgrade their document management systems. "Many banks are taking very positive steps towards meeting this huge increase in statement requests. Our research shows however that the situation at present remains unsatisfactory, as many requests are not being answered within the regulatory period."

Stammers adds, "Although some banks have managed to comply with the current volume of requests by duplicating their entire microfilm archive and then employing more staff to answer incoming queries, this may not prove to be adequate if volumes rise. This is why some banks are wisely investing in a more long-term solution so they will be able to cope in the future if a similar situation were to arise."

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