Only 1 in 5 of the participants in a recent trial was successful in opening a bank account with a new bank and switching a standing order, based on the process outlined in the Common Principles on Bank Account Switching, a self-regulatory initiative from the European Banking Industry Committee (EBIC).
The survey was performed across all 27 EU countries on behalf of DG SANCO (Health & Consumers), and led by GfK EU3C, the European Custom Research and Coordination Centre of GfK, using mystery shopping to monitor the effectiveness of the EBIC initiative. More than 900 enquiries were made, using different communication channels (branch visit, on line, telephone) as well as 400 effective attempts at switching bank account.
The main findings of the study can be summarized as follows:
81% of mystery shoppers had problems switching and identified the following weaknesses
71% of the banks would not assist in the transfer (therefore they were not following the procedures outlined in the Common Principles).
7% of the banks did not open the account and/or switch the standing order within fourteen working days.
3% of the mystery shoppers found that the new bank refused to open a standard account. For example, shoppers were told they would set up their salary to pay into the new account, in order to open it.
Provision of information by the banks was also perceived as an issue. 86% of mystery shoppers who enquired about a switch either in-branch, online or by telephone did receive information from at least one source, but the level of information received varied widely. More worryingly, 14% of the mystery shoppers received no information at all, with the study revealing a low level of awareness about switching among bank staff.