Customer satisfaction slips with Canadian banks: survey

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Many Canadians feel banks should do more to help their customers, according to a new survey.


The 2023 Canada Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, conducted by J.D. Power, found higher rates, mounting debt, and rising bank fees have many customers saying they are much more dissatisfied with their bank than last year.


“About 30 per cent of retail banking customers are dissatisfied with their banks,” Paul McAdam, senior director of banking and payments intelligence at J.D. Power, said in the study.


McAdam said many customers are concerned about fees, fraud and fairness, adding many Canadians under financial pressure feel their bank could be doing a lot more to help them if they’re having a difficult time.


The survey used a used a 1,000-point scale to rate the banks, and noted overall customer satisfaction among Canada’s largest banks dropped by 10 points year-over-year to 603, and declined seven points to 637 among mid-size banks.


Regarding Canada’s Big Five banks, Bank of Montreal (BMO) has taken over the top spot from Royal Canadian Bank (RBC) for customer satisfaction, now in second place, followed by CIBC, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust.


Meanwhile, Canada’s midsized banks saw Tangerine Bank take the top spot, followed by Simplii Financial, ATB Financial, Desjardins, National Bank of Canada and HSBC Bank of Canada.


The survey found that rising bank fees are one of the biggest concerns for bank customers.


“We saw Canadian consumers report increased fees this year for ABM fees, overdraft fees and monthly maintenance fees,” said McAdam.


When the survey asked how banks can better assist customers, 56 per cent said they wanted alerts about suspicious activity, 50 per cent wanted information on reducing fees, and 35 per cent wanted advice on how to save money and earn interest.


The survey comes just days after Canada’s Finance Minister, Chrystia Freeland, said she wanted to cut fees to help borrowers with higher mortgage costs.


“Our objective is to make sure our financial institutions treat them (customers) fairly,” Freeland said in Ottawa Tuesday.


Duff Conacher with Democracy Watch said it’s not enough for the federal government to ask banks to lower fees because he insists they won’t do it voluntarily.


“Just asking the banks to lower interest rates and fees isn’t going to do much,” said Conacher. “Customers recognize they are being gouged and that the banks are adding on fees and raising interest rates quickly and excessively.”


The survey also found Canadian’s satisfaction with wait times and customer service provided by bank branches, online banking and mobile apps declined.


J.D. Power surveyed 13,960 banking customers from large and mid-size banks in Canada about their experiences with financial institutions, conducting the study in two waves from January through February and July through August 2023.

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