04.Bank satisfaction results
The introduction of low-fee transaction accounts last year seems to have had a positive effect: the great majority of institutions achieved higher satisfaction scores than last year.
- Teachers Credit Union had the highest overall satisfaction rating for transaction accounts, and also scored the highest satisfaction rating for customer service, product range, internet and phone banking facilities. Teachers also improved its ATM access score after NAB joined the RediATMs network, giving credit union customers access to free transactions at the combined 3000+ Redi and NAB ATMs nationwide.
- Banks came bottom of the table, with the lowest overall satisfaction recorded by Westpac. NAB, which came bottom last year, deservedly improved its ranking, becoming the first bank to cut penalty fees and introducing a low-fee bank account that was judged worthy of a CHOICE Award.
As with transaction accounts, Teachers Credit Union scored highest overall, with a very impressive 90%. Teachers also scored highest for customer service and internet banking facilities. CBA rated lowest for overall satisfaction, slightly behind Westpac and ANZ.
Compared with 2009, the overall satisfaction was lower for all institutions. One reason could include cuts to rewards program points, such as changes to the Qantas program in early 2009. One survey respondent was unhappy with the “compulsory switch to Qantas Frequent Flyer program – which I will never use”.
Interest rates were another reason for dissatisfaction among survey participants as banks increased their interest rate margins. ”My ‘low rate’ credit card interest rate seems to increase on a monthly basis from its original position of just below 10%,” said one member.
Credit unions had the highest overall satisfaction rating, the highest ratings for annual fees, penalty fees, interest rates, foreign exchange and overseas fees, as well as for calculating and applying interest when customers don’t pay on time or in full. Amex had by far the highest satisfaction score for reward programs.
Since 2009, non-bank lenders recorded an average increase overall, with banks now rating below non-bank lenders. Members Equity Bank home loan customers were the most satisfied, scoring highest for fairness in passing on Reserve Bank interest rate increases or decreases, variable interest rates and annual fees.
Close behind were credit unions and ING Direct, the second-highest-rating institution. The lowest overall satisfaction score recorded was for Westpac, slightly behind CBA, NAB and ANZ. Westpac’s large increase in interest rates above the Reserve Bank’s rate in December last year would likely be one key explanation for this.