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Revealed: SA’s “big five banks” ranked from best-to-worst on complaints

More than 7 000 complaints were registered against South Africa’s big five banks in 2018: Here are the best – and worst – performers of the bunch.

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We all need to know our banks are doing the most to keep our money safe and our privacy protected. But when these institutions fail to do so, they get an earful. The Banking Ombud’s annual report has been released this week, exposing the banks who receive the most complaints.

Wendy Knowler is an expert on the subject, and the consumer reporter told Radio 702’s Bruce Whitfield that 75% of grievances that are registered actually get rejected. Then, there’s something of a grey area, and only 18% of issues are ever upheld by the ruling ombudsman.

How many complaints our banks received in 2018

There were more than 7 300 complaints registered in 2018, across all of South Africa’s “big five banks” – a term that is used to describe Absa, Standard Bank, Capitec, Nedbank and FNB. Here’s who took the most flak:

  1. Absa – 1776 complaints received.
  2. FNB – 1560 complaints received.
  3. Nedbank – 1265 complaints received.
  4. Standard Bank – 1203 complaints received.
  5. Capitec – 1001 complaints received.

Absa top the list

It turns out that Absa is the most-moaned about institution of the lot, registering a higher number of complaints than any of their competitors. FNB isn’t far behind, with 226 fewer complaints than the table-toppers.

Meanwhile, Capitec comes out of the survey smelling of roses. They may have a smaller clientele than their rivals, but that perhaps works in their favour here. Standard Bank is also in the good books – relatively speaking – and received 573 fewer cases than Absa.

Most common grievances

Knowler said that fraud involving internet banking, ATM transactions and credit cards were the top three types of complaint received as a collective. She says this has contributed the high number of rejections, as the banks aren’t often liable for these actions.

“A lot of people are compromising their own safety, by doing things like giving up their details unwittingly. A lot of online scams and internet fraud cases are the subject of these grievances, where the bank cannot take responsibility.”

“People love to hate their banks. We had over 7 300 complaints registered in the last year, which is a rise of 40%. The ombudsman doesn’t want to hear from you until you’ve raised a dispute with your local branch. Go through them first, get a reference number, then take it further.”

Wendy Knowler