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Consumer financial agency wants your views on the customer service you’re getting from big banks

Wells Fargo Seattle IMG_8621The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking at how consumers can get better customer service from big banks.

Consumers have the right under federal law to get timely responses when they ask for information about their accounts at large institutions. The CFPB is interested in the obstacles that may prevent people from receiving high standards of customer service and high-quality human interactions with their banks or credit unions.

“Customers of large banks should not have to run through an obstacle course to get a straight answer about their account,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We are taking steps to ensure the legally enshrined right to obtain basic customer service.”

The agency is seeking information on:

  • What information do people request from their bank and how are they using it? What information are consumers currently unable to get from their bank?
  • Does how a person contact their bank make a difference in their ability to get information? For example, is there a difference if they visit in person, call, or go online?
  • Are there customer service obstacles that hinder their ability to get bank services?
  • Should banks disclose who they share account information with, or the payment they may receive for sharing that information?
  • What do bank customers experience for wait times, disconnected calls, the ability to speak to a person at a specific location, or the quality of responses to questions?

The 2010 Consumer Financial Protection Act gives consumers the right to get information, including supporting written documentation, about their account from a large bank or credit union with more than $10 billion in assets. Financial institutions are required to comply with these requests in a timely manner. The CFPB hasn’t enforced or issued policy guidance on this requirement yet, said Chopra. 

He said many large financial institutions are shifting toward algorithmic banking and away from relationship banking.

The decline of relationship banking has deprived some consumers of customized advice, responsiveness, and care, according to complaints filed with the CFPB. Customers report a struggle to obtain basic information and poor customer service, including that it takes too long to get problems solved, that they have to repeat information to multiple people, and that employees aren’t knowledgeable about their situation. 

Public input will help the agency develop future policy guidance and other initiatives on how big banks provide information to their customers, Chopra said.

The deadline for submitting comments to the CFPB is 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Consumers having an issue with a consumer financial product or service can submit a complaint with the CFPB online or by calling 855-411-2372.

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