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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 09:30 GMT
Barclays accused over 'failings'
Barclays logo
Barclays says that it treats customers fairly
An undercover investigation by BBC One's Whistleblower programme has exposed serious customer service failings at a major High Street bank.

BBC reporter Amanda Egbujo got a job at a Barclays bank call centre in Sunderland, then a branch in Surrey.

While at Barclays, Ms Egbujo witnessed mis-selling, employees lying to customers and security failings.

Barclays said the programme's findings were not truly representative of how it treats its customers.

The Whistleblower programme launched a nine-month investigation after it had received a tip-off from a former Barclays employee.

The employee had been disgusted at what she had been asked to do when working at a Barclays call centre.

They will start shouting, being abusive, crying, start blaming you, (saying) my kids are going to starve. But my attitude is I don't know you, I don't care
Barclays trainer on customer complaints

Bank failings

During her time undercover, first at the call centre and then in the branch, Ms Egbujo found:

  • Bank employees lying and cheating to make a sale
  • Customers being misled and sold products they did not even know they had bought
  • Customers forced to pay charges deemed unlawful by some experts
  • Serious flaws in security and fraudsters at work.

In addition, while working in the call centre Ms Egbujo soon learned what were called "the tricks of the trade".

She was coached by a workmate on how to spot good customers, involving potentially offensive stereotyping.

"You can tell straight away, people like called Susan or Patricia, who are usually from Liverpool and have really rough accents, as soon as you hear their voice on the phone, 'hello', debt, she is going to have loads of it - or they want a new kitchen. Welsh men always want a new car or home improvements, Scottish people don't want to talk to you at all," the Barclays worker said.

We are not in the business of encouraging or condoning miss selling or inappropriate sales in any way whatsoever,
Barclays statement

One bank trainer confesses to being a "right git" to customers complaining about the levying of bank charges.

"They will start shouting, being abusive, crying, start blaming you, (saying) my kids are going to starve. 'But my attitude is I don't know you, I don't care," the trainer said.

In response, Barclays bank said in a statement that it was a trustworthy institution.

"We are not in the business of encouraging or condoning mis-selling or inappropriate sales in any way whatsoever, and we stamp on that when we find it because it is completely inappropriate behaviour for a bank," it said.

"We pride ourselves on being a responsible institution that puts its customers first. I don't think what you've seen is any way representative of the way in which Barclays does business, and I'm sure our millions of customers would tell you exactly the same thing."

Whistleblower will be shown on BBC One on Wednesday 21 March at 2100 GMT.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Undercover filming from the Whistleblower programme



SEE ALSO
Mis-selling is 'rife' at Barclays
21 Mar 07 |  Business

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