Bank Hapoalim Leads in Customer Complaints

Overall, the percentage of justified complaints at the banks takes a tumble, thanks to big improvements at Mizrahi Tefahot and First Internationl.

Complaints against banks and credit card companies took a dive in 2012, from 26.1% the previous year to 21.5%, thanks to a sharp drop in complaints at certain banks. But Bank Hapoalim still led the pack with the largest number of justified complaints, according to the ombudsman unit at the Bank of Israel which tracks and analyzes these complaints.

According to the 2012 report, complaints against Bank Hapoalim were justified 26.6% of the time. Meanwhile, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank made significant improvements in its justified complaints, dropping from 38.4% in 2011 to 20.1% in 2012, as did First International Bank, tumbling from 25.8% to 16.7% of justified complaints. These two banks were largely responsible for the overall drop in complaints as the proportion of complaints at the other banks remained relatively flat.

The Supervisor of Banks handled 6,095 written appeals and complaints from customers last year, according to the BOI ombudsman unit, of which 1,253 were complaints and the remainder was appeals and requests. Of those complaints, 898 were evaluated to see whether they were justified; the rest were usually resolved when the bank acceded to the client's request.

Additionally, about 16,400 telephone calls were answered over the course of the year by the various banks.

In 510 of the cases, the banks and the credit card companies acted in favor of the customer even though the complaints weren't classified as justified; the total sum paid out in these cases came to about NIS 1.4 million.

In the remaining cases, no action was taken due to contradictory complaints and because of legal proceedings that were pending at the same time.

David Bachar