A new report drew from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s growing database. TCF called the study flawed.
TCF National Bank has a new distinction: gripe king.
When it comes to bank accounts and services, the Wayzata-based lender is the most-complained-about bank in the country, based on the ratio of consumer complaints to total deposits. Most of the kvetching is about checking-account issues.
That’s according to a report out Tuesday from a major consumer advocacy group that analyzed a consumer-complaints database created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the government’s new watchdog agency.
In the first of what it says will be several reports, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group calls the database an essential tool in protecting consumers from deceptive and abusive practices.
“We’re hoping to see this transparency help good companies do better,” said Laura Murray, with PIRG’s Education Fund.
TCF disputes the findings. A spokesman noted that the bank has an unusually large number of checking accounts for a bank its size, which skews the results.
Vice Chairman Tom Jasper said TCF supports the consumer protection bureau and the database, but called the Public Interest Research Group’s methodology “significantly flawed.”
The report — “Big Banks, Big Complaints” — focuses on the 19,000 complaints that consumers lodged about bank accounts and services, such as money transfers, between March 2012 and July 2013.
Most of the problems, by far, were with checking accounts, as various fees associated with them have been a lightning rod for consumer dissatisfaction for some time.
A matter of scope?
The CFPB was collecting the complaints during a period when banks where turning to checking-accounts business to help recoup revenue they say they lost as a result of new financial regulations.
The biggest complaint, according to the report, was about the opening, closing or management of a checking account — a broad category that includes the fees consumers so despise.
Wayzata-based TCF ranked No. 1 nationally, with 24.9 complaints per billion dollars of deposits. That’s nearly three times the ratio of the No. 2 bank, Sovereign Bank in Boston.
In terms of the actual number of complaints, the country’s largest banks by deposits — Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase — topped the list.
TCF blamed its poor showing on the scope of its business. For a bank its size, with just $14 billion in deposits, TCF has 1.2 million checking accounts.
It probably has more than any bank in its peer group, said TCF spokesman Jason Korstange.