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The UK’s largest high street banks languish at the bottom of the latest big customer satisfaction survey, with the Royal Bank of Scotland least popular of all.

A survey of 20,000 customers for current accounts, credit cards, savings and mortgages, also put Barclays, Lloyds and HSBC in the bottom half of the ranking. Santander was the only big lender that did well.

The research by consumer group Which?, gave the highest score to First Direct — the branchless bank owned by HSBC — followed by Metro, where customers said they felt “valued” and appreciated the long opening hours.

Which? is launching a campaign for action by regulators and the government to improve banks’ customer service and ban high fees for unauthorised overdrafts.

The competition watchdog completed a review last year of the retail banking market. One of its main findings was that it was too difficult for customers to move their accounts.

But the report was criticised for falling short on proposals to encourage competition in the market, which is dominated by the four biggest banks — Lloyds, HSBC, RBS and Barclays.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of Which?, said the banks “need to get on the front foot and improve services for their customers, instead of waiting to be forced into action”.

Campaigners have also complained that the watchdog’s current proposals are too focused on encouraging customers to switch banks— rather than addressing the underlying problems of overdraft fees and treating customers unfairly.

But the big banks say they are making significant changes.

Over the past couple of years, RBS has banned “teaser rates”— special offers that are used to attract customers but that expire after a certain time — on home insurance, savings accounts and zero per cent balance transfers on credit cards.

Les Matheson, chief executive of RBS and NatWest retail bank, said: “We’re proud of how we’re making banking simpler and fairer for our customers.

“Whilst we are disappointed in these results, we are determined to do more and we are working with Which? to support their campaign, including raising awareness and education — not just for our customers but across the banking industry.”

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