New study by Fair Finance Brazil finds one in five consumers complaints left unresolved by banks

24 May 2022

The study analyzed the performance rates of complaint-handling services of the seven largest banks operating in Brazil.

Fair Finance Brazil member - the Brazilian Institute of Consumer Protection (IDEC) -  recently launched a new study that analyzes the performance of the Customer Services Departments of the Brazilian banking sector between 2019 and 2021; before and after the pandemic. The research shows that the significant investment in the digitization of the sector's service, following the beginning of the pandemic, was not accompanied by a real improvement in the ability to solve consumer demands.

The research specifically evaluated the service channels that are assigned to deal with the complaints of users of the seven largest commercial banks operating in the country; Banco do Brasil, Caixa Econômica Federal, Bradesco, Santander, Itaú, BTG Pactual and Safra.

Among the data analyzed, it was found that the rate of resolution of complaints registered with Procons against the seven largest commercial banks showed an average drop of 4.96 percentage points - from 78.18% in 2019 to 73.22% in 2021. This index measures "the percentage of demands resolved by the supplier", when it receives a notification made by the Procons System (Sindec).

On the, the banks' resolution index rose two percentage points in the same period, reaching 78%. What is striking is that, although the problem-solving rate has improved in one of the channels analyzed, approximately one in five consumers do not have their complaint resolved.

The lack of human care and physical agencies

The research also shows that as banks announce the increased digitization of their service channels, public bank branches and face-to-face service facilities are being closed. Of the seven banks analyzed, four closed branches between 2019 and 2021, representing a reduction of 2,318 branches previously available to consumers.

In addition, the study indicates that several of the changes brought in by the new SAC decree; one of which is the reduction of human service-provision from 24 hours to only 8 hours per day, are unwise as the service performed by human operators in person or via telephone fulfils an important role. Idec notes this movement with concern, as it tends to be more harmful to the hyper-vulnerable consumer, such as the elderly, indebted and people who are unfamiliar with the use of digital tools or who do not have access to the Internet.

The results of the banks in the IDEC study

The variations observed in the indicators show that among the seven selected banks, Caixa, Bradesco and Santander were the ones that showed least capacity to implement improvements in the treatment of consumer complaints made in the post-pandemic period. In fact, according to data from Sindec and the Central Bank, these banks showed a decrease in their ability to resolve complaints.

Bradesco and Caixa also showed a decline in the resolution index of the platform, further highlighting the negative highlight.

However, even with negative variations, Caixa presented the best indicators in the quality of the Central Bank's Ombudsman and in the Sindec preliminary solution index. Regarding the solution index of the, Caixa occupied the second position, just behind Itaú Bank, which presented the best performance on this platform.

On the other hand, although BTG Pactual and Safra presented significant improvements in the Central Bank's indicators, it is important to highlight that the performance presented by these two banks, both in 2019 and 2021, remains the lowest when compared to the other banks selected in the study.

The research conducted by Idec used the reports of the Ombudsman's accounts of the seven largest financial institutions operating in Brazil as a database, as well as the statistics provided by, Banco Central, Senacon (National Consumer Secretariat) and Sindec.