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Bank of America gets low customer ratings in survey

Nationwide survey scores of customer satisfaction down

REUTERS

Bank of America’s customer satisfaction level fell to its lowest in more than a decade, lagging other major US banks as well as credit unions, according to a nationwide survey of bank customers slated to be released Tuesday.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, published by ACSI LLC, an Ann Arbor, Mich., research firm, gave Bank of America a score of 66, compared with 70 for Citigroup, 71 for Wells Fargo, and 74 of JP Morgan Chase. All other banks averaged 79 percent, while credit unions scored 82.

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Bank of America has been “been pretty lackluster for the past four years” since the financial crisis, said David VanAmburg, managing director of ACSI. “They really ­haven’t been able to recover.”

Bank of America, headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is the biggest bank in Massachusetts and one of the largest in the country.

It said in a statement that it takes customer feedback seriously and was disappointed with the survey results.

“Better, more consistent service is central to our efforts to provide more for our customers,” said Allen Jones, Bank of America customer experience executive. “We clearly have more work to do, but we are committed to getting it right.”

VanAmburg said the customer satisfaction scores consistently show that people favor smaller banks and credit unions in polls — even though tens of millions of Americans and businesses continue to rely on the country’s largest institutions for checking and other services.

The survey interviewed more than 2,000 people, including 250 Bank of America customers.

Bank of America’s reputation, like that of many large banks, was tarnished in the housing bust and the foreclosure and financial crises that followed. But Bank of America took additional hits when it sparked national headlines last year with controversial proposals to impose a $5 monthly debit card fee and overhaul checking accounts.

The new checking accounts include higher monthly fees unless customers avoid tellers and other costly services, maintain high monthly balances, or give more business to the bank, such as opening credit card and investment accounts.

Bank of America later abandoned the debit card fee and postponed plans to roll out new checking accounts nationwide — although it continues to offer the new accounts in Massachusetts and two other states.

Bank of America has tried to repair its brand. It has maintained its commitment to philanthropy, giving away $12 million in Massachusetts alone this year, while working on a rebranding campaign for next year with help from Boston advertising firm Hill Holliday.

Todd Wallack can be reached at twallack@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @twallack.
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