NatWest is to roll out "talking" cash machines for blind and partially-sighted customers across the UK, as part of an upgrade to its ATM network.
Some 80% of the 4,800 ATMs and in-branch cash and deposit machines which are branded with the name NatWest or its sister bank Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) will be speech-enabled over the next couple of years.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The upgrades will start early next year and should be completed by the end of 2015, meaning that people will be able to plug earphones into the machines so they can be verbally guided through their transactions.
RBS and NatWest have been working closely with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) on the plans over the last year.
The upgrades are intended to help anyone who prefers to take on information through speech rather than reading.
Ross McEwan, RBS and NatWest retail banking CEO, said: "As one of the largest ATM providers in the UK, we want to help our customers bank with us in the simplest and most convenient way possible."
Lesley-Anne Alexander, RNIB's CEO, said she was "delighted" with the announcement and called for more banks to follow suit.
RNIB launched a Make Money Talk campaign in September 2011 calling for banks in the UK to provide ATMs with audio facilities for customers.
The announcement came on the same day it was revealed that new regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has started an enforcement investigation into an IT meltdown last summer which affected RBS, NatWest and Ulster Bank customers.
The hitch saw payments go awry, wages disappear and home purchases and holidays interrupted. RBS has already taken a £175 million hit to cover costs and compensation relating to the hitch and promised that no one would be left permanently out of pocket.
10 things we hate about our banks
NatWest launches talking cashpoints
More than 46,000 of 106,000 the complaints received by the FOS in the second half of last year related to payment protection insurance (PPI). And the organisation is expecting to receive a record 165,000 PPI complaints in 2012/2013.
The huge numbers are due to the PPI mis-selling scandal that should now be a thing of the past, but there is no doubt that the insurance, which can add thousands to the cost of a loan, is highly unpopular!
(Pictured: Martin Lewis after the PPI payout ruling)
Complaints about mortgages jumped by 38% in the last six months of last year, the FOS figures show, compared to an increase of just 5% in investment-related complaints.
Common gripes about mortgages include the exit penalties imposed should you want to sell up or change you mortgage before a fixed or discounted deal comes to an end, and the high arrangement fees charged by many lenders.
While there is nothing in the data released by the FOS about the number of complaints relating to savings accounts, hard-pressed savers have been struggling with low interest rates for several years now.
You can get up to 3.10% with Santander's easy-access eSaver account, but many older accounts are paying 1.00% or less and even this market-leading offer includes a 12-month bonus of 2.60% - meaning that the rate will plummet to just 0.50% after the first year.
Banks are imposing the highest authorised overdraft interest rates since records began, with today's borrowers paying an average of 19.47%, according to the Bank of England.
A typical Briton with an overdraft of £1,000 is therefore forking out around £200 in interest charges alone. Coupled with meagre returns on savings, it's enough to make your blood boil!
While authorised overdrafts may seem expensive, going into the red without permission will cost you even more due to huge penalty fees.
Barclays, for example, charges £8 (up to a maximum of £40 a day) each time that there is not enough money in your account to cover a payment.
If you need to send money abroad, the likelihood is that your bank will impose transfer charges - and offer you a poor rate of exchange. Someone transferring a five-figure sum could easily lose out by £500 or more as a result.
The good news, however, is that you can often get a better deal by using a currency specialist such as Moneycorp.
Automated telephone banking systems, not to mention call centres in far-flung parts of the world, are one of our top gripes - especially as we often encounter them when we are already calling to report a problem.
In the words of one disgruntled customer: "What is it about telephone banking that turns me into Victor Meldrew? Well, maybe it's the fourteen security questions, maybe it's the range of products that they try to push or maybe it's because I'm forced to listen to jazz funk at full volume while my phone bill soars.
"Actually though, I think it's because the people I eventually speak to rarely seem able to solve the issue I'm calling about."
The days of a personal relationship with your bank manager are long gone - for the huge majority of us at least.
When ethical Triodos Bank investigated recently why around 9 million Britons would not recommend their banks to a friend or relative, it found that almost a third felt they were not treated as individuals. Another 40%, meanwhile, were simply disappointed with the customer service they received.
When you're in a rush, the last thing you want to do is wait in a long queue at your local branch.
Researchers at consumer champion Which? recently found that most people get seen within 12 minutes, but you could have a much longer wait if you go in at a busy time. Frustrating stuff!
The Triodos Bank research also indicated that the bonus culture that ensured the bank's high-flying employees received large salaries, even when it was making a loss at the taxpayer's expense, was hugely unpopular with consumers.
About a quarter of those who would not recommend their current banks said this was the main reason why. And with RBS executives sharing a £785 million bonus pool despite the bank, which is 82% publicly owned, making a loss of £2 billion last year, it's not hard to see why.