Lloyds wins banking's wooden spoon

Tim Bennett rounds up the week's personal finance news, inculding how Lloyds topped the list of customer complaints.

This year's banking wooden spoon goes to Lloyds TSB, says Holly Thomas in The Sunday Times. According to the Financial Ombudsman Service, customers have launched a record number of complaints against big banks and insurers many related to missold PPI but Lloyds topped out at 27,745 between January and June. In second place, Barclays managed to double the number it received between January and June compared to the last six months of 2011. Meanwhile, the winner of Which's customer satisfaction survey was once again First Direct with 86%. Worst offenders were Santander and Halifax with 46% and 48% respectively.

Planning to extend your mortgage to improve your home? It may not be as easy as you think, warns Teresa Hunter in The Daily Telegraph. The attraction is obvious the cost of moving house has soared 70% in the past decade, according to Lloyds TSB, with owners in the southeast paying £16,500 on average. However, persuading your lender to extend your mortgage to pay for improvements instead could be tricky. Your property may have fallen in value since you took out your mortgage and your credit rating may have deteriorated with incomes under pressure and household bills rising. Those with interest-only mortgages may draw a total blank. And watch out even if you are successful you may pay a premium rate for new mortgage debt and be hit with a hefty arrangement fee. The message? Do your homework before applying to avoid any nasty surprises.

Price comparison websites may seem like the easy route to the best insurance deal, says James Daly in The Sunday Telegraph, but there are pitfalls to look out for. Some sites exclude certain offers or don't search the whole market. Insurers such as Direct Line, Aviva and NFU Mutual have opted not to be available at all. Also, look out for pre-ticked boxes that may bump up your premium or even leave you uncovered. The best bet is to try several sites and phone a couple of brokers direct before commiting.

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Using up your annual cash Isa limit (£5,640) to save tax on interest makes sense. But shopping around is more important than ever. As Thisismoney.co.uk's Dan Hyde notes, 22 out of 28 of our banks and building societies often offer higher rates on standard savings accounts that are taxed than they do on tax-free Isas. Banks that "play fair" by offering equal rates include Nationwide, Virgin and M&S Money. The best cash Isa deal is currently Sainsbury's Bank's easy access account paying 3.01%.

Don't be fooled as some consumers are by the weight of a bottle of wine, says the Food Quality and Preference Journal. A heavier bottle suggests neither higher quality (although it did once) or quantity (a standard bottle contains 75cl).

Tim graduated with a history degree from Cambridge University in 1989 and, after a year of travelling, joined the financial services firm Ernst and Young in 1990, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1994.

He then moved into financial markets training, designing and running a variety of courses at graduate level and beyond for a range of organisations including the Securities and Investment Institute and UBS. He joined MoneyWeek in 2007.