CUSTOMER loyalty is being pushed to the limit as banks fail to offer existing customers the better deals being used to attract new business, a new report claims.

According to research, two-thirds of people living in the North-west believe they are penalised rather than rewarded for their loyalty.

They believe new customers are offered better rates on current and savings accounts.

And the findings suggest consumers are being forced to take drastic measures as a result of their bank's two-tier approach to customers.

The research from ING Direct also found that 30 per cent of customers have already deserted a bank in the past year - 42 per cent of people in the North-west doing so because they could not benefit from a deal offered to new customers.

A further 18 per cent say they would switch in the next 10 months.

Even financially savvy customers were discouraged by the constant need to seek out the best rate, the survey found.

Six out of 10 customers were calling on the financial services market to put a stop to short-lived, headline-grabbing deals, used to attract new business, and instead offer products with consistent rates that are open to all.

Lindsay Sinclair, chief executive officer of ING Direct, said: "Consumers are fed up with missing out on superior deals offered to new customers and rightly believe their loyalty should be rewarded.

"Our research further shows that the banking population wants an end to rate chasing, with two-thirds saying they shouldn't have to continually shop around for the best deal and instead want simple, consistently good products.

"We firmly believe that all customers should be treated equally and should expect to receive a consistent good rate rather than a headline-grabbing rate which will be dropped as soon as they've signed on the dotted line."

The ING Direct research asked North-west consumers what they want from a financial provider. No charges came top with 79 per cent of respondents, 77 per cent wanted easy to understand products, 77 per cent wanted easy access to their money and 55 per cent wanted equal treatment for all customers.