Banks dominate Fos complaints as claims top 325k

The Financial Ombudsman Service has faced 327,035 new complaints over the past six months, relating to just 195 financial businesses out of a total of 100,000 covered by Fos.

Data from the service revealed that once again, high street banks were the main offenders - not just a result of their size but in relation to the types of products that received the most complaints - namely payment protection insurance, a product sold primarily by banks.

According to Fos, the number of complaints was 15 per cent higher than in the previous six months.

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The top 10 most complained-about institutions were all banks, with the Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays Bank taking the top three slots respectively.

The data revealed that the Bank of Scotland’s number of complaints rose by a massive 57 per cent on the last six month period of 2012. According to the data, in the second half of 2012, the bank received 39,375 complaints, 44 per cent of which were upheld.

At the end of June 2013, the bank had received 61,664 complaints, 80 per cent of which were upheld by the ombudsman.

In line with the trend of recent months, eight out of 10 complaints stemmed from PPI. The Fos revealed there were 266,228 new PPI complaints, compared with 211,885 in the last six months of 2012.

The data also revealed that, for complaints about products other than PPI, the total number of complaints referred to the ombudsman dropped 15 per cent from 71,366 to 60,807 during the first six months of the year.

Broken down, this included a 22 per cent drop in general banking complaints and a decrease of 3 per cent in complaints relating to insurance.

Natalie Ceeney, chief executive and chief ombudsman, said: “Disappointingly we are still seeing cases where businesses are not following our long standing approach to PPI, resulting in long waits and unnecessary delays for consumers.

“But, more positively, we are seeing encouraging signs from some major businesses that are starting to recognise the value of getting things right for their customers – with an increased focus on sorting out problems and concerns as quickly as possible.”

Paul Maddox, Barclays managing director of customer service, highlighted positive trends for the bank despite its lofty position on the claims table, stating that Fos referrals were down close to 3 per cent compared to the second half of 2012 and that “overturn rates” had fallen modestly across banking and credit, mortgage and PPI complaints by between 3 and 4 per cent.

“We are making real progress in driving complaints down 46 per cent excluding PPI and 16 per cent including PPI in the first half of this year, and whilst we are now also starting to see Fos referrals reduce, we recognise there is more work to do.

“Our referrals to the FOS about banking and mortgages have reduced 10 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. Because 84 per cent of our total volume is historical PPI cases, our overall figures have reduced by a more modest 2.6 per cent. It is however encouraging to see that our PPI overturn rate has now reduced to below the industry average.