Complaints against banks & building societies double Q3 2012 – Financial Ombudsman Service

Tuesday 5 March 2013 06.00 GMT

Financial ombudsman swamped as PrePayment Insurance cases rise 147%

Financial Ombudsman Service has received more than 600,000 complaints about PPI (payment protection insurance) since 2000 – almost half of them in 2012

Lloyds bank signDark clouds: Lloyds was the subject of 45,727 complaints to the FOS – 42,195 about PPI, of which 86% were upheld. Photograph: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

The number of complaints made to the Financial Ombudsman Service more than doubled in the second half of 2012, with more than a quarter of a million new cases registered against banks and building societies.

The main driver was complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance, which accounted for three-quarters of the new cases, equivalent to about 8,000 a week.

A record total of 283,251 complaints were taken on by the ombudsman between 1 July and 31 December 2012, 110% up on the figure for the first half of the year. There was a 147% rise in PPI problems, which accounted for 211,885 cases, compared with 85,562 in the previous period.

The Financial Ombudsman Service deals with complaints about financial firms which those businesses have not resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Since 2000 it has received more than 600,000 complaints about PPI – almost half of them in 2012 alone.

Lloyds Group was the subject of 93,454 complaints. This represented a 237% increase on the first half of 2012. Of these, more than 82,000 related to PPI.

The group has so far put aside £6.7bn to compensate customers mis-sold PPI policies, but the ombudsman data shows it is rejecting a huge number of complaints it should be paying out on.

Lloyds TSB was the subject of 45,727 complaints to the ombudsman, 42,195 about PPI, of which 86% were upheld; Bank of Scotland attracted 34,434 PPI complaints, of which 81% were upheld; while another Lloyds Group business, Black Horse Limited, accounted for a further 5,888 complaints about PPI, of which 97% were ruled in the customer’s favour by the ombudsman.

Barclays bank received 44,725 complaints, of which 37,883 were about PPI. Its uphold rate for PPI complaints was 77%. In contrast, Capital One attracted 9,660 PPI complaints of which just 6% were upheld.

“The number of PPI complaints has continued to increase at unprecedented levels, and we are now regularly taking on around 2,000 new cases each day,” said chief ombudsman Natalie Ceeney. “However, as the complaint levels show no sign of slowing, consumers are increasingly having to wait longer to get their complaints sorted – with many businesses still continuing to cause unnecessary delays.

“Where businesses have shown a real commitment to better customer service and diligent complaints handling, including actively engaging with the ombudsman, cases are resolved more quickly and easily, to the benefit of everyone.”

PPI – top 10 complained about individual businessesThe FOS has taken on new staff to deal with the processing of complaints as the number of PPI cases has grown. Banks pay up to £850 for each PPI case that gets referred to the ombudsman. However, a spokesman said it was taking at least a year to deal with new cases, and consumers filing complaints today may have to wait even longer to see theirs resolved.

Figures from the ombudsman highlight how complaints are concentrated against a minority of the more than 100,000 firms covered by the service, with 197 companies accounting for 95% of cases, and five financial services groups accounting for 78% of all new PPI cases.

PPI – top 10 complained about individual businesses. Source: FOS

Financial Ombudsman Service: full complaints data