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More than half of complaints are at top five banks

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by Kay Mitchell

The top five High Street banks accounted for 59% of all complaints received in the first half of this year, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The top five banks are: Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Abbey and HSBC.

The FOS said it would name and shame the banks and force them to resolve more complaints themselves after it received more than 38,000 cases during the January to June period.

During the six-month period, the FOS received almost 70,000 complaints, 87% of which had been generated by customers of only 142 businesses out of the 100,000 the FOS covers.

The FOS deals with complaints from customers in the financial services industry if firms are unable to settle them themselves.

Walter Merricks, the chief ombudsman who is due to step down next month, said: “We have already been providing comparative complaints data on a private basis to the larger financial businesses – but this has led to no improvement in the standard of complaints handling by the worse-performing businesses.”

“Putting this information into the open will now give those worse-performing businesses vital encouragement to improve – which should mean fewer of their customers having to bring complaints to the ombudsman that should already have been resolved,” added Mr Merricks, who has spent a decade with the FOS.

Peter Vicary-Smith of consumer group, Which?, comments: “Naming and shaming these companies is a victory for consumers but humiliating for the industry, who have had five years to get their houses in order.”

The report comes after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) released data which revealed that the majority of complaints in the financial services industry between 2006 and 2008 related to banks and their products.

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News posted: September 15, 2009

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