Ombudsman complaints continue to rise

| February 25, 2010
”Ombudsman

In its second six-monthly set of complaints data relating to individual financial firms, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has today said complaints rose by 18% in the second half of 2009.

According to the FOS, it received 82,136 complaints between 1 July and 31 December 2009 – a rise of 12,295 compared with the first half of the year.

Meanwhile, in the second half of last year, the ombudsman upheld an average of 53% of complaints in favour of consumers, compared to 59% in the first half of 2009.

The FOS said its new policy of naming and shaming appeared to be changing the way firms dealt with complaints.

Interim chief ombudsman, David Thomas, comments: “While the number of cases referred by consumers to the ombudsman has continued to increase substantially, it’s encouraging to see that some businesses are committed to handling complaints better.

“However, there is evidently still room for significant improvement in the way other financial businesses handle complaints – judged by the proportion of cases where we overturn the decision that the businesses have themselves come to in their own earlier investigation of their customer complaints,” he added.

“The data we have released today clearly shows that some businesses still need to do more to ensure that they deal with their customers’ complaints effectively and fairly, so that consumers do not then need to escalate their dissatisfaction to the ombudsman.

“We hope that businesses will continue to use this data to focus their attention on addressing these key complaints-handling issues over the coming months and years,” he concludes.

During the six-month period, the most complained about individual firms were Lloyds, Barclays Bank and Bank of Scotland (also part of Lloyds Banking Group) receiving 9,952, 9,836 and 7,349 complaints respectively.

Meanwhile, Kevin Mountford of Moneysupermarket.com, explains: “High profile campaigns, such as that of the OFT against overdraft charges on current accounts, will also have had a significant impact on the number of complaints made.”

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