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FOS publishes latest financial services complaints data

Kit Klarenberg
Written By:
Kit Klarenberg

The Bank of Scotland, Direct Line, Sesame and Aviva have topped the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) list of the most complained about companies in the first six months of 2015.

The FOS has released financial services complaints data relating to banks, insurers and other businesses, covering the first six months of 2015. The figures indicate a total of 173,994 new complaints were lodged with the FOS in the first half of 2015 – an overall increase of 8 per cent on the previous period’s total of 161,649.

Bank of Scotland, part of Lloyds Banking Group, received a total of 20,228 complaints – up 3 per cent on the second half of 2014. Aviva’s combined brands received the most complaints among pensions companies, with 1,408 complaints. Sesame was the most complained about advice firm with 172 complaints, including 20 for investments and 80 for life, pensions and decumulation. Direct Line was the most complained about firm in general insurance, with 1,536 new cases received.

Complaints over payment protection insurance (PPI) misselling fell by 10 per cent compared to the previous period, but still accounted for 55 per cent of complaints overall, with 94,091 new claims lodged so far (an average of 15,681 per month).

On average, a complaint had a 57 per cent of being upheld. Depending on the business, rates of success ranged from 5 to 94 per cent.

“It’s been seven years since the ombudsman began publishing data about individual financial businesses – this has coincided with a period of volatility and challenge for much of the financial services sector, still reflected in the data we publish today,” said Wayman.

“Though the number of new PPI cases has reduced, the decline has not been as steady or as marked as generally expected. Nobody wants ‘another PPI’, which is why we’re working closely with businesses, claims companies and their regulators to make sure PPI is sorted as fairly and as quickly as possible for everyone involved – and lessons are learned to prevent anything like this happening again. If we can all achieve this, the next seven years should be a different story.”

Complaints relating to other financial products have risen by 45 per cent to 79,550, largely driven by a significant increase in complaints about packaged bank accounts. The figures suggest 25,500 consumers complained about the issue in the first six months of 2015, more than in the whole of 2014. FOS chief executive Caroline Wayman attributes this surge, and the consistently high levels of PPI complaints, to “claim managers” in these areas, who have increased the FOS’ workload by two thirds this year.

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk commented: “Packaged current accounts have long been the favoured springboard for banks and building societies to cross-sell customers their full portfolio of products whether they need them or not. Pushy sales tactics have left many consumers paying a monthly bill for benefits that aren’t suitable and don’t give them good value for money.

“It’s great to see that consumers are at last ‘wising up’ and taking banks to task.  These accounts are a useful cash cow for the financial sector, one that it will look to replace with another form of income.”

Nicolas Frankcom, Head of money at uSwitch.com, says: “Another week and yet another potential banking scandal where hundreds of thousands of consumers could be victims of unscrupulous mis-selling tactics. Is it any wonder customers have such little trust in their banks?

“With so many options available, banks need to be crystal clear about what an account offers, whether it’s suitable for the customer, and how much it costs. People want products that they need, not just something that makes banks’ money.

“Remember, if you’re not happy with your bank hit them where it hurts. It’s easy to vote with your feet and switch. The process takes just seven working days and new banks are offering more choice than ever before.”

Click here to view the complaints data in full.