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a quarter of a million complaints - and the lives behind them

ombudsman service publishes annual review of personal finance disputes

22 May 2012

The Financial Ombudsman Service - the independent organisation that settles disputes between consumers and financial companies - today publishes its annual review covering the 2011/2012 financial year. The review shows that during the year:

  • The ombudsman received over 1.2 million front-line enquiries and complaints from consumers - over 5,000 each working day.
  • 1 in 5 of these initial enquiries went on to become formal disputes - a record 264,375 new cases, up 28% on the previous year.
  • 157,716 cases (60% of the total) were about the sale of payment protection insurance (PPI) - the highest number of complaints ever received about a single financial product.
  • All areas of the UK saw similar-sized increases in the number of consumers bringing complaints to the ombudsman - with "complaint hotspots" in Glasgow, Swansea and Bristol.

Looking at the trends and themes behind these figures, Natalie Ceeney, chief ombudsman, reflected:

This year's been a struggle for many consumers, who've found themselves burdened by debt, besieged by claims companies and bewildered by the complexity of financial services. This has made our work at the ombudsman service more challenging - but more crucial - than ever before.

I believe there's something we can all learn from what we've seen this year - to help prevent future problems and complaints. What's gone wrong in the past doesn't need to happen again - as long as we remember that "complaints" are about real people, not numbers, and that "complaints handling" is about customer service, not box ticking.

Statistics from the ombudsman's annual review show:

  • The ombudsman's involvement resulted in compensation for consumers in 64% of cases (51% in the previous year).
  • 69% of PPI complaints were brought by claims companies - down from 76% last year, as more consumers realise they don't need to pay someone to complain on their behalf.
  • PPI complaints made up 62% of cases from the North East of England compared with 48% from the South East.
  • The number of people using the ombudsman from "C1/C2" (skilled/semi-skilled) and "DE" (unskilled) backgrounds have risen by 50% and 140% respectively over the last five years - while complaints from "AB" professionals have fallen by 42%.
  • 21% of consumers who brought complaints to the ombudsman said they had some form of disability.
  • 18% of people across the UK said they'd had a problem with a financial product or service - and 75% said they were aware of the Financial Ombudsman Service.
  • 70% said they would trust the ombudsman - and 77% said they would recommend the ombudsman to friends and family.

our annual review

media enquiries

  • press office – phone 020 7964 1234

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