14 September 2010
The Financial Ombudsman Service today releases its third set of six-monthly complaints data relating to individual financial businesses – including banks, insurance companies and investment firms.
The data published today on the ombudsman's website covers consumer complaints handled by the ombudsman service between 1 January and 30 June 2010. The data includes both the number of complaints received about individual businesses and the percentage of complaints upheld by the ombudsman service in favour of consumers.
During this six-month period, the ombudsman service received a total of 84,212 new complaints – a small increase on the 82,136 cases received in the second half of 2009. Of these new cases, 89% related to 160 financial businesses (out of more than 100,000 businesses covered by the ombudsman).
The number of new complaints about each of these individual businesses ranged from 30 to 12,750. Five financial services groups continued to have more than 3,000 complaints each, which together accounted for 47,507 cases – over half of all the new complaints received by the ombudsman during this six-month period.
The number of new complaints against each business is likely to be affected by the size of the business. However, experts consulted by the ombudsman were unable to agree how size (or market share) should be taken into account, when comparing complaints statistics across the financial services sector [independent report on "contextualising" complaints data opens as PDF].
The data published today shows that in the first half of 2010 the ombudsman service upheld an average of 44% of complaints in favour of consumers, compared to 53% in the second half of 2009. Across the 160 individual businesses included in the complaints data, this uphold rate varied substantially between 14% and 100% upheld in favour of consumers.
During this period 15,000 complaints about unauthorised-overdraft charges were reviewed and closed. This followed the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling in November 2009 – that the fairness of unauthorised-overdraft charges could not be challenged on the basis of the "test case" referred by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Natalie Ceeney, chief executive and chief ombudsman, said:
The latest set of complaints data shows that some businesses are really committed to ensuring that complaints are handled well, and are used to inform and improve the service they offer their customers.
However, the complaints data also shows there is still more that some businesses need to do to ensure that complaints are properly investigated and fairly resolved. The ombudsman is keen to continue to play its part and help businesses draw lessons from the complaints that we see, so disputes can be sorted out at the earliest opportunity.