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annual review 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005 - who complained to us

what type of consumer uses the ombudsman service?

The chart below shows that our “average” customer is between 35 and 64 years old. Eight out of ten people who use our service are in this age bracket - largely reflecting the fact that this is the generation of homeowners most likely to have complaints relating to mortgage endowments sold in the 1980s and early 1990s. Complaints about mortgage endowments make up two thirds of our total workload.

what age are consumers who complain to the ombudsman?

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younger than 24
25 to 34
35 to 44
45 to 54
55 to 64
65 and older

Complaints we receive from people under 35 are generally about motor and travel insurance and banking services. However, over half the complaints we received during the year about investment bonds and stocks and shares were from people over 65.

... and what gender are they?

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More men than women complain to the ombudsman service. However, a significant proportion of complaints relate to accounts and policies (especially mortgage endowment policies) held jointly. And with joint accounts, the first-named account-holder - the name our system records - is traditionally a male partner.

where do consumers live who complain to the ombudsman service?

This chart shows the geographical spread of our "customer base". Comparing these figures with regional population data for the UK helps us target where we may need to focus our outreach work in raising awareness of our service. However, the regional location of those using our service continues broadly to reflect the spread of the population across the UK as a whole.

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South East
Greater London
North West
South West
West Midlands
East Midlands
North East
East Anglia
Northern Ireland

how did consumers first hear about the ombudsman service?

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how did consumers first hear about the service?
from the financial firm
through the media
other (including other complaints bodies and claims management companies)
through a friend or relative
from the internet
from a consumer advice agency (eg Trading Standards or Citizens Advice Bureau)

The chart above shows the ways in which people with complaints found out about the Financial Ombudsman Service - based on what consumers tell us in our monthly surveys. The rules of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) require firms to tell their customers about the ombudsman when they first do business with them - and again, should the customer subsequently have a complaint. So it is to be expected that most people should first hear about us from the financial firm they are complaining about.

what newspapers do consumers read who complain to the ombudsman service? The chart below shows the newspapers that the consumers who used our service during the year told us they read. This information helps us tailor our messages more effectively to target the people who do - and don’t - know about and use the ombudsman service. The percentages for each newspaper are almost identical to those we recorded in the previous year.

pie chart

Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday
The Express / Sunday Express
The Telegraph / Sunday Telegraph
The Times / Sunday Times
The Mirror / Sunday Mirror
The Guardian / Observer
The Sun
Financial Times
The Independent / Independent on Sunday
other newspaper (including regional publications)

consumer diversity

16% of our customers told us in our monthly surveys that they had some form of disability (15% in the previous year) - predominantly hearing impairment and mobility difficulties. There is strong demand for our publications in Braille, large print and on audiotape - and we use TypeTalk and sign-language on request. This is part of our commitment to be flexible and accommodate our customers’ needs wherever we can.

Our customer surveys indicate that around 4% of people who use our service define themselves as “minority ethnic”. During the year we have worked with an agency specialising in ethnicity-driven research to try to help identify why proportionately fewer people from ethnic communities bring complaints to the ombudsman service - only 2% of our mortgage endowment complaints, for example, are from consumers from a minority ethnic group. Our research indicates that a multiplicity of complex factors are involved - reflecting the different social and economic circumstances of the UK’s diverse ethnic communities. However, in terms of awareness of consumer rights in general, proportionately more consumers from ethnic communities said that they had first heard about the ombudsman through friends, relatives and community organisations - and noticeably fewer said they relied on the media for this type of information.

For people who are not comfortable using English, we provide information and handle phone calls in other languages - and have done so during the year in 29 languages ranging from Albanian to Welsh.

how do consumers who complain to the ombudsman rate the service we provide?

we keep consumers well informed about progress on their complaint

  • 87% agree
  • 13% disagree

we explain clearly the reasons behind our decisions

  • 76% agree
  • 24% disagree

we resolve complaints within an acceptable length of time

  • 69% agree
  • 31% disagree

our staff are courteous at all times

  • 96% agree
  • 4% disagree

people who use our service are likely to recommend it to friends and family who have a financial complaint

  • 73% agree
  • 27% disagree

We carry out a monthly customer satisfaction survey, each involving a random selection of consumers with recent experience of our service. The feedback we receive from these monthly surveys tells us what our customers want and expect from us - and where we need to focus our priorities in terms of the service we provide. The chart above shows how customers who have completed the survey rated our service - measured against a number of customer service benchmarks.

We also calculate an annual baseline figure, so that we can measure and compare, year on year, the general level of satisfaction of consumers who use our service. During the year, 80% of consumers’ views of our service were generally positive (the same figure as in the previous year).

how does the outcome of their complaint affect how consumers rate the service we provide?

of those consumers who said they felt they had “won” their complaint:

  • 97% were satisfied with our handling of their case;
  • 2.5% were dissatisfied; and
  • 0.5% expressed no view

of those consumers who said they felt they had “lost” their complaint:

  • 63% were satisfied with our handling of their case;
  • 31% were dissatisfied; and
  • 6% expressed no view

of those consumers who said they didn’t feel they had either "won" or "lost" their complaint:

  • 94% were satisfied with our handling of their case;
  • 4.5% were dissatisfied; and
  • 1.5% expressed no view

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