But slowdown in second half of the year hints at improving situation
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) received a record number of complaints over 2013, with complaints up more than a third on 2012.
The FOS received 575,836 complaints during 2013, up 38% on 2012 levels.
Payment protection insurance (PPI) was still the most complained about product with over 1,000 complaints a day coming in from consumers, and over the last six months of 2013 PPI accounted for 76% of all complaints.
Chief ombudsman Tony Boorman said: “We’re still a long way from being able to say that PPI is sorted once and for all. Over 1,000 people every day are still asking us to sort out PPI problems.
“So with the numbers of new cases still depressingly high, we’re going to need to continue to rely on the patience of consumers and the cooperation of businesses to get us through the substantial workload.”
Situation is improving
However, despite record complaints for the year, the last six months of 2013 saw a decline in the number of cases being received by the FOS.
Over the second half of the year insurance complaints were down 7% compared to the first six months of 2013 and overall complaints (excluding PPI) were down by 8%.
The overall level of complaints for the second half of 2013 was also lower than the same period in 2012 (see chart, below). The FOS received a total of 248,801 complaints over the last six months in 2013, down 12% on the same six months of 2012.
However, the FOS is still finding in favour of the consumer in more than half of all cases.
For the second half of the year the number of complaints upheld in favour of the customer stood at 51%. However, for some areas of business this was as high as 94%.
Boorman said that financial institutions needed to do more to help their customers in light of so many complaints being upheld.
“Away from PPI, there are further signs of improvement, with fewer cases suggesting good news. But in far too many cases uphold rates remain stubbornly high, highlighting the need for financial businesses to do more to demonstrate their longer-term commitment to listen to customer’s concerns as they seek to rebuild trust,” he said.
More to follow.