Data shows complaints have increased by 5.7%

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) published figures showing how many complaints regulated firms have received and how they have dealt with them. The data, which covers 2006-2008, shows that complaints have increased by 5.7% over this period.

The data covers the volume of complaints received and the speed of complaints handling. The FSA said the speed of firms’ complaints handling and the proportion of complaints upheld by firms remained fairly stable over the period. At the end of 2008 10% of complaints took longer than eight weeks to resolve and 40% of complaints were decided in customers’ favor.

Key findings revealed:

For Banking and Loans overcharging is the biggest issue (at 21%);

For Home Finance it is disputes over amounts (20%);

For Investments it is poor customer service (21%); and

For Life and Pensions and General and Pure Protection Insurance misleading advice is the biggest issue (at 35% and 25% respectively).

The number of complaints about other general insurance/pure protection products more than doubled between H1 2006 and H2 2008 from 61,972 to 126,803 (table 2a). Most of the increase came in 2007 and 2008. This increase is largely accounted for by the increasing numbers of complaints about payment protection insurance.

Dan Waters, the FSA’s director of retail policy and conduct risk, said: “Transparency is an important regulatory tool. Publishing this information will mean that consumers and firms can now see how many complaints the industry receives and how it deals with them. This is stage one of our drive to say more about how the industry handles complaints and builds on our recent proposals, currently out for consultation, about the publication of firm-specific data.

“We expect firms to treat customers fairly by dealing with complaints promptly and efficiently. We are focusing even more attention, particularly through intensive supervision, on ensuring that firms are dealing with complaints properly.”

The FSA plans to publish aggregate data covering the first half of 2009 in October, and will then publish updates every six months after that.