11:05 04 June 2013
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has dealt with a record number of complaints over the past year, driven primarily by the payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling scandal.
The report out today shows the FOS tackled 508,881 new cases, up 92% on last year. The ombudsman received more than two million enquiries and complaints from customers, equating to more than 7,000 each working day.
Complaints about PPI made up 74% of all cases, with the number of consumer gripes about how their PPI complaint was handled more than doubling to 378,699.
But there were large increases in other areas too. Complaints about current accounts jumped 34% to 19,560, while mortgage gripes increased by 25% to 11,920. There were also significant rises in the number of complaints about store cards and payday loans.
The 'Big Four' banking groups (Lloyds, Barclays, RBS/NatWest and HSBC) accounted for 62% of complaints to the FOS, up from 52% the previous year.
The rise in the number of complaints is partly a result of more consumers becoming aware of their rights and being more willing to complain to seek compensation, says the FOS.
Natalie Ceeney, chief ombudsman, said: "We have seen a much stronger consumer voice in the last year - with people becoming more aware of their rights and less willing to put up with poor customer service.
"As levels of confidence in financial services have eroded, it is disappointing that we still haven't seen any significant involvement in complaints handling. Too many financial businesses still seem unable to sort out problems themselves, without the ombudsman having to get involved."
Your right to complain
In almost half of cases (49%), the FOS's involvement led to compensation. So if you do have a gripe with your bank, don't be shy about complaining. Whatever you do though, don't pay a claims manager to make the complaint on your behalf - it's easy to complain yourself.
If, for example, you think you might have been mis-sold PPI alongside your credit card, store card, loan or mortgage, you can write to you bank explaining why you think you were mis-sold. Your bank has eight weeks in which to get back to you, but if it doesn't, or you're not happy with the response you receive, you can then take your complaint to the FOS.
Mark Hooson's article is packed with tips on how to do this.
Meanwhile, if you're fed up with your existing bank, vote with your feet and switch to a better deal. Current accounts are becoming increasingly competitive and from September, the switching process is set to become even easier and will take no longer than seven days. Take a look at my article to find out more about the best current accounts.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.
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