BoS, Santander and Barclays top FOS complaints list

Yuan Phoon

September 6, 2011

The Bank of Scotland had 13,021 total complaints, third overall, 590 of which were for mortgage and finances: the most out of any other business on the list.

It was followed by Santander who had 460 complaints for mortgages and home finances out of the 6,434 total complaints.

Third on the list was Barclays which had 16,864 total complaints, 362 of which were for mortgages and home finances.

While the FOS published the total number of new cases received in the six months from 1 January to 30 June 2011, it was not able to provide numbers on what proportion these complaints made up of total business.

Lloyds Banking Group which owns Bank of Scotland and Santander and Barclays were the top three mortgage lenders in the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ largest mortgage lenders by gross lending table putting the proportionality of the figures provided by the FOS into question.

Santander said that the number of FOS referrals for it fell by 3% from the second half of 2010 to the first half of 2011. This improvement was against a backdrop of an increase of 54% overall for the industry. This means that Santander’s share of new FOS cases had fallen from 8% to 5%, well below its market share.

The FOS also published figures for the number of complaints cases which were resolved in favour of consumers.

Clydesdale Bank had the strongest resolution ratio at 89% of their 201 mortgages and home finance cases were resolved in favour of consumers.

Bank of Scotland resolved 47% of cases in favour of consumers while Barclays resolved 45% and Santander 31%.

Overall the FOS received a total of 149,925 new complaints over the six month period, a 54% increase on the 97,237 cases received in the second half of 2010.

Of the data published 68% of cases were related to payment protection insurance.

Lloyds TSB Bank had the highest number of new cases received at 19,569 followed by Barclays with 16,864 and then the Bank of Scotland with 13,021.

Natalie Ceeney, chief executive and chief ombudsman, said: “These latest figures show a significant increase in the number of new PPI complaints referred to the ombudsman during the first half of 2011.

“This period coincided with the time when most of the high street banks and some other financial businesses had put PPI complaints on hold because of their legal challenge against the ombudsman service and Financial Services Authority.

“As a result complaints in this period about PPI were harder fought and harder to resolve – particularly if we found in favour of a consumer.

“This data therefore gives only a partial view on the cases which we were working to resolve over this period.”

Steve Williams, director of service quality, said: “Improving the service we offer is our top priority and we’ve been working hard to do so.

“The reduction in the number of customers going to the FOS is the result of intense focus at Santander UK and marks an improvement in the levels of service we provide to our customers.”

Williams said that while it was pleased with the improvement, especially in light of industry trends, Santander was still working hard as it wanted to continue this improvement.

“Initiatives such as returning our overseas retail banking call centres to the UK are part of our ongoing programme to further improve service,” Williams added.

“We offer some of the best financial products on the market and we will keep working to ensure our customer service is just as good.”

Richard Lloyds, executive director at Which? said: “These numbers show that some banks are still not dealing with PPI complaints fairly.

“If the next round of complaints data doesn’t show a dramatic improvement then the FSA must take tough enforcement action against banks whose complaints handling isn’t up to scratch.

“To ensure that consumers get the redress they deserve the FSA must make sure that all major banking groups are required to review the PPI complaints they previously rejected unfairly.

“Even if you take PPI out of the equation, these figures point to the blasé attitude banks seem to have towards their customers.

“In a properly functioning market banks wouldn’t be able to get away with treating customers like this. This is exactly why the government must take urgent action to improve competition and switching, starting on Monday when the Independent Commission on Banking publishes its final report.”

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