The Financial Ombudsman Service settled a record number of disputes between consumers and financial service providers over the year to the end of March 2014.
The independent body answered 2.3m enquires, with around one in five of these turning into a formal dispute, and settled a record 518,778 disputes. This figure is more than double that registered last year.
Payment protection insurance (PPI) continued to make up the majority of all cases, with 78% of complaints coming from this area.
The annual review shows that one in six people across the UK said they had had a problem with a financial product or service. Some 58% of cases that were resolved were in the consumer’s favour.
Tony Boorman, chief ombudsman, said, “It’s been an unprecedented 12 months for the ombudsman by anyone’s standards. Complaints continued at record levels – and we resolved over half a million cases during the year.”
The four largest UK banks – Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland – accounted for almost two-thirds of complaints received by the ombudsman. The figures support claims that smaller banks and building societies can offer greater levels of customer satisfaction and trust.
Chairman of the body Nicholas Montagu also noted that technology and new products are creating additional challenges that the service needs to meet. He pointed to the relatively new services provided by Bitcoin and Paym as exampled to technology changing views and what fairness means.
The former chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman Service Natalie Ceeney has previously said the increasing number of complaints about financial service providers is due to a lack of trust following scandals. She urged providers to focus on listening and warned that failing to do so could cost the sector financially and further harm its reputation.
Photo: images of money via Flickr