In the first six months of 2012, the major banks saw the number of complaints against them that were made to the Financial Ombudsman Service rocket. With the exception of Santander, who saw a 7% fall in the number of complaints made by customers, all the major high street banks saw an increase.
One of the biggest reasons appears to be the ongoing PPI scandal, with more and more people becoming aware that their bank had ripped them off and demanding their money back. Barclays was the worst hit by this, with complaints rising by 99% compared to the previous period. Barclay’s managing director of customer service, Paul Maddox, was quick to point out that “we have worked hard to improve our complaints handling and are seeing fewer customers feeling the need to go to the FOS. Excluding PPI, complaints to the FOS about Barclays are down 8 per cent to 4,668, which is the lowest level for three years.”
However, that seems to miss the point entirely, as he claims that as long as people ignore one of the biggest scandals his bank is going through, then things don’t look as bad. Of course, the huge scandal is exactly what has people worried and, unfortunately for Mr Maddox, it is quite hard to ignore.
Natalie Ceeney, the chief executive and chief ombudsman at the FOS, made it clear that the PPI scandal was one of the big factors: “The volume of PPI complaints doubled in the first half of 2012 – and has continued to increase since then with up to 1,500 new cases now arriving each day.”
However, as the culture of banks doesn’t appear to have changed, it is perfectly possible that another big problem will come along soon enough, and who knows how many complaints that will generate? With plenty of compensation payments still to be made for mis-sold PPI, we’re not likely to see the high number of complaints tail off for a while yet.