Barclays is most complained about bank
Regulator releases figures for UK customer gripes
Barclays has come top of a list of UK banks that were the subject of most customer complaints.
The list of complaints against financial companies, compiled by financial regulator the FSA, found that Barclays received a total of 533,047 complaints in 2011. Over half of these (281,484) came in the final six months of the year, largely as a result of an increasing number of claims over payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling.
Because of their larger customer bases, banks were the subject of most complaints.
Lloyds TSB received the second highest number of complaints (422,830), of which 240,923 came in the second half, again due to a rising number of PPI claims.
Bank of Scotland and Halifax – which are now part of Lloyds Banking Group – received 204,876 complaints. The total for all three brands puts the combined group ahead of Barclays with 449,125 complaints.
Of the 146,316 banking services-related complaints received against Barclays in the last six months of the year just over half were upheld in the customer’s favour and 96% were dealt with within eight weeks of being made.
The surge in the number of PPI complaints increased the total number of complaints to financial providers by 21% between July and December 2011 compared to the previous six months.
This caused the number of complaints to banks and building societies to increase by 29% over the full year, despite complaint about banking products (credit cards, current accounts, savings and loans) being at their lowest level for five years.
In terms of complaints per number of customers it Lloyds TSB received 1.5 complaints per 1,000 customers, compared with 4.0 for Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest, 3.7 for Barclays, and 4.6 for Santander UK.
Ernst & Young has warned that the FSA figures on complaints are unreliable.
E&Y said a survey of nine major UK financial services companies showed that the FSA’s published data is not consistent as not all customer complaints are captured, firms’ definition of a reportable complaint differs significantly and some firms include invalid PPI complaints, which distort the data they report.
John Liver, Europe, Middle East, India and Africa global regulatory reform leader at Ernst & Young, said: “The FSA rules and definitions are important for supervisory purposes and for creating grounds for referral to the Financial Ombudsman Service, but do not create a clear picture of complaints handling standards for the customer or the industry.
“The combination of the way in which firms define a complaint, apply that definition and report numbers, limits the validity of using FSA data to undertake a firm by firm comparison.”
Under FSA rules regulated firms must report any complaints made to them, but the regulator only publishes the names of those that received more than 500.