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ombudsman releases latest complaints data on individual financial businesses

25 February 2010

The Financial Ombudsman Service today releases its second six-monthly set of complaints data relating to individual financial businesses - including banks, insurance companies and investment firms.

The data published today on the ombudsman's website covers consumer complaints handled by the ombudsman service between 1 July and 31 December 2009. The data includes both the number of complaints received about individual businesses and the percentage of complaints upheld by the ombudsman service in favour of consumers.

During this six-month period, the ombudsman service received a total of 82,136 new complaints - an increase of 18% on the 69,841 cases received in the first half of 2009. Of these new cases, 88% related to 155 financial businesses (out of more than 100,000 businesses covered by the ombudsman).

The number of new complaints about each of these individual businesses ranged from 31 to 9,952. Five financial services groups each continued to have more than 3,000 complaints each, which together accounted for 46,979 cases - over half of all the new complaints received by the ombudsman during this six-month period.

The number of new complaints against each business is likely to be affected by the business size. However, experts consulted by the ombudsman were unable to agree how size (or market share) should be taken into account, when comparing complaints statistics across the financial services sector [independent report on "contextualising" complaints data opens as PDF].

The data published today shows that in the second half of 2009 the ombudsman service upheld an average of 53% of complaints in favour of consumers, compared to 59% in the first half of the year. Across the 155 individual businesses included in the complaints data, this uphold rate varied substantially between 10% and 100% upheld in favour of consumers.

David Thomas - interim chief ombudsman - said:

While the number of cases referred by consumers to the ombudsman has continued to increase substantially, it's encouraging to see that some businesses are committed to handling complaints better.

However, there is evidently still room for significant improvement in the way other financial businesses handle complaints - judged by the proportion of cases where we overturn the decision that the businesses have themselves come to in their own earlier investigation of their customer complaints.

The data we have released today clearly shows that some businesses still need to do more to ensure that they deal with their customers' complaints effectively and fairly - so that consumers do not then need to escalate their dissatisfaction to the ombudsman. We hope that businesses will continue to use this data to focus their attention on addressing these key complaints-handling issues over the coming months and years.

Look at the complaints data now available on individual financial businesses.

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