OMBUDSMAN: Deal with complaints thoughtfully

Of the total cases referred to the ombudsman in the second half of the year, payment protection insurance (PPI) made up two thirds (65%) – with a total of 104,877 new PPI complaints.

For complaints about financial products other than PPI, the total number of cases referred to the ombudsman remained at a similar level throughout the year (57,310 in the first half of the year compared to 56,771 in the second). However, banking complaints increased by 8% and investment cases by 4%.

The average uphold rate (where the ombudsman found in the consumer’s favour) over the six-month period was half (52%), ranging from 4% to 98% across the individual businesses.

Chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman said: “PPI complaints still make up the bulk of the ombudsman’s workload and resolving these cases remains a priority. Although it’s good news that complaint numbers are starting to level off, we have seen a change in the nature of the PPI complaints people are asking us to resolve – which are becoming increasingly hard-fought and more complex.

“In areas outside PPI, we continue to see many entrenched disputes that could have been avoided. We’re also hearing dissatisfaction from people where their problems started with a simple misunderstanding. On these occasions, problems could often have been cleared up much earlier, if there had been better communication between the financial business and their customer.

“It will take time to rebuild people’s trust and confidence in the financial sector. And a first step towards this is for all businesses to show they’ve dealt with their customers’ complaints thoughtfully and with care. This is why we share what we see with businesses to help them understand our approach, while at the same time keeping fairness at the heart of what we do. ”