Banks to be named and shamed over complaints
Banks and other big financial companies with the worst record for complaints will be publicly named and shamed for the first time from this September.
The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which deals with complaints relating to financial products, announced this week that it will make its complaints data available to consumers every six months, starting from 1 September 2009.
The data will only include firms with at least 30 complaints made against them, but will also show whether these grievances were successfully resolved in favour of the consumer.
The FOS estimates that, at the current time, around 30 different companies receive at least 30 complaints during a six-month period. From 1 September, these firms will be named within five different categories; banking (such as savings and current accounts); home finance (including mortgages); general insurance and protection products; life and pensions (including annuities); and investments.
Emma Parker, a spokeswoman for FOS, says: “We looked at the different ways we could display this information, and have decided the best way is to remove subjectivitiy – so the nature of the complaints themselves won’t be published. It is also important to show the list company’s uphold rate.”
The move has been welcomed as providing consumers with more information about product providers.
Vera Cottrell, personal finance campaigner at Which?, says: “Forewarned is forearmed, so publishing details of complaints could help consumers to make more informed choices about the financial firms they deal with."
However, she adds: "These proposals could go much further. For example, having a threshold of 30 complaints before a firm is named means that smaller companies could continue to get away with murder and no one would know.”
If you’ve have a complaint about a financial service product you have bought but the company you bought it from refuses to resolve your problem after eight weeks, the Ombudsman can help. The Ombudsman will investigate and resolve the matter. The Ombudsman is independent and its service is free to consumers. The Ombudsman may find in the company’s favour but consumers don’t have accept its decision and are always free to go to court instead. But if they do accept an Ombudsman’s decision, it is binding both on them and on the business.