PPI complaints begin to fall
Payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints are finally starting to slow down, according to the Financial Ombudsman service. But chief ombudsman Natalie Ceeney said complaints about packaged bank accounts are on the rise.
In an update on the current financial year, Ceeney said the FoS is starting to see the volume of PPI complaints "level off and edge slightly downwards."
However, she added: "It's disappointing that we're starting to see more complaints about 'packaged' bank accounts - those current accounts that include things like breakdown cover and travel insurance."
The ombudsman is receiving around 70 complaints about paid-for accounts each week, up from around 40 a week in 2012.
In the first five months of this financial year (April to August 2013) it received 1,440 new complaints about paid-for accounts, compared to 1,629 paid-for accounts cases referred to the ombudsman during the whole of the last financial year (2012/13).
While complaints are on the rise, the ombudsman is currently finding in consumers' favour in seven out of ten (72%) cases it resolves.
The ombudsman added: "We do receive a number of complaints about the products 'packaged' with the accounts, from mobile phone insurance to travel insurance. These problems tend to arise when people come to make a claim - only to find that their policy offered only limited cover or pays out only under the most particular of circumstances."
Typical complaints include people not wanting or not realising they had a paid-for account - sometimes a bank will make it seem as though the packaged account option is the only one available to the consumer or upgrade an account without notifying the them.
Problems with the additional extras packaged with the account not being useful for the customer's needs are also becoming more common.
"We've been working closely with the banks in this area," Ceeney added. "I've been encouraged to see willingness in certain quarters to learn from the problems we're all seeing - and to ensure that as many complaints are resolved by the banks themselves, rather than needing to come to us for a decision."
Payment protection insurance is designed to cover you should you fall ill, have an accident or lose your job and can’t make repayments on loans or credit cards. However, research by consumer watchdogs found the cover to be overpriced, filled with exclusions (policies exclude self-employment, contract employees and pre-existing medical conditions) and were often mis-sold because the exclusions were never fully explained. In May 2011, the High Court ruled banks had knowingly mis-sold PPI and ordered them to compensate around two million consumers.
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.