Worst banks for complaints revealed

15 September 2009

Just five banking groups accounted for more than half of the complaints made against financial firms in the first six months of the year, new data today reveals.

Lloyds Banking Group racked up the largest number of new complaints, closely followed by Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Abbey and HSBC.

This is the first time complaints data relating to individual firms has been published.

The Financial Ombudsman Service received a total of 69,841 new complaints from consumers between 1 January and 30 June,, of which 87% related to 142 firms. More than 38,000 cases related to just five banking groups.

The Ombudsman, which acts as an independent adjudicator between consumers and financial firms, says it will now write to the firms that generate the most complaints. It will want to know why these firms reject so many complaints in the first instance. Earlier this year, the Ombudsman accused firms of fobbing off customers who complain about poor service rather than deal with their gripes properly.

“The complaints data we are publishing for the first time will help people to see how the financial businesses that are responsible for nine tenths of the Ombudsman's workload deal with customer complaints,” says Walter Merricks, the outgoing chief ombudsman. “The data shows that some businesses are much better, and some much worse, at complaints handling.”

An average of 59% of complaints were upheld by the Ombudsman in favour of consumers, with some firms having 95% of complaints made against them upheld. Black Horse, which is part of Lloyds, received 1,009 complaints of which 95% were upheld.

Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of Which?, says the new data is a "victory for consumers".

“Over half of the complaints to the Ombudsman are upheld in favour of the consumer; they should have been dealt with by providers' internal procedures before reaching that point,” he adds.

Firm Number of complaints* % upheld**
Lloyds Banking Group 15,233 51%
Barclays Bank 9,056 62.2%
Royal Bank of Scotland 5,883 56.4%
Abbey 4,279 66.5%
HSBC 2,969 68.3%

Source: The Financial Ombudsman Service, 15 September 2009
* Received between 1 January 2009 and 30 June 2009
** Average figure based on different brands within the group

 Worst firms for rejecting valid complaints:

Firm Group Number of complaints % upheld
Black Horse Lloyds Banking Group 1,009 95%
Loans.co.uk Loans.co.uk 220 93%
Lloyds TSB
General Insurance
Lloyds Banking Group 255 92%
Capital One Bank Capital One 1,744 91%
CitiFinancial Europe Citibank 725 85%
Firstplus Financial Group Barclays 452 85%
Source: The Financial Ombudsman Service, 15 September 2009

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