Five-year high in complaints to Financial Services Ombudsman

Caroline Wayman
Caroline Wayman

The Financial Services Ombudsman (FSO) recorded a five-year high in complaints last year, with more than 388,000 people bringing complaints, up 14 per cent on the year before.

The rise was driven by an 89 per cent rise in complaints about consumer credit products and services, including payday lenders, following a 40 per cent increase last year.

When PPI is excluded, complaints about consumer credit products and services represented a third of new cases received by the FSO last year.

Chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman, writing in the FSO’s annual review, said: “What we’ve seen in this sector has been unacceptable: in too many cases, customers have been left to struggle with unsustainable debt.

“Looking at short-term lending in particular, the proportion of complaints we upheld – around six in every ten – shows diligent lenders have been the exception. At the end of a volatile year that saw lenders collapse as a consequence of past unfairness, it’s vital that those remaining don’t allow history to repeat itself.”

The annual review also noted a 42 per cent year-on-year increase in complaints about buildings insurance and a 24 per cent increase in complaints about investments and pensions.

The ombusdman also received its two-millionth complaint about PPI ahead of the FCA’s complaints deadline of 29 August 2019.

Ms Wayman said: “In what’s been a really challenging year, people’s satisfaction with our service has remained high – along with public trust. And we’ve continued to use feedback, including the independent review of our service published in July 2018, as an opportunity to do things even better.

“That’s been especially important as we’ve been preparing to take on two new jurisdictions – for complaints about claims management companies, and from more small business customers of financial services – and as we look ahead beyond PPI, to an increasingly diverse and complex mix of complaints.”

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