The financial ombudsman has revealed that it is the Bank of Scotland that is the subject of more complaints than any other bank. The first half of this year alone saw the ombudsman deal with over 20,000 complaints relating to the bank.
Barclays and Lloyds were also singled out as banks attracting a lot of complaints from consumers. Together with Bank of Scotland, they were named the three “most-complained about” of all financial firms in 2015 so far. Over the first six months of the year, this trio collectively gave rise to roughly 60,000 new cases for the financial ombudsman. 20,288 of these were in relation to the Bank of Scotland, followed by 20,021 complaints about Barclays and 19,818 surrounding Lloyds Bank.
NatWest attracted special mention for the rapid increase in the number of complaints it gave rise to. The initial six months of 2015 saw complaints relating to NatWest increase by more than half compared to the previous six month period. NatWest gave rise to 11,549 complaints in total in the initial six months of 2015 – a 51% increase on the 7,663 complaints in the latter half of 2014.
In total, the first half of the year saw 173,994 new cases taken on by the Financial Ombudsman Service. Compared to the second half of last year, this is an increase of 8%. Over half of these complaints related to mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI) as part of the ongoing multi-billion-pound scandal surrounding widespread use of questionable selling tactics by banks and other lenders. Chief ombudsman Caroline Wayman said: “Complaints about PPI continue to make up over half of our workload. And though the number of new PPI cases has reduced in the first half of this year, the decline has not been as steady or as marked as generally expected.”
However, complaints relating to other financial products are on the rise, jumping by 45% in the first half of this year thanks largely to an influx of new cases relating to packaged bank accounts. These are a kind of current account offered by some banks such as NatWest and Lloyds which offer the account holder a benefit package in exchange for a fee that is usually paid monthly. The kind of benefits on offer often include insurance products such as card protection, travel insurance, or gadget insurance. Concerns have been rising for a couple of years now about the misselling of these products, particularly the misselling of card insurance as a paid extra when the bank already offered card protection to the customer in question as standard, and now complaints about packaged accounts have reached 400 every week.