Record levels of consumer complaints reported by the FCA

1 November 2018   By Jo Bailey

Complaints figures from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have revealed a 10% increase in complaints in the first half of the year.

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have published the figures relating to complaints made to regulated firms in the first half of 2018.

The figures show a marked increase in complaints, reaching a record high of 4.13m complaints made to a total of 3,161 companies. This represents a 10% increase compared to the previous six months.

However, most notable is the statement by the FCA that 98% of these complaints were made to the same 235 individual firms.

According to the regulator, this is the fourth half year period in a row in which complaints have risen.

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Credit: Piotr Swat/

What are we complaining about?

As per previous reports from the FCA, payment protection insurance (PPI) remains the most complained about product. Complaints relating to PPU accounted for almost half (42%) of all issues raised.

This increase has been attributed to a greater understanding of rights regarding PPI, as well as the selection of a date by which consumers must make a claim. It is likely complaints will continue to rise until the deadline of 29th August 2019, which has been maintained despite High Court challenges.

Aside of PPI, the most complained about products included credit cards (8%), car insurance (6%) and current accounts (15%).

The Big Four banks (Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds group and RBS group) dominated the finance related complaints. Barclays received the most complaints, totting up 426,361 in the six months being scrutinised.

Other complaints which were notably high related to general insurance products, investments and pensions. For insurance, Lloyds' Black Horse Limited had the most complaints about insurance.

Phoenix Group (which includes Phoenix Life and Abbey Life) had the most complaints relating to investments. Share Centre Limited received the majority of complaints relating to pensions.

Why are we complaining?

Aside of the PPI complaints, general complaints to financial providers has risen by 9% in the past six months.

According to the FCA, there have been 'several high-profile cases of disruption to retail banking services in the first half of the year'. They say that these situations have led to an increase in complaints to particular firms.

In September 2018, HSBC, Barclays and TSB were hit by a banking glitch which saw millions unable to log on to their mobile banking. This was just months after TSB 1.9m customers were left in the lurch following a bungled migration to new servers in April.

Customers of the RBS Group, including NatWest, Barclays and Ulster Bank, also encountered issues logging onto online services. An outage, also in September, saw millions locked out of accounts for more than six hours.

What are we getting back?

Complaints aren't for nothing, as the FCA figures show. Almost two thirds (58%) of non PPI complaints were resolved within three working days, down slightly from the last six months but still showing a good level of rapid resolution.

In terms of redress, the numbers are up too. Consumers claimed back £2.57bn as a result of complaints in the first half of 2018, up 9% from the £2.36bn claimed in the last half of 2017.

Even those customers who haven't yet had a cause to complain yet are beginning to benefit from a more aware population, prepared to take action over poor service.

More complaints means a better understanding of customers' issues in the banking industry, which leads to better policies and procedures. Initiatives such as Confirmation of Payee and Open Banking re being implemented to make online banking safer for everyone, in a bid to cut down the £11bn a year that fraud costs the UK.

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