Banks and building societies faced soaring complaints made against them by consumers in 2011, with 1.6 million registered in the second half of 2011 alone.
The new figures released by the Financial Services Authority show a 27% rise from the first six months of the year, highlighting the level of dissatisfaction among customers.
The payment protection insurance (PPI) scandal was behind much of it with close to one million PPI complaints registered between 1 July and 31 December 2011. Complaints about ‘advising, selling and arranging’ rose 69% from the same period the previous year, to almost 1.1 million.
Barclays the most complained about bank
Barclays had almost 283,000 complaints across its whole business with more than 122,000 relating to general insurance and pure protection and a further 16,000 related to banking.
Bank of Scotland was the recipient of 138,000 complaints relating to general insurance and pure protection, which includes PPI, while Royal Bank of Scotland received a further 65,000. The two firms kept the FSA busy with 310,000 complaints across their range of services.
Lloyds received more than 240,000 complaints across the board, while Santander had 209,000, dominated by its banking and general insurance and pure protection division. It also received 2,000 complaints relating to investments.
Almost £2 billion was paid back to PPI customers in 2011 with RBS, Barclays, Santander and HSBC all heavily impacted.
FSA must take action
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, says: ‘Today’s complaints data is evidence that some banks are still failing to treat their customers fairly when things go wrong. The increase in PPI complaints further demonstrates just how widespread PPI mis-selling was.
‘We now need to see the banks take action and deal with these complaints quickly and efficiently and the Financial Services Authority must take action against anyone dragging their feet settling complaints.
‘We need the new financial regulator, the FCA, to be a watchdog not a lapdog. It must stand up for consumers and stand up to the banks.’