Which? today calls for Wednesday’s Emergency Budget to trigger a review of how financial companies are treating customers.
Before the election, it was announced that Ros Altmann would be given ministerial responsibility for financial consumer protection – with one of her first roles being to lead a review of how consumers are treated by financial firms.
However, although Baroness Altmann has been appointed Pensions Minister, there has been no indication of whether this review of financial fairness will now take place.
Meanwhile, many consumers remain frustrated with financial products and services, including charges.
Customer complaints about charges
Which? research consistently finds the big banks tend to score at or below average for customer satisfaction. On top of this our analysis of complaints made to financial institutions, collated by the Financial Conduct Authority, shows that since 2010 complaints about mortgages have risen by 50% and insurance by 23%.
Which? has also analysed data from the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) – where people take complaints that their bank or building society hasn’t resolved. This analysis shows that in the last year alone, around 80,000 complaints were about banking and credit cards, with around one in five (17%) of these about charges.
The data also show charges have been the third most complained about area since FOS began, only behind the big mis-selling scandals of payment protection insurance (PPI) and endowment mortgages.
Previous Which? research has also found that people are losing out on £4.3bn a year by leaving savings in poor value accounts, and three quarters (75%) don’t think banks do enough to help people get a good deal.
Call for review in Emergency Budget
Which? is calling on the government to ensure the review prioritises the following:
- The fees and charges consumers face, which are often not displayed clearly or in a way that makes them easy to compare.
- How firms treat consumers, including their sales practices and how they handle complaints.
- Competition and innovation in the cash savings and payday loan markets, to ensure consumers are a getting a better deal following the recent investigations by the regulators.
- Consumer rights in the mortgage market, including age discrimination and mortgage prisoners, in light of the recent changes to lending rules.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘These issues are too important to kick into the long grass. The government needs to continue the work it has already started in this sector and take a closer look at how people are being treated.
‘We want to see an end to fees that are excessive and difficult to understand, we want improvements in customer service, and for it to be easier for people to compare and find the best deal. This would fix many of the frustrations that consumers have, and should also help drive competition.’