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Spend & Save

For some, the customer is always wrong


Figures showing how well financial firms deal with customer complaints are always interesting. While we expect that the biggest firms – the high street banks – will have the most complaints, it’s interesting to find out which have the most upheld against them.

As a general rule, you can bet that any company that has more than three quarters of complaints upheld against it has got things completely wrong or has simply given up trying to pretend it cares about customers who complain.

So data published by the Financial Ombudsman Service today about complaints for the first six months of this year revealed a selection of companies which seemingly believe the customer is always wrong.

The worst? A firm called Secret Eye which had a shocking 94 per cent of complaints against it upheld. Haven’t heard of it? Neither had I. Turns out it’s a loan broker which trades under the name of The Finance Facility. I only mention the name so that you know to avoid it if you ever have the misfortune to have to resort to a loans broker.

There were also two firms that had 93 per cent of their complaints upheld, a similarly shocking amount. They are both lenders: Ocean Finance & Mortgages (a closed company that now deals with historic PPI complaints) is the first while the second is MBNA, the credit card issuer which is part of the massive Bank of American Merrill Lynch Group.

Compared to these firms, the high street banks look positively customer-focused, with the much-maligned Lloyds, for instance, only having 66 per cent of complaints against it upheld.

But that’s nowhere near good enough. So which firms emerge with credit, if any? Just three building societies which all clocked in at a creditable five per cent or less of customer complaints upheld. The mutuals concerned are the Coventry, the Nottingham and the Principality. If you’re lucky enough to be with them, it seems you can expect decent customer care.