James Daley: Naming and shaming wins for consumers
Saturday 21 March 2009
It won't surprise you to hear that, every year, British financial services firms rack up thousands of complaints. It also won't surprise you to discover that these firms aren't particularly keen on telling people just how many complaints they receive.
What we do know, however, is that the Financial Ombudsman Service – which acts as an arbiter after consumers have had their initial complaints rejected by a company – deals with more than 100,000 cases a year. And that number has been steadily growing ever since the Ombudsman was formed back in 2001.
For some time, the Ombudsman has wanted to publish details of which companies are the worst offenders – an idea that the industry has naturally strongly resisted. They've claimed that naming and shaming won't necessarily achieve the Ombudsman's aims of getting complaints down, and have suggested that publishing the numbers will cause a feeding frenzy from claims management companies, who'll bombard the firms revealed to have had the most cases go against them.
While there may be an element of truth in this, such a feeding frenzy will only provide an even greater incentive for companies to keep themselves out of the list of worst offenders. And, as a result, it's likely that many more businesses will try to settle claims at an earlier stage so that they don't end up getting referred on to the Ombudsman, and don't show up in the numbers.
I think that naming and shaming will prove to be a real victory for consumers. There's nothing that hurts a company's business more than coming bottom of the customer service charts again and again. Furthermore, those who have had the most complaints upheld by the Ombudsman are truly the worst offenders – as these are the companies who have already missed their chance to do the right thing when they first receive a complaint.
I already have a pretty good idea who will be top of the pops in the Ombudsman's new charts. Abbey has long been among the worst at looking after its customers – and complaints about it have all too often ended up in our mail sack at 'The Independent'. Although Abbey is certainly trying to turn this around at the moment, it takes time with such large organisations, and I'm still not convinced that it is making all the right moves.
Although the company has spent millions of pounds updating the antiquated systems it has inherited in recent months, I fear that the takeovers of Alliance & Leicester and Bradford & Bingley will provide it with a new headache. Abbey may feel it is unfair for it to be highlighted as a villain after it rode to the rescue of the collapsing UK banking sector last year, but it took these businesses on because it wanted the market share and knew they would ultimately boost profitability. If complaints rise because they don't make the necessary investment in a smooth merger, then I think it's quite fair that they suffer some public humiliation.
A handful of large organisations – such as HSBC – barely feature in the complaints tables. And if they can manage it, there's no reason why others can't meet the same high standards as well.
Independent Partners: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
filmNymphomaniac is more Carl Dreyer than sexploitation of Russ Meyer
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
scienceScientists find the answer to a question that even puzzled Darwin
arts + entsThe 'Friends' actor on his new role as campaigner on addiction issues
Geoffrey Macnab: The Wolf of Wall Street's account of white-collar excess is A Rake’s Progress on steroids
scienceThe new development in bio-printing technology could be used in the future to restore lost vision - though years of research still await
architectureThe design collective which has stuck two fingers up at the modernists will call it quits at Venice
... But if you’re one of those poor souls offended by Jennifer Lopez’s choice of leotard, Grace Dent want you to get a bloody grip
- 1 Facebook 'self-censorship': study records when you don't post to find more ways to share
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 British prisoner Dr Abbas Khan found dead in Syrian jail days before he was due to be handed over to MP George Galloway
- 4 Vitamin pills are a waste of money, offer no health benefits and could be harmful - study
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
You can STILL be jailed for being a republican, government confirms, and it remains illegal to even 'imagine' overthrowing the Queen
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Fighting back: the woman giving a voice (and 49,999 others) to the victims of sexism - by giving an airing to their horror stories
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£50000 - £75000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Implementation...
£50000 - £65000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Harrington Starr: Project Manage...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: My client deliver into the Investment Managemen...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Harrington S...
Day In a Page
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.
A six-bedroom detached period property with secluded gardens, ample parking and a double garage in Rye, £675,000.