Personal Finance: Banks improve - official
Sunday 10 December 1995
I have always been a fan of the financial ombudsmen - free schemes for arbitration on complaints that you cannot resolve with your bank, insurer orbuilding society. As well as not charging consumers for (hopefully) getting satisfaction, the ombudsmen have also proved useful in improving customer service generally by publishing their opinions and the thrust of their rulings every year.
Last week, the Banking Ombudsman reported a fall in complaints year on year to his office. However, the fall could also reflect that the banks are improving their own handling of gripes, rather than there simply being fewer complaints overall. There were still nearly written 7,000 complaints that ended up with the Ombudsman.
Mortgage gripes topped the league, replacing those about cashpoints (phantom withdrawals et al).
Some of the latest outrages involve Mortgage Indemnity Guarantee (MIG) policies - the policies that, bizarrely, we pay for to protect lenders against any shortfall on a forced sale should they decide to repossess. Insurers have been pursuing repossessed borrowers for money paid out to banks under these policies. The Ombudsman says once these policies have been triggered that should be the end of it, and he believes the courts would back his view.
Elsewhere, banks have miscalculated mortgage repayments, leaving borrowers with a shortfall at the end of their scheduled repayments, while others have failed to set up endowment policies. Unfortunately, you still owe the banks money, says the Ombudsman, but substantial compensation may well reduce the amount significantly.
My one real complaint about ombudsmen is that they won't publish league tables of offenders. What better incentive for financial organisations to improve their act? (The Banking Ombudsman is on 0171 404 9944).
ALLIANCE & Leicester building society is getting there - getting closer to becoming a bank I mean. Last week, it removed membership status from new instant access accounts and upped the minimum opening balance on other qualifying accounts. Accounts carrying membership - which confers the right to vote on any takeover or conversion into a bank - are the ones most likely to qualify for windfall gains if a change of status occurs. The society says it wants to discourage speculative savers.
New savers now need pounds 5,000 (pounds 1,000 if they open a Tessa), to become society members. But for those with the money, placing your stake with the A&L may well still be worthwhile. It remains a top tip to convert.
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...
$125 - $175 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Senior Wealth Manager In...
$200 - $350 per annum: Carlton Senior Appointments: Managing Producer Office...