Barclays tops FSA complaints league

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The Independent Online

Barclays is still the UK's most complained-about bank after figures showed more than 250,000 new disputes were recorded in the first half of this year.

The league table based on figures from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) revealed that Barclays received 251,563 complaints, followed by Lloyds TSB with 181,907 and Santander with 168,888.

Barclays also topped the chart during the second half of last year, with more than 205,000 complaints, although the banking giant pointed out that the latest figure was down 14% on the same period last year.

It has cut the number of complaints directly related to banking and said much of the rise was due to complaints relating to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance (PPI), an issue which has affected the whole sector.

Retail banking boss Antony Jenkins said: "We have made good progress in reducing complaints, with a substantial and sustainable reduction in banking complaints by nearly a third.

"However, there is much more to be done and we are working hard to further improve our service to our customers; putting them at the heart of our business and getting it right first time, every time."

The FSA said the total number of complaints about controversial PPI surged by 23% to 531,667.

The insurance, which looks set to become the UK's biggest ever mis-selling scandal, covers debt repayments if the holder is unable to work due to an accident or illness, or if they lose their job.

In May, the banking industry dropped its legal challenge over whether new FSA rules on PPI mis-selling claims could be applied retrospectively.

This means more than three million people are in line for compensation, with firms facing a total bill of up to £9 billion.

The FSA said the proportion of complaints which were upheld also went up slightly from 49% in the final six months of last year to 50%.

It had 1,852,284 complaints referred to it in the first half of this year, a 3% increase on the last half of 2010.

The FSA publishes the volume of complaints about firms every six months. Complaints are defined as oral or written expressions of dissatisfaction, whether or not they are justified.

Firms do not have to report complaints that are resolved to the customer's satisfaction by the close of business the day after the complaint was made.

The FSA data showed that 205,290 complaints were dealt with by Barclays in the half year, out of which 53% were upheld by the firm.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith called on the regulator to make it easier for dissatisfied customers to switch banks.

He said: "The big high street banks attract a huge number of complaints and have a poor track record for customer satisfaction, yet few people vote with their feet by switching providers. This shows that the market isn't working.

"We need to create a market where banks have to compete for their customers with good value products and better service.

"The regulator must act to promote competition by dramatically improving the switching process so banks have a simple choice - look after your customers or lose them."