Three quarters of bank complaints upheld

New figures released by the Financial Ombudsman Service have revealed that three quarters of complaints made against some of Britain's biggest banks were upheld by watchdogs last year.

Three quarters of bank complaints upheld
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During the second half of 2010 nearly 100,000 complaints were raised, a rise of 15 per cent from the first six months of last year.

Of those, an astonishing 53 per cent were initially dismissed by the banks themselves before the ombudsman found in favour of customers.

The increase is believed to be in part due to the mis-selling of payment protection insurance but bad advice and unfair charges were also cause for complaint.

Lloyds received the highest number, with 12,234 complaints raised while the Bank of Scotland (a subsidiary of Lloyds) received a further 6,743. Meanwhile the Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest group totalled 7,000 complaints, of which more than 50 per cent were upheld, and of the 6,500 Barclays customers who complained, the average success rate was 56 per cent.

A spokesman for the British Bankers Association explained to the Daily Mail: "In such a vast industry - there are more than 140 million accounts and billions of transactions every year - there will inevitably be instances where things go wrong.

"Most complaints are resolved to the customer's satisfaction by the individual bank and it tends to be the more complex issues that are passed to the ombudsman."

However Peter Vicary-Smith, chief executive of consumer watchdog Which?, suggested that the banks' tendency to reward staff for selling financial products was to blame.

"When bonus structures reward staff for selling products which may be unsuitable is it any wonder that we are seeing this level of complaints?" he said.

Mr Vicary-Smith added that it was down to the Financial Services Authority to force a change in the industry.

What do you think? Should the banks reward staff for good service rather than sales? Leave your comments below...