A growing number of customers complaining to financial services companies are treated in a 'dismal' fashion, according to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).
Chief Ombudsman, Walter Merricks, accused some firms of handling complaints with a "weary cynicism", while his research found this unhelpful approach is deterring almost half of consumers from taking their complaints further.
"We are seeing a growing number of cases where customers who have complained to a financial business appear to have experienced treatment that is nothing short of dismal," Merricks writes in the latest edition of FOS publication, Ombudsman News.
"Some in the financial services industry - currently facing significant business challenges - appear to be taking the jaundiced view that having a large number of complaining customers is just an unfortunate fact of life."
"So they seem to be geared up simply to dispose of complaints at minimum cost - and with minimal attention to the individual facts and circumstances," he adds.
As a result, customers turning to the ombudsman "feel angry, ignored and let down by the financial institutions they have dealt with," say Merricks.
Poor handling of complaints can mean a case may not be properly considered until it reaches the ombudsman service, creating an extra workload for the FOS.
"We are caused additional work when we have to spend time and resources chasing files and gathering information that the business itself should have put together and considered when it first became aware of the complaint," he says.
Although high standards of customer service may not seem the top priority in the current economic climate, Merricks warns these same businesses will have to attract new customers when the market picks up.
"They may well discover that consumers have long memories of how well - or otherwise - they were treated in the past," he adds.
Furthermore, over half of consumers who complained to their insurer last year were unsatisfied with the way their case was handled, according to the ABI's Customer Impact Survey report, released last month.
While 55% of customers who made a complaint to their provider felt it had been handled "poorly", only 4% of customers felt their complaint had been handled excellently.IFAonline
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