Consumer complaints about financial products and services providers soared in the past year, stretching resources of the Financial Ombudsman Service to the limit as it had to both deal with caseload and try to ensure its messages got out properly through the hundreds of public meetings attended by its staff
Unsurprisingly, mortgage endowments made up more than half the 98,000 new complaints lodged – itself a 57% increase on the previous year’s figures.
The number of endowment complaints jumped to 57,917 from 13,570 in 2002/3, and this area now accounts for half the FOS’ workload.
Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman, warns in the report that the number of endowment mis-selling complaints may increase again this year.
”Before the volume of complaints stabilises, we may see the number of mortgage endowment cases rise attain, as consumers respond to specific warnings about imminent deadlines for complaining.”
Split capital investment trust and precipice bond mis-selling claims have also pushed the FOS hard . The service budgeted for a total of 60,000 cases in the past year, but the additional load has forced it to re-plan its budget, including recruiting an additional 100 staff.
The FOS claims its mediation process is working, because 92% of cases handled are settled without formal ombudsman powers being required to make binding decisions.
Copies of the full report are available from the FOS website. Alternatively copies can be had by telephoning 0845 080 1800.IFAonline
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