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Friends fined £675,000 for mis-handling mortgage endowment complaints

Friends Provident has been fined £675,000 for mis-handling of mortgage endowment complaints. The Financial Services Authority said Friends was guilty of failures in its procedures between October 2001 and February 2003 which led to the mis-handling of mortgage endowment complaints.

Friends Provident received 21,788 mortgage endowment complaints between March 2000, when its dedicated complaints handling team was established, and February 2003, when its defective procedures were replaced.

The FSA says approximately 5,500 customers whose complaints were rejected were exposed to the risk that their complaints were in fact genuine and deserving of redress, but were rejected because the procedures were inherently not fair and were biased against customers.

FSA director of enforcement Andrew Procter : “Firms should be under no illusion as to the standards expected in relation to complaints handling. We will not tolerate poor systems which expose consumers to the risk that genuine complaints, which may deserve compensation, are rejected unfairly.

“Friends Provident and its senior management failed to respond in an effective and timely manner to FSA guidance and to correct problems found in its systems when it had reasonable opportunity to do so. It is a firm&#39s responsibility to ensure that its practices are fair and we will continue to monitor firms&#39 complaints handling. Firms found to be failing their customers face regulatory action.”

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