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Wheatley: Banks’ complaints handling is outrageous and unacceptable

FCA chief executive has also revealed the regulator is investigating over their complaints handling.

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Wheatley attacks banks in front of MPs this morning

FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley has launched a blistering attack on banks’ “outrageous” and “unacceptable” complaints handling as he revealed two more have been referred to enforcement over the way they deal with complaints.

Data published by the Financial Ombudsman Service last week revealed the high level of upheld complaints at several banks in the first half of the year, including Lloyds TSB with 86 per cent of complaints upheld against it.

Conservative MP and Treasury select committee member David Ruffley pointed out the FOS has upheld more than 90 per cent of payment protection insurance claims.

Speaking at a Treasury select committee hearing this week today, Wheatley said: “It is absolutely not acceptable that such a number of rejected complaints by the banks are subsequently found against the banks. It is outrageous those sort of figures are still the case.

“We have been working very hard to look at bank complaints handling. We have taken enforcement action, and we will take more enforcement action and continue to pressure how banks handle complaints through our ongoing supervision and thematic work.

“We have got two large investigations underway and we have completed two where we have levied quite strong fines.”

In January the Co-operative Bank was fined £113,000 over failing to treat customers fairly over PPI payouts while in February Lloyds Banking Group was fined £4.3m over delays in paying PPI claims.

Last week the FCA launched a thematic review into complaint handling at major firms including banks and building societies after claiming it ”isn’t working”. It will publish its recommedations from the review in Q2 2014.

Banking consultant Mehrdad Yousefi says: “Banks’ complaints handling has worsened thanks to the rise in PPI claims, the lack of banking competition, insufficient customer service resources, and a lack of trust in banks generally, which in turn triggers more complaints.”

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