PPI complaints reach record levels

The Financial Ombudsman received 160,000 PPI complaints in the 2011/12 financial year.

Sixty per cent of the total 1.2million complaints received by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) last year were about the sale of payment protection insurance (PPI) -  the highest number of complaints to the Ombudsman about a single financial product.

Of the PPI complaints, 7 out of 10 were brought to the Ombudsman by claims companies, a tenth less than the previous year. The FOS said that this was due to consumers realising they do not need a third party to make a PPI claim.

All areas of the UK saw increases in the number of complaints, although the report identified Glasgow, Swansea and Bristol as "complaint hot spots".

The number of investment-related complaints fell by 4% and banking complaints declined by 1% – while insurance complaints other than PPI cases rose by 31%.

The number of complaints against financial advisers fell from 3,092 to 2,643 for the 2011/2012 financial year. Financial advisers now represent just 1% of all FOS complaints.

A spokesperson for the FOS said: "This year has been a struggle for many consumers, who have found themselves burdened by debt, besieged by claims companies and bewildered by the complexity of financial services. This has made our work at the ombudsman service more challenging – but more crucial – than ever before.

"I believe there's something we can all learn from what we've seen this year – to help prevent future problems and complaints. What's gone wrong in the past doesn't need to happen again – as long as we remember that "complaints" are about real people, not numbers, and that "complaints handling" is about customer service, not box ticking."

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