Figures released by The Finance Ombudsman Service have revealed the number of complaints made against Lloyds TSB were higher than those made against any other single business in the second half of 2010. The Ombudsman recorded an increase of complaints across the board and attributed much of the increase to the continued rise in the number of Payment Protection Insurance complaints.
The Lloyds Group, of which Lloyds TSB is a part, received the highest number of complaints for a group with 22,181 with 12,234 of these being specifically about PPI cover. The figures reveal just what a thorn in the side PPI has become to the Lloyds group and how widespread the issue of Payment Protection mis-selling has become. In an apparent attempt to bring a lasting resolution to the problem Lloyds announced in May 2011 that it was allocated £3.2 billion to deal with the PPI issue. The sum is thought to include estimated compensation to be paid to customers as well as the staffing costs that will be incurred.
As a general rule, complaints are only referred to The Financial Ombudsman when they cannot be resolved internally. In the case of PPI this would usually indicate the customer believes they were mis-sold cover, but the bank, in this case Lloyds TSB, is unwilling to admit wrongdoing. If no resolution can be reached within 8 weeks the customer then has the right to escalate their case and request a review by the Ombudsman. This protest costs the customer nothing, but on each occasion a case is referred the lender involved is charged £500 plus any compensation that may also be awarded to the customer. The decision by Lloyds TSB and many other lenders to allocate substantial funds is seen as a clear indication that they wish to improve internal complaints handling procedures and avoid the additional costs of taking claims to the Ombudsman. The problem is that many lenders, including Lloyds, are currently facing huge backlogs of complaints after putting most Payment Protection complaints on hold pending the judicial review. The High Court returned its verdict in April 2010 finding in favour of the Financial Service Authority (FSA). This has forced lenders to accept the new FSA guidelines they were challenging and begin the slow process of catching up on PPI complaints. In order to assist them in this matter The Financial Ombudsman announced in June 2011 that it would allow the lenders up to 16 weeks to resolve complaints internally.
For many years Lloyds TSB, and must other lenders, have sold Payment Protection Insurance alongside loans and credit cards. The cover is designed to take over debt repayments if a customer cannot make payments due to illness, accident or redundancy. The cover has become notorious; however, as it has frequently been mis-sold to customers who do not want or need it or whose circumstances make them unsuitable.
The full extent of the Payment Protection scandal was uncovered by The Office of Fair Trading and the FSA in 2006 and since then there has been a steady rise in the number of PPI claims. The fact that there has been no plateau, and that many complaints relate to relatively new PPI policies, suggests there is still room for much improvement for many lenders. The Chief Executive of Which? the consumer rights champion has suggested the continued increase is the result of the high bonuses offered to staff. In a statement he said: 'when bonus structures reward staff for selling products which may be unsuitable, is it any wonder that we are seeing this level of complaints?' He went on to add that he felt banks were 'rejecting thousands of legitimate complaints.'
It is hoped that the decision by Lloyds and several other leading lenders shows a final acknowledgment of the scale of the Payment Protection issue and a willingness to deal with complaints swiftly and more decisively.
If you have been mis-sold an insurance policy on a loan or credit card from Lloyds TSB or any other lender you can start reclaiming PPI today. Just complete the quick claim form on this site or call our claims team on 0207 471 2000. We have already helped 60,000 and are proud to have claimed back over £50 million. Remember, you may have been mis-sold a policy on a loan, mortgages, store card, credit card or even a hire purchase agreement and you can even make a claim if you have already paid off your loan or no longer use your card.