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annual review 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005 - the complaints we received

at the front-line

Our customer contact division provides our front-line for all consumer enquiries - by phone, letter and email. During the year we handled 614,148 front-line enquiries - a 12% increase on the year before that (following a 19% increase the year previously). This means we are now handling more than 1,500 phone calls and over 1,250 pieces of new correspondence every day from consumers - with questions, concerns and complaints about the way they believe they have been treated by financial firms.

front-line enquiries from consumers

2005

  • 285,149 written enquiries
  • 328,999 phone enquiries
  • 614,148 total enquiries

2004

  • 256,446 written enquiries
  • 291,892 phone enquiries
  • 548,338 total enquiries

2003

  • 196,786 written enquiries
  • 265,554 phone enquiries
  • 462,340 total enquiries

year ended 31 March

Where consumers contact us before raising their complaint with the firm, our customer contact division forwards the complaint to the firm and asks it to investigate the matter under its formal complaints procedure. We remind consumers that they can ask us to get involved directly if the firm is not able to resolve their complaint within eight weeks.

Our customer contact division also gives general advice and guidance to consumers with enquiries. At this early stage, we try to nip straightforward problems in the bud, before they become full-blown disputes. For example, where a problem stems from a simple administrative error or misunderstanding between the customer and the firm, it might only take a few phone calls for us to sort things out.

A key part of this complaints-resolution work involves our customer contact division intervening at the earliest stage in mortgage endowment complaints - for example, by providing information and guidance to consumers whose complaints arise from confusion or uncertainty about redress already on offer from the firm. In many of these cases, the consumer is concerned that there is still something wrong, because the amount of compensation offered does not match the estimated shortfall shown on the “re-projection” letter that the firm sent them. We can resolve many of these early complaints by clarifying - from an entirely independent standpoint - the regulatory approach to mortgage endowment compensation, and by explaining how redress has been calculated in these cases to comply with guidance set by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). During the year our customer contact division resolved 12,721 complaints in this way - complaints which would otherwise have become full-blown cases.

An increasing number of consumers are getting the information they want directly from our website, rather than phoning us or writing to us directly. Over 95,000 people visit our website each month (a 25% annual increase - following a similarly-sized increase the year before). Three-quarters of those who logged on during the year were first-time visitors.

Where further work is needed to resolve complaints, our customer contact division acts as the gateway to our specialist casework teams of adjudicators.

new cases referred to our adjudicators

In the year ended 31 March 2005, our customer contact division referred 110,963 new cases to our adjudicators for more detailed dispute-resolution work - a 13% increase on the previous year. This continues the upward trend of recent years.

The increase in new cases during the year resulted mainly from the continued high volumes of mortgage endowment disputes being referred to the ombudsman service. We received just under 70,000 new cases about mortgage endowment mis-selling - the highest number so far, and a 34% increase on the number of mortgage endowment complaints received in the previous year. This meant that almost two thirds of new cases during the year were mortgage endowment complaints - compared with around a half the previous year (and under a quarter the year before that).

number of new cases each year

  • 2005 - 110,963 new cases
  • 2004 - 97,901 new cases
  • 2003 - 62,170 new cases
  • 2002 - 43,330 new cases
  • 2001 - 31,347 new cases
  • 2000 - 25,000 new cases

year ended 31 March

new cases by type of complaint

2005

  • 69,737 mortgage endowment cases (63% of all complaints)
  • 19,251 other investment-related cases (17% of all complaints)
  • 10,491 banking-related cases (9.5% of all complaints)
  • 11,484 insurance-related cases (10.5% of all complaints)
  • 110,963 new cases in total

2004

  • 51,917 mortgage endowment cases (53% of all complaints)
  • 25,157 other investment-related cases (26% of all complaints)
  • 9,798 banking-related cases (10% of all complaints)
  • 11,029 insurance-related cases (11% of all complaints)
  • 97,901 new cases in total

2003

  • 13,570 mortgage endowment cases (22% of all complaints)
  • 23,872 other investment-related cases (38% of all complaints)
  • 15,070 banking-related cases (24% of all complaints)
  • 9,658 insurance-related cases (16% of all complaints)
  • 62,170 new cases in total

2002

  • 14,595 mortgage endowment cases (34% of all complaints)
  • 13,711 other investment-related cases (31% of all complaints)
  • 8,117 banking-related cases (19% of all complaints)
  • 6,907 insurance-related cases (16% of all complaints)
  • 43,330 new cases in total

2001

  • 9,067 mortgage endowment cases (29% of all complaints)
  • 9,568 other investment-related cases (30% of all complaints)
  • 6,153 banking-related cases (20% of all complaints)
  • 6,559 insurance-related cases (21% of all complaints)
  • 31,347 new cases in total

year ended 31 March

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