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PPI complaints increase three-fold

27 May 2009 / by Rebecca Sargent
Complaints surrounding payment protection insurance (PPI) have increased three-fold in just one year, the latest report from the Financial Ombudsman Service has revealed.

The report shows that in total, there were 31,066 PPI complaints in the 2008/2009 tax year, compared to 10,652 complaints the year before – three times as many.

According to the report – which also saw an increase in complaints about mortgages and credit cards – the majority of payment protection insurance complaints involved disputes over the sale of PPI.

Many consumers have complained because they felt pressurised into buying policies, while others did not realise they had agreed to a policy. Other complaints related to single-premium policies, where consumers did not realise they were borrowing the money up front to pay for the PPI policy.

Of those complaints, the Ombudsman found that in 89 per cent, the outcome was changed in favour of the consumer, which, it claims, "suggests there is still a widespread problem involving businesses rejecting complaints that they know, or should know, we will uphold."

Ombudsman chairman Sir Christopher Kelly said of the Ombudsman's increased overall workload: "The rise in workload was driven by significant surges in complaints resulting from single-issue consumer campaigns.

"In particular, we received over 30,000 new cases about payment-protection insurance (PPI) and 18,500 complaints about credit cards – these two issues together making up around 40 per cent of our total workload."

He added: "The high volume of complaints about payment protection insurance was especially disappointing. We had hoped that action by the regulator might result in the collective resolution of large numbers of complaints without the continuing need for consumers to refer individual cases to us."

Speaking of the need for a solution, chief ombudsman, Walter Merricks said: "A solution to the problem would reduce the volatility of the ombudsman service's workload, adjust unrealistic expectations of what we can be expected to deliver, and ease tensions between the financial services industry, its regulator and its ombudsman."

"Above all," he added, "it would be a real step towards re-establishing the confidence of consumers in financial services."

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