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FOS to name and shame

The Financial Ombudsman Service says it will publish business-specific complaint data every six months, starting from September 2009.

It will publish the data in respect of financial businesses with at least 30 new cases and 30 closed cases during the six-month period.

The data will comprise the numbers of new cases and the percentage of closed cases where there has been a change of outcome in favour of the consumer.

It will also publish the average percentage change in outcome (based on all the cases we have resolved in respect of all financial businesses during the relevant period).

The Ombudsman will provide a breakdown of the data according to the five product groups that the FSA intends to use for complaints reporting from August 2009.

This will cover, banking, home finance (including mortgages), general insurance and pure protection, decumulation, life and pensions and investments.

FOS says some people have raised concerns about it publishing the data such as whether it could undermine consumer confidence in financial services as a whole and further increase the savings and protection gap.

While others were worried there could be unintended consequences such as financial businesses choosing to pay unjustified complaints or to pay inflated redress in order to keep cases away from the ombudsman service and thus manage their figures.

However, FOS says: A number of public-interest arguments have been put forward in favour of publishing business-specific complaint data. But the key consideration is that, having carefully considered the position, we believe that publishing the data will facilitate the resolution of disputes quickly and with minimum formality.

The complaint-handling rules require consumers to give financial businesses up to eight weeks to try and resolve complaints before they can be referred to the ombudsman service. So the differing approaches of different financial businesses to complaint-handling play a key role in shaping the inflow of work to the ombudsman service and its subsequent handling.”

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