IT issues at UK banks spark rise in complaints about current accounts, FOS data shows

Maria Nikolova

The UK Financial Ombudsman Service received around 1,000 more enquiries and 800 more complaints about current accounts in the quarter to end-September than in the previous quarter.

The UK Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has earlier today published its statistics for the quarter to end-September 2018, with the data revealing a steep rise in the volume of complaints about current accounts.

The FOS received 182,819 enquiries and 98,346 new complaints in the three months to September 30, 2018, with 11, 371 complaints passed to an ombudsman for a final decision. On average, the FOS upheld 31% of the complaints it resolved.

The FOS received around 1,000 more enquiries and 800 more complaints about current accounts than in the previous quarter. The uphold rate for these complaints also increased from 34% to 60%. This rise is primarily due to recent problems with banking IT systems, the FOS explains.

The numbers are in line with a Consumer Factsheet the Ombudsman released in September this year. The document was dedicated to recent IT issues that have affected the operations of several banks, including RBS, TSB, NatWest, and Barclays. The publication of the Factsheet is in response to the growing volume of enquiries that the FOS has to deal with related to the recent computer troubles at the financial institutions.

The FOS explains that the first steps that the customers have to take include getting in touch with the bank and letting the bank know what happened to them because of the computer problems; what the customers want the bank to do to help put things right for them; and what losses the customers want the bank to cover.

If the customers are unhappy with how their bank deals with their problems, they can contact the FOS. The Service can usually get involved 15 days after a customer has raised concerns with the bank – and sometimes even sooner.

Losses that people have already complained about include fees, charges and fines.

Let’s recall that the IT issues that have plagued the services of some UK banks have attracted the attention of the UK Treasury Committee. The Committee chair has requested answers from Natwest and Barclays over the IT issues affecting their customers. She has written to Jes Staley, Chief Executive Officer of Barclays, and Ross McEwan, Chief Executive Officer of RBS Group, to find out what has gone wrong, the extent of the failure, and how both banks intend to compensate customers who suffered losses as a result.

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