Business

Payday loan complaints more than triple

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Payday loan complaints have risen sharply but the list of gripes about financial products is still dominated by payment protection insurance (PPI).

The number of complaints about payday lenders more than tripled to 4,186 in the first half of the year compared with the previous six months.

The Financial Ombudsman, which compiled the figures, said borrowers had become more aware of their rights.

The payday industry said that a falling proportion of complaints were upheld.

The numbers are still dwarfed by PPI complaints, which totalled 91,381 in the six months to June, accounting for 54% of new cases considered by the ombudsman.

There were 169,132 new cases on the books of the ombudsman in the first half of the year. They relate to a range of consumer complaints about banks, insurers and other financial businesses.

This was a 3% rise on the previous six months.

The ombudsman only deals with disputes that cannot be resolved between a consumer and a financial institution, so only reflects a fraction of the total number of unhappy customers.

It found in consumers' favour in just under half (48%) of cases completed in the first half of the year.

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The figures show that payday lending was one area in which complaints had risen in the first half of the year, up from 1,213 in the previous six months. Some 53% of payday complaints were upheld.

The ombudsman said the rise was partly due to greater consumer awareness of their rights.

The Consumer Finance Association, which represents some of the major payday providers, claimed most customers felt they were treated better by payday operators than by other types of lenders.

Russell Hamblin-Boone, the association's chief executive, said: "We are obviously disappointed with the number of complaints, but this must be viewed in perspective. Of around a million loans funded there were about 2,000 upheld complaints.

"The true picture is represented by a recent customer satisfaction survey by Smart Money People, which showed that 95% of short-term credit customers felt they were treated fairly against an average of 88% of all credit customers."

PPI complaints - made by those who felt they had been mis-sold the loan insurance - fell slightly compared to the second half of 2015, continuing a trend.

'Significant challenge'

Chief financial ombudsman Caroline Wayman said that PPI still weighed heavily on the organisation's workload.

"Although it is a few years now since PPI complaints peaked, we have been receiving over 3,000 a week for six years running - despite wider expectations that numbers will fall," she said. "We are continuing to deal with the issues and uncertainties around PPI which remain a significant challenge for everyone involved."


What is PPI?

PPI was designed to cover loan repayments if the policyholder fell ill or lost their job.

About 45 million policies were sold over the course of 20 years from 1990.

However, it became clear that it was mis-sold on an industrial scale to people who didn't want or need it - or would not be eligible to claim.


The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants to set a June 2019 deadline for people to make claims over mis-sold PPI. Banks have so far paid out £24bn in compensation.

The UK's five biggest banks have set aside £32.6bn to deal with the total compensation bill.

This is the major reason why the largest number of complaints made to the ombudsman in the first six months of the year was about Lloyds Banking Group.

The Bank of Scotland and Barclays were next on the list.

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