Britain’s banks were swamped by millions of last minute PPI claims before the deadline ran out at midnight on August 29th.
The massive rush to beat the clock resulted in Santander, Barclays, Royal Bank Of Scotland (RBS) and the Co-op Bank all scrambling to fix website glitches which were preventing customers registering their complaint in time.
Extending the deadline
Santander even took the step of unilaterally extending the deadline until 8pm on Friday.
A notice on their website said: “Due to the high volume of customers contacting us about PPI, you can continue to make a PPI complaint or to submit PPI inquiries using the details below.”
Many disgruntled customers took to social media to complain about the delays with one NatWest customer claiming the call centre hung up on him after he complained the website was down:
Some couldn’t find how to complain:
Others complained phone lines were jammed for hours as they tried to get through. Lloyds customers reported waits of more than two hours.
It is understood that many bank websites were telling consumers they could make postal complaints right up to the midnight deadline, despite the strong possibility the letters would not reach their destination before the shutters came down.
It is not clear how these complaints will be treated.
Questions are now being asked about what will happen to all those people who didn’t manage to beat the deadline because of the technical problems.
A spokesman for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) hinted that lenders could extend the deadline, saying: “We have no plans to extend the 29 August 2019 deadline.
This has been widely publicised, and it is clear from the high level of consumer activity that the FCA and firms have seen that people are well aware of the deadline.
“Where a firm knows that customers may have had trouble accessing their services (whether website or phone) … then we would expect them to apply a pragmatic approach to dealing with complaints received immediately after the deadline.”
James Daley, of consumer group Fairer Finance, agreed that the deadline should not prevent the banks treating their customers fairly, particularly the vulnerable.
He said: “If there are detailed cases where a customer with exceptional circumstances couldn’t meet that deadline, or for vulnerable customers, I would say it still falls within the banks’ responsibility to hear those cases.”
All the banks apologised for the delays and problems, blaming ‘unprecedented volumes of claims’ in a very short space of time.
It is unclear at the moment what action they will take regarding complaints from customers who were not able to register in time.
£36 billion and rising
The current level of compensation paid out by the industry stands at £36 billion on the FCA’s website, but those figures are two months out of date.
For the past year the total has been increasing at an average of more than £⅓ billion a month which indicates another £600 million is likely to be paid out up to the deadline date.
However, it is impossible to say how many of the millions of last minute claims will be successful as the lenders need to investigate the claims before a final decision is made and redress is only paid if the policy was found to be mis-sold.
Respected think tank New City Agenda has produced a report claiming that the true cost of the biggest ever financial scandal the UK has ever seen could be at least £48.5 billion and other sources have suggested it could top more than £50 billion.
By the time all last minute claims and those disputed ones which rest with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) have been processed it is likely to be well into the New Year before the final cost can be tallied.