Barclays complaints jump as UK banks feel mis-selling pain

LONDON Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:05am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Complaints by customers of Barclays Plc (BARC.L) have soared due to a near four-fold increase related to the mis-selling of insurance products, the British bank said on Friday, a pattern likely to be repeated by rivals when they report their data.

Barclays said on Friday that complaints in the six months to the end of June hit 442,000, up 76 percent from the first half of 2011, as the number of complaints about payment protection insurance (PPI) jumped to 280,000.

PPI is at the centre of a mis-selling scandal affecting millions of customers that banks are now having to pay compensation to. Policies were typically taken out alongside a personal loan or mortgage to cover repayments if customers fell ill or lost jobs, but they were often sold to people who would never have been able to claim.

A surge in complaints handled by claims management companies about credit card fees also increased Barclays' number.

Jumps in PPI and claims management complaints are likely to be shown by all UK banks. Barclays was the first big bank to release data, and all have to do so on Friday.

Barclays Chief Executive Antony Jenkins, who was promoted from retail banking boss on Thursday and has said cutting complaints is a priority, said the rise was disappointing but would be "a small blip" on an improving trend.

Britain's banks had paid out 5.4 billion pounds for mis-selling PPI up to the end of June, and the final bill could double that.

They paid out 730 million pounds for PPI in May, the highest monthly tally, and 615 million in June, the last month that data are provided. Banks have paid 3.3 billion pounds so far this year, compared with 2.1 billion for all of last year.

Barclays has set aside 1.3 billion for PPI mis-selling. Rival Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY.L) has set aside 4.3 billion pounds, far more than other banks.

Stripping out PPI, Barclays said its complaints were down 9 percent from a year ago, but up 2 percent from the previous six months.

(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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