Speculation over whether packaged bank accounts could be the next PPI scandal is set to continue after the number of complaints to the industry watchdog rose yet again.
According to the Financial Ombudsman Service, it the number of complaints it received relating to packaged accounts between October and December 2015 was higher than the previous quarter.
Packaged accounts are current accounts that come with a ‘package’ of features from travel insurance and breakdown cover to deals on overdrafts and loans, usually for a monthly fee.
Speculation has been rising as to whether the fee-paying accounts will form the basis for the next PPI scandal, with the number of consumers complaining about them steadily rising.
The accounts are great moneyspinners for banks, but critics say many consumers never use the extras they are regularly paying for.
Concerns have also been raised that some banks have been mis-selling the accounts or pressurising customers into buying them.
In the Financial Ombudsman Service’s complaint figures for the third quarter of the 2015/16 financial year, packaged bank accounts were the second-most complained about product, with the number of new cases – 10,450 – up slightly from the previous quarter.
The figures, which cover the new complaints received during October, November and December 2015, showed that PPI remained the most complained about financial product, with 43,982 new cases in the third quarter.
Despite the slight rise in complaints about packaged bank accounts, PPI still made up 55% of the complaints received by the ombudsman in October, November and December 2015.
Complaints relating to other products made up 45%, with packaged bank accounts comprising 13%.
During the quarter, the watchdog handled 127,965 enquiries from consumers, taking on 79,338 new cases, while 12,774 complaints were passed to an ombudsman as the final stage of the complaints handling process.
The number of complaints about packaged bank accounts may be catching up with those on PPI, but the proportion that were upheld is far less.
The ombudsman said the proportion of complaints upheld in favour of consumers was 54%.
But while the proportion for PPI complaints was 67%, it was just 18% for gripes about packaged bank accounts.
Other products included overdrafts and loans, insurance policies, mortgages and current accounts.
If complaints about packaged bank accounts continue to rise, some have speculated that it could have as huge an impact as the PPI scandal.
Complaints about payment protection insurance have already cost the banking industry nearly £30bn after it emerged that PPI policies that were meant to protect people if they found themselves unable to pay debts for an unavoidable reason had been sold to millions of customers who would never have been eligible to claim.