Churchill and Direct Line fined for being filthy file tamperers
Insurance clowns Direct Line and Churchill (both owned by RBS incidentally) have been fined £2.17m for tampering with customer complaint files before submitting them to the Financial Services Authority (FSA). That's lousy isn't it?
The FSA said: "The firms failed to give clear instructions resulting in staff making inappropriate alterations with one individual even forging the signatures of colleagues.
"The firms' management did not know what changes had been made or when [but] it is of critical importance that material provided to the FSA must reflect the picture as it is - not as they might like it to be."
Paul Geddes, chief executive of RBS Insurance, said: "We very much regret the findings of the FSA investigation. Although no customers were disadvantaged, we are very disappointed that we did not meet the standards we expect of ourselves and which the FSA expects of us."
The tampering happened when the insurers tried to deal with the FSA's inquiries, which have been going for three years. The inquiries were to look at the way financial firms deal with customers' complaints. Of course, RBS have previous with FSA fines, getting a £2.8m slap in the face in January 2011 for failing to adequately deal with routine complaints from customers.
And now, in the case of the insurance subsidiaries, the FSA asked for a sample of 50 complaints so a review could be undertaken. Before handing them over, the insurers management got external accountants to carry out their own review, finding that over a quarter of complaints were likely to fail the FSA's assessment. That is when the companies started tampering with the files to make sure they were all up-to-scratch.
The FSA state that 27 of the 50 had been tampered with and seven contained signatures of employees, which had been forged by one member of staff. "In this case, the alterations did not impact on the FSA's ability to do our job," the FSA said.