The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau opened its complaints database for public viewing today, and just a fraction of those complaints relate to bread-and-butter retail banking.
Specifically, 17% of the customer complaints by volume related to bank accounts or services, while 50% of the overall complaints in the database regard mortgages.
Of the bank account-related complaints, the most common issue (41%) related to “Account” management.
The database contains about 90,000 complaints and is sortable by product (Bank accounts or services, Credit cards, Mortgages, Student loans, Other consumer loan), as well as by complaint type, company, and many other criteria.
The database does not appear to specify the reason or text of each complaint. It does, however, specify whether a complaint has been addressed by the company and how long it took to do so.
The database is also available for access via API, so should we expect to see some interesting mashups built around this data?
The CFPB’s Consumer Response Annual Report (PDF) for 2012 describes the problems with bank accounts or services in this way:
As the table illustrates, the most common type of bank account and service complaint relates to opening, closing, or managing the account. These complaints address issues such as confusing marketing, denial, fees, statements, and joint accounts. Other common complaints relate to deposit and withdrawal issues, such as transaction holds and unauthorized transactions, and problems caused by the consumer’s funds being low, including bounced checks, overdraft and late fees, and credit reporting. Many consumers remain frustrated with overdraft fees and the wide discretion companies have to assess these and other fees so long as the fees are outlined in account agreements. Similarly, some consumers express frustration when some companies process larger withdrawal transactions before smaller ones, which can generate more overdraftfee charges.
The database will be updated daily. A table further describing the complaints presented in the pie chart is presented below.