I found the data around the annual number of consumer credit complaints pretty interesting. It’s not surprising that the number of complaints increases every year, and of course there could be any number of reasons for that. If nothing else, the number of consumer credit customers and accounts probably grows every year, leading naturally to a growing number of complaints. What’s interesting to me is the changes in the rate of growth, both in aggregate, and in the sub-categories.
Some of the categories, like Payday Loan, were added more recently, so they only have a couple years of data, which is disappointing. I’d really like to see how complaints about Payday Loans and Debt Collection have trended in particular, but those categories both show their first data in 2013, so the only real comparison years are 2014 to 2015, which isn’t much use for looking at trends.
On the other hand, I was intrigued by how the aggregate data compares to a couple particular sub-categories. Overall, as mentioned earlier, the number of complaints has increased every year, but the rate of increase has been falling. However, in the Bank Account or Service sub-category, the rate of increase rose slightly from ’13 to ’14, and substantially from ’14 to ’15. Does that indicate growing consumer frustration with traditional local-bank services? That would be an interesting development, especially set next to the fact that complaints in the Mortgage category have actually fallen in both of the last two years. Maybe that’s an indication that people are beginning to move past their focused anger around the mortgage crisis, and getting back to being frustrated with the basic checking and savings services that banks offer.
The other category that’s interesting is Credit cards. Complaints in this category actually fell from ’12 to ’13, but then rose again from ’13 to ’14, and rose dramatically (ok, ‘dramatically’ is a subjective term, but the increase was almost 24%, and in my book that qualifies as dramatic) from ’14 to ’15. This could be an artifact of an improving economy in which people are returning to spending money more freely, meaning that on a practical level, they are using their credit cards more often again, leading naturally to an rise in credit card related complaints.
Feel free to interact with the data viz above and see if you find anything that you think is interesting. If so, drop a comment and let me know what you think.