The financial sector can be a confusing one, so what happens if you have a complaint that the company you are dealing with won't help you with? Well this is where the Financial Ombudsman Service comes in.
The Financial Ombudsman Service, or FOS, is an impartial service appointed by parliament to help settle disputes between customers and UK businesses providing financial services such as banks, building societies, insurance companies, investment firms, financial advisers and finance companies.
The Ombudsman provides an extra avenue for customers who wish to follow up further on complaints or issues they have had with a company that have been ignored or not dealt with to the customer’s satisfaction. Once a customer has filed a complaint with a company they must allow eight weeks for the company to attempt to come to some kind of resolution with the customer. Only after this point are the customers able to approach the FOS to examine their case.
The FOS is completely impartial and independent, so if a customer has been mistreated or wronged they can be confident that their side of the story is equally as valued as the business's, even if it's a large financial company. There are no favourites or commercial concerns at the FOS.
The FOS is important because it gives customers the chance to challenge large financial firms without the fear of being bullied by expensive legal teams like they might do in court.
The Financial Ombudsman Service is free which means that even if someone were to lose their case, they would not be liable for any fees like they would be if the took the matter to court. This is key because so often matters do not make their way to court simply because of the cost. And because the FOS is free it means anyone can have their case heard as long as it's valid.
Here is a link to the Financial Ombudsman Service website where you can find out more about the service and its impartiality.
The Financial Ombudsman Service can deal with complaints from consumers about most financial matters including, for example: banking, insurance, mortgages, pensions, savings and investments, credit cards and store cards, loans and credit, hire purchase and pawnbroking, financial advice, stocks, shares, unit trusts and bonds.
Before the ombudsman can step in, the consumer must first give the business they are unhappy with the opportunity to look into the complaint itself - before the ombudsman service can make a decision on the dispute. The business has a maximum of 8 weeks to resolve the complaint. If they do not resolve it within 8 weeks or the consumer is not happy with the response then they can refer the complaint to the ombudsman service.
If you require further assistance, our team of Customer Advisors are here to help. We're open six days a week - you can view our opening hours here - and we're more than happy to answer your questions.