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 businesses, 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.