We do not investigate individual complaints. But the financial firms we regulate must have a procedure in place for resolving disputes with their customers and respond to you within set deadlines.
To make the process easier, follow these four steps to making a complaint:
If you have a complaint, it is best to first ask the firm involved to put things right.
Contact the firm involved as soon as possible. It is usually best to write to them so you have a record of what you say.
Financial firms we regulate must respond to your complaint in writing within eight weeks, telling you whether the complaint has been successful or why they need more time to look into it.
Firms are also required to respond in writing just to let you know they have received your complaint, so be sure you have a final response or it has been eight weeks since you complained before you contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), as in Step 3.
There are many companies that offer to complain on your behalf, usually known as claim handlers, claims firms or claims management companies (CMCs).
But making a complaint to a firm or the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) is a free, simple process you can do yourself. You can get free help from the FOS, or organisations like the Pensions Advisory Service, if you need it.
If you do decide to use a claim handler you should carefully consider whether to pay an upfront fee before your complaint is submitted, as there is no guarantee it will be successful and you could be left out of pocket.
While the ‘no win, no fee’ approach often advertised might be more appealing than paying money up front, it can mean paying as much as 30% of a refund or compensation to a claim handler.
If you are not happy with the firm’s response, they reject your complaint or you do not hear from them within eight weeks, the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) may be able to help you.
The FOS is a free, independent service for settling disputes between financial services firms and their customers. It can deal with complaints about a wide range of financial matters – from pet insurance to stocks and shares.
The FOS will ask the financial firm to explain what they think happened and then decide whether to uphold your complaint.
It is important you contact the FOS within six months of receiving a final response from the firm, or the FOS may not be able to deal with your complaint.
If you do not want to accept a decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and you have not used an independent complaints scheme, as a last resort you may be able to take your case to court.
You would usually start civil legal action in the county courts or High Court (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland), depending on the circumstances of the case. In Scotland, most small claims are started in the Sheriff Courts.
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