If you are unhappy with a financial product or service, you can complain.
We do not investigate individual complaints, but the financial firms we regulate must have a procedure in place for resolving disputes with their customers.
These firms must also respond to you within set deadlines.
If you are unhappy with a financial product or service, follow these 4 steps to making a complaint:
Step 1: Contact the firm directly
If you have a complaint about a firm, it is best to first ask the firm to put things right.
Contact them as soon as possible in writing, so you have a record of what you and they say.
If you want to complain about a firm based abroad, read more about what protection you have.
Complaining to a financial services firm
In general, financial services firms we regulate must respond to your complaint in writing within 8 weeks.
They must tell you whether the complaint has been successful or why they need more time to investigate the complaint
Complaining to a payment service provider or e-money issuer
Payment Service Providers and e-money issuers must normally respond to certain types of complaint within 15 business days.
If a final response cannot be provided within 15 business days for reasons beyond the control of the firm, the firm must send a response explaining the reasons for the delay.
The final response cannot be more than 35 business days from when the complaint was first received.
Acknowledging your complaint
Unless they resolve your complaint within 3 business days, all firms are required to respond in writing to let you know they have received your complaint.
Before you contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (see step 3), make sure:
- you have the final response from the firm, or
- the relevant time period to consider your complaint has passed
Step 2: Make the complaint yourself
You can make a complaint yourself for free, directly to a firm. If the firm fails to respond within the relevant time period or you are unhappy with the response received, you can also make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
You can also get free help from the Financial Ombudsman Service, or organisations like Citizens Advice and the Pensions Advisory Service.
There are many companies that offer to complain on your behalf. These are usually known as claim handlers, claims firms or claims management companies (CMCs). We regulate financial services and financial products CMCs operating in Great Britain.
CMCs will charge you a fee for handling the complaint. Some companies will manage your claim on a 'no win, no fee' basis. If your claim is successful, they will deduct a proportion of your compensation as a fee. If you cancel your claim, you may also be charged.
If you decide to use a CMC, you should carefully consider how much they will charge you, and decide whether you are willing to have that money deducted from your compensation. Some companies will charge you a fee upfront.
Carefully consider whether to pay a fee before your complaint is submitted. There is no guarantee that your claim will be successful and you could be left out of pocket.
Step 3: Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service
If you are not happy with the response you receive from the firm, or you do not hear from them within the relevant time period, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help you.
The Financial Ombudsman Service 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. It will ask the financial firm to explain what it thinks happened and then decide whether to uphold your complaint.
It is important you contact the Financial Ombudsman Service within 6 months of receiving a final response from the firm, or it may not be able to deal with your complaint.
If the firm agrees, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to consider your complaint before the relevant time period has passed. This could be 8 weeks or 15 days depending on the type of firm (see step 1).
Step 4: Take the matter to court
If you do not want to accept a decision by the Financial Ombudsman Service 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.