How to complain if you’re a small business

If you’re a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) and you're unhappy with a product or service, follow these steps to make a complaint.

We do not make decisions on individual complaints, but the financial firms we regulate must have a procedure in place for resolving disputes with their customers.

Step 1: Contact the firm directly 

If you have a complaint about a firm, you should contact the firm in the first instance to give the firm the opportunity to put the matter right.  

Step 2: If possible, contact an adjudication service 

If you’re unhappy with the response you receive from the firm, there are organisations that offer a free and independent service for settling disputes. You might be able to refer your complaint to one of these organisations. Find out more about the: 

Please note, you can’t use both the ombudsman service and the BBRS, if you are eligible to take your complaint to the ombudsman service.  

If you are unsure about your eligibility, contact the ombudsman service and they will advise you where to take your complaint. You can also contact the BBRS

Step 3: Take the matter to court 

If you don’t want to accept a decision by the ombudsman service or the BBRS (or if you are not eligible), you may wish to consider taking 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.

Financial Ombudsman Service  

The Financial Ombudsman Service is a free, independent service that has the power to settle complaints between micro enterprises or small businesses and financial services providers.  

A micro-enterprise: 

  • employs fewer than 10 people; and 
  • has annual turnover or a balance sheet total of less than £2 million 

Since 1 April 2019, the ombudsman service has also been able to consider complaints made by small businesses.

A small business: 

  • is not a micro-enterprise 
  • has annual turnover of less than £6.5 million; and 
  • has a balance sheet total of less than £5 million or employs fewer than 50 people 

The ombudsman service can also help: 

  • charities with an annual income of less than £6.5 million 
  • trusts with a net asset value of less than £5 million 
  • individuals who act as personal guarantors for loans to businesses they're involved in  

It’s important you contact the ombudsman service within 6 months of receiving a final response from the firm. If you miss this deadline, you will most likely lose the opportunity to have your complaint reviewed.

Business Banking Resolution Service (BBRS) 

The BBRS launched on 15 February 2021. It’s an industry-funded, free and independent service that resolves disputes between larger SMEs and 7 participating banks.  

A complaint must relate to a banking service, such as lending or payment services. Information on the BBRS’ eligibility criteria can be found below, but, in some circumstances, it may also be able to look at complaints that are ineligible.

The BBRS comprises 2 schemes: 

Contemporary Scheme  

This scheme covers complaints about incidents that took place on or after 1 April 2019. It is for businesses that meet all the following criteria: 

  • turnover less than £10 million per annum 
  • balance sheet less than £7.5 million 
  • not eligible to take the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

Find out more about the Contemporary Scheme.  

Historical Scheme  

This scheme covers complaints about incidents that took place between 1 December 2001 to 31 March 2019. It’s for businesses with:  

  • a turnover up to £6.5 million per annum; and 
  • a balance sheet of up to £5 million  

Complaints must not be (or have been) eligible for the ombudsman service or one of the excluded schemes.  

The Historical Scheme will close for new complaints on 14 February 2023.  

Find out more about the Historical Scheme

Excluded schemes 

Cases that have been dealt with by some other redress schemes are not eligible for the BBRS. See the full list of excluded schemes

If you have been through one of these schemes, you should visit the BBRS page on concessionary cases to find out if you could still be helped with your case.

If you want to complain about us, please use our form. You can also contact us by phone or email.