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.
On this page
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 them 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, if you're eligible to take your complaint to the ombudsman service, you won't be able to use both the ombudsman service and 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're 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.
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.
- 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.