With the Financial Times reporting that 2016 saw a spike of over 3million complaints against UK finance groups, today we’re looking at what to do if you have an issue to raise.
At 3million, the number of complaints was at the highest it has been in five years – and specifically refers to complaints made against banks.
Covering a range of concerns including the mis-selling of financial products like PPI as well as complaints that a company has acted against the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s guidelines, it is clearly important that everybody is able to resolve issues and receive fair treatment.
While the FCA themselves do not investigate personal complaints, they do help to make the process easier. Their simple process outlines the options that are available to all members of the public… so let’s take a look at each step in more depth.
Contact the company you have a complaint against
The first step should always be to turn to the company in question, and the FCA suggest that “it is best to first ask the firm involved to put things right.”
Every company’s process will be different, but under FCA regulations they must have a procedure in place, and they must respond to you within certain time frames.
They also recommend that you make your complaint in writing – a useful record to have should you need to escalate matters further.
The company is then obligated to get back to you within 8 weeks, at which point you will need to decide whether or not you’re happy with the resolution they’re offering.
FAQ: Should I use a claim handler to complain on my behalf?
If you feel unable to make the complaint yourself, there are people out there who will handle the case for you, usually in return for a percentage of any compensation you receive.
However, as the process is simple and there is plenty of free advice out there, this is far from a necessity – and in many cases, you will be better of making the complaint yourself. The FCA also recommend that you handle it yourself wherever possible.
Contact the Financial Ombudsman Service
After 8 weeks have past, if you are unhappy with the outcome – either because the firm haven’t responded, or because they haven’t offered a suitable resolution – you then have the option to go to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Doing this is a simple as filling out their online form, available here. There are also offline versions available to be downloaded. This will ask you for all the details of what has happened, as well as supporting information where necessary and personal details.
You should also be aware that, in order to complain about PPI or packaged bank accounts, you will need to provide more information.
FAQ: Are there any financial complaints that the ombudsman can’t deal with?
While the vast majority of issues can be dealt with by the ombudsman, there a few things that they do not deal with:
- They aren’t responsible for enforcing FCA regulations – this is the job of the FCA themselves.
- They cannot order compensation of an amount over £150,000.
- Generally, you must complain within six months of receiving a final response from the company in question, and within six years of the event that you are complaining about taking place.
- The ombudsman is not responsible for fining or otherwise punishing businesses.
Take it to court
Your final option, if the ombudsman cannot resolve the case to your satisfaction, is to take the matter to court.
Bear in mind that there will be significant costs associated with any court case, even in the small claims course, and that the result may be the same as the Financial Ombudsman Service ruling.
Of course, we hope that you’ll never be in a situation where this advice is necessary! However, it always helps to have a plan of action should you find that a financial services company has broken the rules.