Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS)
Nine out of ten people say they have no complaints about their bank, insurer or finance firm. And most financial transactions take place without any problems. But sometimes things do go wrong. And when they do, and a client/customer isn't happy, it's up to the business to try and sort it out.
The business must be given the chance to look into a problem - and they have eight weeks to do so. If the customer still isn't satisfied, they are free to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). They will listen to both sides and provide an unbiased view. They make their decision based on the facts that they see.
Key Facts about FOS:
- They were set up by parliament to try and resolve individual complaints that consumers and financial businesses aren't able to resolve themselves.
- Their service is free to consumers.
- Depending how complicated a case is, they can resolve some complaints in just a few months. But some cases can take much longer.
- They don't write the rules for financial businesses - or fine them if rules are broken. That's the regulator's job.
The ombudsman service only considers disputes after the business has first had the opportunity to look into the complaint, to try to resolve matters to the consumer's satisfaction.
The vast majority of complaints are sorted out very early on between businesses and consumers, and do not need to be referred to FOS. It is important to point out that referral to FOS must be made within 6 months of the business's final response to a complaint.
Many of the complaints they see arise through misunderstandings. They can often be resolved just by the business giving the consumer a clear explanation of what has happened and why. What may seem obvious and clear to a business, who are experts, may seem confusing and worrying to a consumer. So helpful, reassuring messages in plain English are sometimes all that are needed to sort things out.
Even if the business believes they have made every effort to give the consumer a full explanation, if the consumer remains dissatisfied, the business is still required - under the rules - to treat the matter as a formal complaint. This includes telling the consumer about their right to take their case, free of charge, to the ombudsman service. Some businesses may choose to settle early on with a consumer - rather than let a disagreement escalate into a dispute involving the ombudsman. This is a matter of commercial judgement for the business.
To maintain good customer relations, or simply to save the business management time and trouble, they may consider it worthwhile to make a goodwill offer - even where they do not believe they have any legal liability or obligation to do so.
On the other hand, as a point of principle some businesses vigorously resist any complaint they do not believe is justified - and welcome the opportunity to have the ombudsman make a formal decision on what is likely to be a hard-fought dispute.
For more information regarding the Financial Ombudsman Service, please click on the following link www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk.
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