The Financial Ombudman Service was set up by Parliament in 2000. Their goal was to crack down on problems within the financial services industry.
What do they do?
The Financial Ombudsman Service support businesses and consumers when they are unable to resolve complaints or disputes between themselves.
The Ombudsman have the legal power to enforce the correct outcome if they decide that either party has been treated unfairly.
When should you contact the Financial Ombudsman Service?
If you feel you’ve been unfairly treated by a company, you must first raise an official complaint with them directly.
Upon receiving the complaint, the business has 8 weeks to resolve the complaint. If the consumer has not received a response or is unhappy with the response they have received, they can refer the complaint to the ombudsman service.
What happens when a customer contacts the ombudsman?
Upon receiving the case, the ombudsman will aim to resolve the dispute and provide a fair outcome for both parties.
To make their decision, they will carry out a full investigation of the complaint, speaking to both sides in the process.
They will look to work as efficiently as possible on every case, however it can be a lengthy process. Depending on the severity and complexity of a given case, it can take them three months or more the resolve.
The ombudsman currently employs around 4,500 people. Whilst this may seem like a lot, it’s important to consider that over half a million cases were raised in 2014/2015.
Can the ombudsman help if a company goes bust?
It is not uncommon for a customer to be sold a faulty product or service, only for the company to cease trading and be unable to provide a viable alternative.
In this case, many will contact the ombudsman to seek legal advice or support. Unfortunately, though, they may not be able to help. And whilst each case will be treated on its merit, it will ultimately come down to whether the business in question can fulfil the financial commitments required (e.g. a refund).
If the firm was FCA regulated, then your case may be referred to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS essentially acts as a financial safety net for customers with disputes against FCA-regulated firms who’ve ceased trading.
How to contact the ombudsman
If you need to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service, there are several ways to do so. You can call their consumer hotline, text their customer service department, fill in an online form or send a letter. All the details on how to contact the ombudsman can be found by visiting this link.