The Financial Ombudsman Service was set up by Parliament as the official expert in settling individual disputes between consumers and businesses providing financial services. Our aim is to resolve disputes fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally.
We know we can't please everyone all the time – and our decisions are often disappointing for the side that doesn't hear what they wanted to hear. But whatever the outcome of your case, we hope you will be satisfied with the level of service we provide.
We know that, as in any organisation, things can sometimes go wrong. Please tell us if this happens, so that we can put things right and learn from any mistakes.
This page tells you about the service standards we aim to meet and what to do if you are unhappy with the service we have provided.
In all our contact with our customers – consumers and businesses – we expect our staff to be polite, considerate and professional.
Many of the disputes we are asked to settle involve complex financial and legal issues. But we always try to explain our views and decisions clearly, without using jargon.
Depending how complicated a case is, we can sort out some complaints within just a few weeks - and over half of cases within three months. But some disputes can take longer – for example, complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) – can take over a year.
And some cases can take longer if they involve very complex issues or require a formal decision by an ombudsman. How we allocate and prioritise cases is affected by the number and type of complaints that consumers refer to us.
When we start work on your case, we will keep you informed about the progress we are making and about what you need to do next. You will always know the name of the person handling your case and you can contact them direct with any questions – by letter, email or phone.
We will always take account of what you tell us about the case. But we also have to consider carefully the other side of the story. We listen to the facts and arguments from both sides and balance them carefully to help form our view. If you disagree with our view, you can ask us to reconsider the matter. We will explain how you can do that.
In the majority of cases, we are usually able to settle the dispute informally to the satisfaction of both sides – by making suggestions and recommendations that the business and consumer both accept. In a small number of cases, one of our ombudsmen will need to make a formal decision, to settle the matter.
Our ombudsmen and adjudicators base their decisions on what they consider is the fair and reasonable approach in the particular circumstances of each individual case.
An ombudsman’s decision is final. There is no further appeal to another ombudsman. This means you must make sure you have given us all your facts and arguments before an ombudsman makes their final decision – otherwise it will be too late.
We aim to be accessible to everyone. We can provide information about our service in different formats (for example, in Braille, large print, and on audiotape), and we can receive calls via Text Relay (formerly known as TypeTalk).
We can also provide information about our service in languages other than English. And if you want to phone us but prefer to use a language other than English, we can get an interpreter on the line right away.
If you have other accessibility or practical needs, please let us know. We will try to help.
If you are unhappy with the conclusions we are reaching, tell the adjudicator handling your case. If we cannot resolve the dispute informally to the satisfaction of both sides, it will be for one of our ombudsmen to make a formal decision on the case. The ombudsman’s decision will be final.
Please also let us know if you are unhappy with the level of service we have provided – whatever the actual outcome of the individual case. For example, we want to hear if you think, in handling the case, we have:
We take complaints like this about our service very seriously. If we get things wrong, it’s important that you tell us, so we can try to put matters right. This also helps us improve our service in future for other customers.
Our special procedure for handling complaints about the level of service we provide is open to consumers and businesses alike. This is entirely separate from the usual process that applies if you disagree with our views on the merits of your case – and want us to re-consider facts and arguments.
In the first instance, please tell the member of staff you are dealing with – or their team manager – if you are unhappy with the level of service we have provided. You can do this either by phone – or in writing.
The team manager will try to put right – as quickly as possible – anything we have done wrong. Usually things can be sorted out straight away at this stage.
If a team manager hasn't been able to sort out your complaint about the service we have provided, you can ask a senior manager to look into your concerns. The member of staff you are dealing with will tell you how to do this – if you want to take the complaint further.
The senior manager will respond within 20 working days. If we need more time, we will let you know and explain why.
Where relevant, we will tell you how we will put things right – and how we plan to make sure the mistakes do not happen again.
If we have responded to your complaint about the level of service we have provided, but you’re still not happy, you can contact the independent assessor, Amerdeep Somal.
There is more information about our complaints procedure and the role of our independent assessor in our special factsheet: