The technical advice desk’s role is to talk to people involved with resolving complaints - such as businesses, claims handlers and consumer advisers - about complaints that haven't yet been brought to the ombudsman.
We can give general information on how the ombudsman might look at a particular complaint. We also offer guidance on our rules and how we work.
Each year we use our extensive casework experience to give informal advice to hundreds of complaint handlers and consumer advisers to help resolve complaints at an earlier stage.
get in touch
The team is available to help Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm.
A car finance company asked us for help with a dispute. A customer had noticed a fault with their car, shortly after taking out a hire purchase agreement to buy it. After agreeing to a repair with the dealership, the customer changed their mind and wanted to return the car and end the finance agreement.
The finance company had initially refused, saying that as the customer agreed to the repair it was too late to change their mind. The consumer had made a complaint and, unsure what to do next, the finance company called the advice desk. We explained that, by law, a person can reject a car – within 30 days of purchase – if they discover a fault that was present, or developing, when it was sold. As the repair work hadn’t started, and no repair costs had been incurred, we suggested that to help resolve the complaint the customer should be allowed to reject the car.
An IFA called us with a query about the DISP rules and whether a customer would be out of time to make a complaint to us. The IFA had received a complaint about a pension transfer made over 20 years ago, and wasn’t sure how to proceed.
We explained the “six and three year” rule, and how it might affect the complaint. As the transfer was more than six years ago, the complaint would have to be made within three years of the date the customer first realised, or reasonably should’ve known, they had cause to complain.
A medical insurer called us after it gave incorrect information to a policyholder, about cover for treatment in a psychiatric hospital. The insurer had initially told the policyholder there was unlimited cover. But when treatment started the insurer said the policy only covered the first 100 days.
We pointed out the uncertainty about cover could cause even more worry for the policyholder. We suggested the insurer should cover the hospital stay for the initial period, as recommended by the treating doctor. This allowed for the initial treatment needed, and enough time to plan for aftercare.
how to use the technical advice desk
Our technical advice desk provides information on an informal basis. But it’s important to remember that we only ever hear one side of the story. If the complaint ends up getting formally referred to the ombudsman service, our case handler might reach a different answer – based on what they’ve heard from both sides, and what’s fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.
If you’re a complaint handler who’s contacted us for support, you shouldn’t tell your customer that we’ve endorsed your answer about their complaint. This might deter that customer from taking things further by referring their complaint to us – which they’re entitled to do under the complaint handling rules.
The advice desk also can’t discuss complaints that have already been formally referred to the ombudsman service.