We are very keen to work with front-line community and advice workers who help, advise and represent consumers – especially more vulnerable consumers who may be disadvantaged by not knowing about their rights to complain.
It's important that the business you think is responsible for the problem should have the chance to look into your client's complaint first – before the ombudsman steps in and decides who is right or wrong. Many complaints are caused by misunderstandings that the business should be able to put right itself, once the matter has been brought to its attention.
Look at our how to complain pages for details of what to do next – including the form your client will need to fill in if they want us to look at their complaint. Our leaflet, your complaint and the ombudsman, gives more details.
Alternatively, your client can phone us to tell us about their complaint:
We'll be happy to phone you back, if you're worried about the cost of calling us.
The ombudsman service is a free and informal alternative to going to court and consumers should not normally need legal or specialist help to bring a complaint to us. We decide if a complaint is valid by looking at the facts of the case – not at how well the case is presented.
We aim to be accessible to everyone who uses our service. Information is available in different formats and languages. And we can adapt the way we communicate with individual customers – depending on their needs.
For example, we can provide information in Braille, large print or on audiotape or CD and we can make and receive calls using an interpreter. There's more about this on our accessibility page.
We can look into complaints about a very wide range of financial matters including:
However, the rules and restrictions we have to follow mean there are some types of dispute we can’t help with.
If you’re not sure if a particular complaint is one we can help with, just ask. Our technical advice desk is available free-of-charge to front-line advice workers and can provide information on a wide range of issues.
Yes. Contact our technical advice desk. Drawing on our experience of resolving tens of thousands of financial services complaints, we can give you an informal steer on how the ombudsman might view certain issues. This may help you sort out your client’s problem informally at an early stage – saving time and effort all round.
Please bear in mind that informal advice from the technical advice desk will be based only on one side of the story – so it is not binding if the complaint is later referred formally to the ombudsman service.
Our regular newsletter, ombudsman news, provides information about our approach to different types of disputes and includes case studies and feedback on recent complaints.
You can join our ombudsman news mailing list free of charge. Just contact news by email.
Our online technical resource also sets out our general approach to the wide range of disputes that we frequently see – including cases involving financial hardship and unaffordable lending and mortgage arrears and hardship.
Yes. Each year we run a special series of regional events, aimed at giving advice workers the opportunity to learn more about the ombudsman service and how we work. We also take part in a wide range of conferences, exhibitions and roadshows across the country.
The large number of advice agencies across the UK obviously means we can't visit each branch or group individually.
Instead, we look at ways to prioritise and co-ordinate our resources on a regional basis – working in partnership with as wide a range of community and advice workers as possible. So if you are organising an event bringing together advice workers in your region – and invite us to attend a meeting – we’ll do our best to help you.
For more details please look at our web page: outreach – what we can do for you. You might also like to look at some of the initiatives and projects we carry out as part of our outreach work in the community.
If you would like to invite a speaker from the Financial Ombudsman Service to an event you are organising, please email full details of the event to:
These leaflets are free of charge for advice agencies. To order a supply, please email our publications team or phone 020 7964 0092.
Our mini-guide to the ombudsman service, specially written for advice workers, explains our procedures and general approach. We also have a mini-guide for elected representatives such as MPs and councillors (and their researchers). For printed copies please email our publications team or phone 020 7964 0092.
We are very keen to see information about the ombudsman service included on the internal information-systems of advice organisations – such as the Trading Standards directory e-book [PDF version of our e-book entry] – as well as in publications read by advice workers such as Adviser [ombudsman advert opens in PDF format].
If you would like details of the ombudsman service on your own internal information-system, please contact our external liaison team.
We work closely at the front-line with consumer organisations – meeting community and voluntary workers from all kinds of local advice agencies at the training events we hold across the UK every year.
We take part in annual conferences and events run by national consumer bodies such as Citizens Advice, Citizens Advice Scotland, Trading Standards, the Money Advice Trust and the Northern Ireland Consumer Council – as well as providing complaints-handling training for front-line organisations such as Age UK and the National Association of Student Money Advisers.
We work with six disability, mental health and wellbeing charities – including the Samaritans, British Dyslexia Association and Alzheimer’s Society – who provide training and guidance for our staff on disability issues.
And we host our consumer-liaison group for representatives from a wide range of national consumer groups – to discuss and share information and issues relating to consumers, consumer detriment and complaints in financial services. The following consumer organisations are represented on this group:
Minutes from these meetings are available below: