This version of our consumer leaflet is designed to be read on screen. Where appropriate, businesses are required to give consumers an official print version (not a print-out of this web page).
Consumers can get a printed version on 0300 123 9 123.
Businesses can order supplies of the leaflet from us for their customers.
The ombudsman has official powers to sort out complaints between you and a financial business you're unhappy with.
We look at the facts, ask questions and decide what's fair in each individual case.
If we think the business has treated you fairly, we will tell you why. But if we agree the business has done something wrong, we can order them to put things right.
Our service is free to consumers.
This leaflet tells you more about the ombudsman and how we use our power to sort out financial complaints.
Every year over a million people contact us about financial problems involving:
If you're not sure if we can help with your particular problem, just contact us and ask. Call us on 0300 123 9 123.
If you're worried about the cost of calling us, we will be happy to phone you back.
Before we look into your problem, try first to sort it out yourself with the business you're unhappy with.
If it's difficult for you to do this, or you're not sure about anything, please contact us.
The business has eight weeks to sort out your complaint with you. If after eight weeks you're still not happy, you can ask us to get involved. We will explain what you should do next. Call us on 0300 123 9 123.
If we think we can help, we will need some information from you for our complaint form.
We will ask you for:
If you phone us, we can fill in some of the information on our complaint form for you.
Or you can download the form from our website. Fill it in and send it to us.
We can adapt the way we communicate with you, depending on your needs.
If your complaint is one we can deal with, we will:
If we think the business has treated you fairly, we will tell you why.
If we think the business has acted wrongly and you have lost out, we can order them to put things right for you.
We sort out most complaints at this stage. If not, we can review the complaint and tell you our final decision.
You do not have to accept our decision and you are free to go to court instead. But we cannot give you legal advice about any court requirements or restrictions (for example, on time limits).
We look at each case carefully – and the time it takes varies significantly. It can depend on:
This means we can sort out some complaints within just a few months. But some cases – for example, complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) – can take over a year.
Yes. If you cannot sort out your complaint with the business yourself, it's important that you bring it to us as quickly as possible. You have up to six months to do this.
Other time limits may also apply if:
Anyone can complain on your behalf – for example, a member of your family, a friend or Citizens Advice. But we will still need you to sign our complaint form to allow us to deal with them.
No. You shouldn't need any specialist help – for example, from a solicitor or claims company. We look at the facts of each complaint – not at how well you present your case. And we prefer to hear from you in your own words.
If you employ someone to present your complaint for you, you might have to pay their costs. This could mean you end up paying them out of any money you might get back.
The ombudsman is not as formal as the courts. We generally sort out complaints based on the information that you and the business give us, in writing and over the phone. We sort out almost all complaints without needing to have face-to-face meetings.
Our service may not suit you if your complaint involves more than £150,000 (£100,000 for complaints we received before 1 January 2012) – the most we can tell a business to pay. You may also prefer to take your complaint to court if you want to:
We will not usually handle a complaint that has already been considered by a court (or where court action is due to take place).
Yes. We can look at most complaints from smaller businesses – as long as they have:
No. It is the job of the regulators, such as the Financial Conduct Authority (previously the Financial Services Authority) and the Office of Fair Trading, to write the rules and make sure businesses follow them.
Our job is to sort out individual complaints between businesses that provide financial services and their customers.
This leaflet is only a general guide. The rules we have to follow can be complex.
If you ask us to look at a complaint, we will tell you about any rules or restrictions that may apply in your case.
We will always give you the chance to query anything you don't understand or agree with.