How to complain about financial services

chief executive at the Financial Ombudsman Service – Said the free service set up by law to settle complaints between consumers and financial businesses.

And, with the financial year just ended, they can look back on what has been another record year at the ombudsman – both in terms of the number of people bringing complaints to the service and the number of disputes they have resolved.

Over the last year almost a million consumers have contacted them with complaints across the full range of financial products and services, from pawnbroking to portfolio management and from motor insuranceto mortgages.

Happily the vast majority of the financial transactions that take place every day run smoothly, but it is important that consumers know what they can do if something does go wrong.


The business or company you think is responsible for a problem should have the chance to look into any complaint before the ombudsman steps in and decides who is right or wrong.

Many complaints are caused by misunderstandings that the business can quickly sort out, once you explain the problem.

Making a complaint to a business might seem stressful especially when it relates to your finances. So here are a few hints to help you take it one step at a time and to get your complaint taken seriously:

  • What’s the problem? Before you make a complaint, be clear in your own mind what you think the problem is – and how you would like the financial business to put things right for you.
  • Stay calm. No matter how upset you are, try to stay civil and unflustered. You will get your points across much more clearly and effectively. Put yourself in the shoes of the person at the end of the phone, who you want to help you. Would you like someone shouting at you?
  • Write or phone? If you complain by phone, make sure you keep a note of when you called and the name of the person you spoke to. If you write, put “complaint” clearly at the top of your letter.
  • Keep it brief. It is always best to keep things short and to the point. Say simply and clearly what you are not happy with and what you want the business to do to resolve the problem.
  • Taking things further. Remember that the business must by law have a complaints procedure that it has to follow. If you are not able to resolve matters at this stage, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help.
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