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How-to Guides » Complain and get your way

Whoever you want to complain to, make sure you follow these tips.

Complain to your bank

How-to Guide Tips 7 tips on this task  | 

Find out about your bank’s complaint procedure

Under FSA rules all banks are required to have an appropriate complaints procedure. Ask to see a copy so you understand exactly how your complaint will be handled.   

Act now

Make your complaint as soon as things go wrong. The longer you leave it the harder it will be to remember all the relevant details you’ll need to strengthen your case. Don’t forget, certain financial complaints have time limits so don’t miss the opportunity to put in your claim for redress.

Complain to the right person

Try to make your complaint to the person you originally dealt with. If that’s not possible, contact your bank and ask for an appropriate contact name to address your complaint to. Check their job title to make sure this is someone fairly senior.

Put your complaint in writing

You can complain by phone if you want to, but it’s generally more effective to complain in writing. A written complaint is more likely to be taken seriously.

It’s important your letter includes certain information. First of all, don’t forget to include simple but important basics such as your account or policy number. You should aim to give a brief summary of your complaint in a clear and logical manner. Don’t get too bogged down with every minute detail. Explain why you’re unhappy about the situation, and what action you expect your bank to take to resolve matters.

Ask for redress

If you think you should be compensated for the treatment you have received from your bank, make sure you say so in your complaint letter. There’s no need to be specify amounts of compensation, but make it clear that's exactly what you expect to receive.  

Be polite

Don’t ever be rude or abusive in any contact you have with your bank, even if you feel like you’re making little headway. It definitely won’t help your case. Keep calm and stick to the facts.

Give your bank a chance

Before you take things further, you’ll need to give your bank a reasonable opportunity to resolve your complaint. This timescale should be indicated in the bank’s complaint procedure. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get an immediate response, so be prepared to sit it out for a while.

Keep records

It’s important you keep copies of correspondence between you and your bank, and any evidence you have sent to back up your case. You may need to refer to this documentation later down the line.

Don’t be fobbed off ­

With a bit of luck your bank will respond to your complaint letter in a satisfactory way. If that doesn’t happen and you’re unhappy with the outcome, contact the person dealing with your complaint in writing again and inform them you’ll be referring the problem to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The FOS is an independent organisation which specifically resolves disputes between individuals and financial companies. Check out the FOS’s advice on how to complain. The FOS is completely free to use and may be able to help you claim compensation. But don’t be surprised if it takes some time to reach a resolution. If your complaint is complex it could take several months.

If you’re still not satisfied with the FOS’s final decision, you won’t be able to appeal. In this case it may be necessary to pursue your complaint through legal channels, but this will most likely incur legal fees.

Vote with your feet

After all this, you’ll probably have had more than enough of your bank. If you’ve lost faith, vote with your feet and switch. Moving current accounts is far more simple than you might think with some banks offering dedicated switching services. Choose a high interest current account or one that offers a cash incentive to switch.

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Tips on this task (7)

  • Mike10613
    Love rating 632
    Mike10613 said

    Threaten to use the Law.

    You can go to you local small claims court and sue the bank or anyone else that is ripping you off; defending a claim will cost them dear with solicitors and meetings. It can cost hundreds of thousands for a company to defend even a small claim and will likely settle. Before you do sue a company, be sure you are right and can prove it; they could defend it and you get caught for court costs! Just threatening to sue in a polite and businesslike manner will often do the trick. 

    Report on 28 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 love
  • ajjaman
    Love rating 0
    ajjaman said

    Small claims costs have increased considerably in the last 18 months so be sure you are right, small claims should not cost you the defendants costs whether you win our loose, only if you progress to high court.

    Report on 30 December 2010  |  Love thisLove  0 love
  • abcdr
    Love rating 0
    abcdr said

    Why bother ?

    Report on 04 May 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 love
  • mwnw00359
    Love rating 0
    mwnw00359 said

    I had murder with my bank and they try to deny telling me certain things on the phone, one day I would call and speak to them for 45 mins, day later I called back and was told there was no notes on the system, and perhaps "sir" did I call another bank! Problem is, that cost me over £300 quid with them not keeping thier records with a deal ending.

    I found on google this service www.recordyourcall.co.uk which I use each time to record the phone calls to the dirty sods, you download the recording as a mp3, which I sent to the manager and got £90 refund, plus free upgrade to plus current account by proving what I said was right!

    Might be a help to anyone on here.


    Report on 09 July 2011  |  Love thisLove  0 love
  • Liony
    Love rating 15
    Liony said

    Thanks Matt, I will do that in future.

    Report on 13 February 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 love
  • xiavierfreeman
    Love rating 0
    xiavierfreeman said

    In my past experience working in the banking field, a complaint certainly held more weight when the customer was suggesting changing banks based on a satisfactory outcome. Obviously the level of relationship the client held certainly had some bearing on this.

    A first time complaint, ie unarranged overdraft fees, whereby the fee was 'not explained properly' on opening the account, often would result in a refund.

    Also complaining with a cool, calm disposition to build repoire with the employee, as opposed to a wild eyed, all guns blazing attack, can often prompt them to really want to help and go the extra mile.

    Report on 12 April 2012  |  Love thisLove  0 love
  • lady marmalade
    Love rating 0
    lady marmalade said

    Always keep a record of phone calls, inconvenience etc . In the last two years I have been successful in following up complaints with banks , for example: one bank did not get my name and address right and I have just received £75 , Halifax messed up switching banks and as a result I had to re- do most of my direct debits ( nightmare) but got £350, MEAF - £175, earned another £200 by switching banks last year( keeping my main account and setting up a Direct Debit ) looping, inaccurate information ( awaiting on that) , not switching my credit left over on a credit account - Nationwide £25. If anyone keeps me waiting, cannot do the basics I write and complain. It is my money and time. Actually, that it hard to claim back but watch this space. I now have a file of 17 complaint letters, not just banks but appalling service. ..... PPI and complaining about the miss selling of my endowment as the previous financial ombudsman were so inept I will be writing for my case to be reviewed.

    It is hard work , but when it takes 3 telephone companies to sort out a telephone ( Talk Talk, Orange and Virgin the worst offenders) 18 months to sort out who is supplying my gas ( British Gas hounding me and Southern Electric charging me and neither were supplying me - yes you try and work that one out) you will hopefully understand my frustration.

    Hope this inspires........

    I am a jolly person by nature , but do not like being DONE!

    Report on 19 January 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 love

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