How to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service

Updated on 13 May 2013

More than 135,000 new complaints were lodged with the Financial Ombudsman in the first half of this year. If you have reason to complain, we tell you how - and how to get the outcome you want from the FOS.

The most complained-about product

The majority (63%) related to the sale of controversial payment protection insurance (PPI), making it the single most complained about financial product.

That PPI is so unpopular should come as no great surprise. For years it's been clear that thousands of us have been ripped off with this cover. If you think you have been mis-sold PPI, be sure to read our guide How to claim your PPI compensation.

In fact, the FOS is receiving more than 1,000 complains a day about PPI. Of those complaints about PPI, a whopping 99% refererred to the sales and advice process.

What hasn't helped matters is the sheer backlog of PPI complaints banks are trying to deal with. As we highlighted in April, some customers could wait up to a year for PPI compensation

If you feel you have been unfairly dealt with by a bank or other financial institution, here’s how to complain.

Contact the company directly

Air your grievance with the company involved but avoid getting angry. If you stay calm and are clear about the nature of your complaint and the desired outcome, you’re more likely to get what you want.

Ask for a copy of, or where you can find, its complaints procedure. Alternatively, look for the details on the company’s website. It’s best to put the details in writing and remember to date the letter.

Be organised

Keep a record of any financial dealings, transactions and correspondence. If you speak to someone on the phone, note their name as well as the time and date of the call.

If you send documents to the company to support your case, be sure to send copies and keep the originals.

Be patient

The company has eight weeks to resolve the issue before you can take it any further, so don’t expect any instant resolutions. This is particularly true for cases relating to PPI, which have met with long delays due to the sheer volume of complaints.

Read Customers could wait up to a year for PPI compensation for more information about the delays.

Contact the FOS

After the eight weeks is up you can refer the matter to the free Financial Ombudsman Service. You need to complete a complaint form.

The form must be signed by hand and posted to the Ombudsman with any other relevant documents that support your case. If your complaint is about PPI, there is an additional form to fill out: the payment protection insurance consumer questionnaire.

A last resort

If the Ombudsman’s ruling doesn’t go your way but you believe the case is still worth pursuing, you can take the matter to court. However, this is likely to be an expensive route.

Experts recommend using the small claims court over more expensive and time consuming court systems.

Other independent complaints schemes:

Cases relating to car loans and some credit cards, store cards and personal loans are dealt with by the Finance & Leasing Association Arbitration Scheme. For complaints relating to how pension schemes are run you can contact The Pensions Advisory Service or The Pensions Ombudsman.

More on complaints and consumer rights

How to make a pensions complaint

Continuous Payment Authority: your rights

The Sale of Goods Act: your consumer rights

Your rights when a company goes bust


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