Complain to your bank and win

Complain to your bank and win

The big banks have a terrible track record for dealing fairly with customer complaints. This article will show you how to successfully fight back.

lovemoney staff

Savings and ISAs

lovemoney staff
Updated on 4 September 2017

If you’ve ever had cause to complain to your bank, you’ll no doubt know what a frustrating, bang-your-head-against-a-brick-wall exercise it can be.

In this article, we'll explain how to make sure your complaint is heard (and sorted).

How to get your complaint taken seriously

There are steps you can take to up your chances of winning a complaint. In fact, there’s a right way - and a wrong way - to get your grievance across. Follow my top ten tips the next time your bank needs taking to task:

1. Find out about your bank’s complaint procedure

Under FCA 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.   

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Put your complaint in writing

You can complain by phone if you want to, but I think it’s far 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.

5. 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 specify amounts of compensation, but make it clear that's exactly what you expect to receive.  

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

There are several attractive current accounts on the market, which are proving popular with customers, which are certainly worth considering.

If you want to do a bit more detailed reading, have a look at the best accounts for cashback, the top accounts for switching bonuses and the best joint accounts for bills.

Do you have any tips on how to complain and win?

Ever fought a battle with a bank or company - and won? Tell us what happened and how you did it using the comments box below!

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