The Financial Ombudsman – help when you need it

Woman looking out the window Managing your money


MoneyPlus Features Team

24th September 2015 at 10:35am

Dealing with a financial complaint can be a tricky and confusing business. But don’t worry as help is at hand.

If things go wrong

According to statistics nine out of ten people say they have no complaints about their bank, insurer or finance firm. And most financial transactions take place without any problems.

But sometimes things can go wrong. And when they do, and a customer isn’t happy, it’s up to the business to try and sort it out. The business must be given the chance to look into a problem – and they have eight weeks to do it.

And if the customer still isn’t satisfied, The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) can help.

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

FOS was set up by law as an independent public body. Its job is to provide a speedy and cheap way to resolve disputes between financial companies and their customers without having to go to court.

And the Ombudsman is for everyone. That means meeting the needs – and talking the language – of whoever asks for help – fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally.

About the Service

• The service was set up by Parliament to sort out individual complaints that consumers and financial businesses aren’t able to resolve themselves

• The service is free to consumers

• Depending how complicated a case is, complaints can be sorted out in a few months. But some cases – for example, complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) – can take much longer

• It does not write the rules for financial businesses – or fine them if rules are broken. That’s the regulator’s job.

How they can help

FOS will listen to both sides of the story, and will give advice or make decisions based on the facts that they see.

They are committed to making sure their answers and decisions are technically right, as well as wanting to make what they do feel right. And they do this by listening, thinking and explaining.

And their word is law. If you choose to accept the Ombudsman’s decision then it’s legally binding on both you and the business. However you don’t need to accept it, you’re still free to pursue the matter further through the courts should you wish.

Next steps

If you’ve a grievance with a business and they don’t respond within eight weeks – or you’re unhappy with what they say – get in touch with the Ombudsman.

You can ring on 0300 123 9 123 or 0800 023 4567 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

You can also email at

And if you’d like more information on the Ombudsman, what they do and how they can help, then you can also visit their handy website.

And did you know…

“Ombudsman” is a Swedish term dating back to the 1800’s. It means a person who has an ear to the people. Very fitting we feel.

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