Five questions about ... complaining to financial companies

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The Independent Online

How can I make a complaint to a financial services company?

If you have a complaint against a financial services company, you must approach the firm itself initially. Doing this in writing can prove more effective than calling. But regardless of how you notify the company concerned, be sure to include any reference numbers it is likely to need to pinpoint, and hopefully remedy, the problem quickly.

Don't forget to keep a copy of any correspondence.

Other top tips include staying calm and keeping any letters or emails as brief as possible. You may also have to be patient as companies are entitled to eight weeks to respond to your complaint.

What can I do if I am not satisfied with the response?

If the firm has not responded within eight weeks, or you remain dissatisfied, you can ask the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) to investigate on your behalf.


How will the FOS investigate my case?

The FOS weighs up both sides of a case and tells both parties what it thinks. If this fails to resolve the issue, both sides will probably have to provide further details before the adjudicator in charge of the case makes a decision.

What rules govern how companies deal with complaints?

The UK's financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has strengthened the rules about how financial companies deal with complaints from unhappy customers. The FOS can now order banks and other financial firms that fail their customers to pay up to £150,000 in compensation – a £50,000 increase on the previous maximum.

How are these rules enforced?

It is not only individual customers financial institutions may be forced to compensate. They may also be fined by the FSA.

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