This section answers a number of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about:
I thought you were meant to be the consumer champion – so why won't you uphold my complaint?
The ombudsman service is completely impartial – just as a judge would be if you took your complaint to court instead of to us. We do not represent any vested interests – we are neither a consumer champion nor an industry trade-body.
We look at complaints independently – and make what we believe is a fair and balanced decision on the individual facts and merits of each case. This may sometimes involve reassuring consumers that the business they are complaining about has treated their complaint fairly, if we believe this to be so.
how often do you find in favour of the consumer?
Like the courts, the ombudsman service is entirely impartial. We are also open about our work. And we publish a range of complaints data about the cases referred to us – showing the number of complaints we receive and the proportion we uphold.
does the ombudsman punish or fine businesses?
No. Our job is to settle individual disputes between consumers and businesses providing financial services – where consumers think they have lost out.
We do not write the rules for businesses providing financial services – and we do not monitor (or regulate) businesses to make sure they follow the rules. This is the responsibility of the regulators – for example the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
can the ombudsman make a business apply a decision on an individual case to all other consumers in the same position?
The ombudsman cannot make a business apply a decision on an individual case to other consumers. However, where a complaint raises an issue that might lead to large numbers of other complaints, we discuss this with the regulators – the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
In some instances, action by the regulator – which results in redress being paid to consumers – may be more appropriate than the ombudsman deciding individual cases.