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ombudsman news

issue 126

July 2015

Q&As

A lot of people are approaching my community advice centre with problems involving credit brokers. I've been referring them to you - but some are in a really desperate position, and the broking fees have made a bad situation worse. How quickly can you help at the ombudsman?

In the last ombudsman news, we highlighted that the people who contact us with credit broking problems had often been charged multiple fees. We know that many people simply can’t spare the money that’s been taken - and may experience other problems as a result.

In general, we’re able to resolve these types of complaints very quickly. By talking things through over the phone with the broker and their customer, we can get to the heart of what’s happened and how to sort things out. In many cases, we can put things right in a few days - and it’s sometimes a matter of hours.

And where it’s clear someone’s financial difficulties won’t be resolved by our involvement alone, we’ll signpost them to appropriate types of support.

Does it matter if someone doesn’t have much paperwork relating to a complaint?

Under the rules about complaining, people can complain to us about things that happened up to six years ago (or sometimes longer - depending on when they knew there could be a reason to complain).

Even if it was more recent, daily life inevitably involves dealing with all sorts of information - both offline and online - about different products and services.

So it’s understandable that someone might not be able to lay their hands on every letter or document relating to a complaint. That goes for customers of businesses and businesses alike.

Of course, it’s helpful to have all the facts and paperwork upfront - but people shouldn’t worry if something’s not immediately available. We can generally still look into a complaint by working together with both sides to bring together the information we need.

For example, the business involved may be able to help with things like records of correspondence - if their customer can’t find these. Or if a business can’t locate the “fact find”, there are other sorts of evidence we can consider to find out about a particular customer’s circumstances. We’ll reach our answer based on what we think is most likely to have happened - given everything we’ve seen and heard from the people involved.

If someone’s concerned about the sorts of questions we might ask, we’re here to talk things through - either on our consumer helpline or our advice desk for businesses.

ombudsman news

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.