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ombudsman news

issue 127

August 2015

Q&As

My constituent complained to their bank and got a “final response” - but that was more than six months ago. I heard the rules have changed - are they still too late to come to you?

It’s always been the case that when a business sends their final response, they’ll explain their customer’s right to bring their complaint to us - and the six month time limit for doing so. If a business doesn’t explain these rights, then it’s not a “valid” final response and the time limit won’t apply.

Previously, if a complaint was referred to us six months after the final response was sent to the consumer, the business could object to us looking into the complaint - but if they didn’t, we could go ahead and look into things.

But now - since the new rules have come into force - we’re only able to look into complaints referred to us after six months if the business agrees that we can. Businesses have to say in their final response letters if they would agree to us looking into a complaint if it came to us late. And if they agree, they can’t change their mind later on.

Just as before, we’ll always consider whether there were exceptional circumstances - such as serious illness or being out of the country over the six month period - which meant someone couldn’t contact us sooner. If that’s the case for your constituent, it would be helpful if they could explain what happened when they first get in touch with us.

I heard the new alternative dispute resolution (ADR) regulations don’t apply to trusts and charities. Does that mean you can’t help with their complaints anymore?

The new regulations set out some minimum standards for handling complaints from individual consumers. But we’ll still be able to help trusts and charities with their complaints - and it’s important to us that everyone who uses us continues to receive the same level of service.

As always, to be able to help a charity or trust, we’ll need to confirm that their annual income - or net asset value - was less than £1 million when they complained to the business.

For complaints about pensions, should people go to you or the Pensions Ombudsman Service?

Broadly speaking, we look into complaints about how pensions were sold - and whether the arrangements were suitable for the individuals involved.

On the other hand, the Pensions Ombudsman Service looks into complaints about the administration or management of pension schemes - or about pension schemes offered to employees by their employers.

The situation can be complex - so if someone’s in any doubt, they can contact either of our services. If we think the complaint would be better handled by the other, we’ll pass it on. We’ve set out these arrangements in our memorandum of understanding.

Complaints about state pensions are dealt with by the Pension Service - part of the Department for Work and Pensions.

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.