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ombudsman news

issue 128

September 2015

Q&As


why do you need adjudicators and ombudsmen?

Last year we received almost two million phone calls, emails and letters from people with questions and concerns about money matters. Because our helpline was able to resolve many problems in a matter of days - and often on the spot - only one in five of these initial enquiries needed any further involvement on our part.

We were set up to be an informal service - an alternative to the courts. Our adjudicators have the necessary technical expertise in the particular products and services involved in the complaints they look into. But equally importantly they’re problem solvers - experts in unpicking what might have gone wrong and agreeing a way forward. And nine times out of ten, this problem solving work - listening to both sides and helping them see eye to eye - is enough to sort out even the most complicated problem.

But a small proportion of the situations we’re called into are particularly entrenched - often long before we become involved. If either side - or both - doesn’t want to accept our adjudicator’s answer to their dispute, they have the right to ask an ombudsman to take an independent look and make a final decision on what’s fair.

Our ombudsmen play a key role in training and supporting our adjudicators, to make sure our answers are consistent and right first time. And in the vast majority of cases - around 90% - the ombudsman reaches the same conclusions as the adjudicator.

I'm dealing with a customer's complaint. I don't think the ombudsman would uphold it - and I want something to confirm that. Where's the best place to look?

You can search our decisions database by outcome, product area and key words. It now has almost 80,000 decisions published and is updated all the time. So if you’re looking for answers we’ve already given about a particular product or service, that would be a good place to start.

For more practical examples of how problems can arise and how we’ve resolved them, you can also look through previous issues of ombudsman news - either on our our new app or by searching on our website.

But it’s worth remembering that each decision and case study will be based on a very specific set of circumstances. So while reading them should give you a good idea of our general approach - and of course, businesses are required to learn from our decisions - you shouldn’t rely on them to conclude we’d definitely reject your customer’s complaint.

If you’d like to talk though what’s happened - and how to apply our approach in your customer’s individual circumstances - you can phone our technical advice desk on 020 7964 1400. And - after responding to feedback - the desk is now open from 8am to 6pm.

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.