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ombudsman news

issue 33

November 2003

technical advice desk

Our technical advice desk deals with a range of queries from people working in financial services firms (complaints-handlers, compliance officers etc) and in the consumer advice sector (citizens advice bureaux, trading standards etc).

Staffed by experts familiar with complaints-handling issues, the advice desk can help with most queries about our process and the complaints-handling rules. We are also happy to receive feedback - whether positive or negative - about the Financial Ombudsman Service generally.

"can I run a case past you to see what you think-"

Most of the queries are from firms wanting to run cases past us on an informal basis - to see how they can resolve a particular complaint. The advice desk can generally give a broad indication of how the ombudsman service has viewed similar cases in the past. The aim is to give constructive, practical suggestions and guidance, helping those who seek our advice to decide what to do next.

there are a few ground rules ...

We cannot give any guidance on cases that have already been referred to the ombudsman service. Any guidance we give on other matters is informal and the ombudsman service cannot be bound by it if the case is later referred here.

The technical advice desk will have heard just one side of the story, so we'll not be in a position to provide any definitive statement about a case. Any view we give might change once the other side in the dispute has had their say. So it is important you do not mention any guidance from the technical advice desk when you write to consumers or telephone them about their complaints.

Firms that already use the technical advice desk find that our information and advice helps them to settle more disputes at an early stage. This reduces the number of complaints that are referred formally to the ombudsman service - with obvious benefits for everyone.

contact details

Contact us by phone - 020 7964 1400 - or email us at technical.advice@financial-ombudsman.org.uk

We will usually be able to respond within three working days. The service is free.

Please do not give our technical advice contact details directly to your customers. Unlike our customer contact division, the technical advice desk is not geared up to deal with large-scale consumer enquiries. The number that consumers should use is 0845 080 1800.

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news issue 33 [PDF format]

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.