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ombudsman news

issue 71

August 2008

ask ombudsman news

forms and more forms

You recently upheld my client's complaint against an investment company. He signed the settlement form you sent him in connection with the money the company has to pay him.

However, that company has said he must now complete and sign its own agreement before it will release any money. Is this right-

a consumer adviser emails ...

In issue 59 of ombudsman news (January/February 2007) we answered a very similar question. The position hasn't changed.

Once a consumer has accepted an ombudsman's decision, it is binding in law on both parties. No further formalities are required. Consumers do not need to sign any further agreement forms and businesses should not ask them to do so.

responding to complaints via email

Increasingly, our customers are using email to get in touch with us, and there's a growing tendency for any complaints to be made this way - rather than by letter.

If we send a final response to a consumer's complaint by email, what do we do about the ombudsman's leaflet- Do we still need to put a hard-copy version of the leaflet in the post to these customers-

a banking firm asks ...

Under the complaints-handling rules, businesses must give consumers our leaflet at the appropriate stage in the complaints procedure.

This means that businesses covered by the ombudsman must send our consumer leaflet:

  • when they send a consumer their final response to a complaint or
  • if they are not yet in a position to send a final response, but have run out of time.

In the situation you outline, where the consumer has referred their complaint to you by email, and you are sending your final response by email, you may include within that final response a hypertext link to the version of the consumer leaflet that is on our website.

If you do this, you should mention in your response that you will also send the consumer a hard-copy version of the leaflet, if the consumer requests one.

dealing with consumer-credit complaints

Ours is a small family-run business, selling jewellery. We have a consumer-credit licence issued by the Office of Fair Trading, as we offer customers a credit facility for more expensive items.

I know that we're now covered by the ombudsman service for any complaints about the consumer credit we provide. However, I must admit I'm not as aware as I should be about what we should do if we ever got a complaint of this sort. We'd like to be properly prepared, just in case. Can you help-

the manager of a jewellery shop

You will find all the information you need in our online consumer credit resource, listed under "technical notes" on the publications page of our website.

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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.