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our service standards

The Financial Ombudsman Service was set up by Parliament as the official expert in settling individual disputes between consumers and businesses providing financial services. Our aim is to resolve disputes fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally.

We know we can't please everyone all the time - and our decisions are often disappointing for the side that doesn't hear what they wanted to hear. But whatever the outcome of your case, we hope you will be satisfied with the level of service we provide.

We know that, as in any organisation, things can sometimes go wrong. Please tell us if this happens, so that we can put things right and learn from any mistakes.

This page tells you about the service standards we aim to meet and what to do if you are unhappy with the service we have provided.

our contact with you

In all our contact with our customers - consumers and businesses - we expect our staff to be polite, considerate and professional.

Many of the disputes we are asked to settle involve complex financial and legal issues. But we always try to explain our views and decisions clearly, without using jargon.

Depending how complicated a case is, we can sort out some complaints within just a few weeks - and over half of cases within three months. But some disputes can take longer - for example, complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) - can take over a year.

And some cases can take longer if they involve very complex issues or require a formal decision by an ombudsman. How we allocate and prioritise cases is affected by the number and type of complaints that consumers refer to us.

When we start work on your case, we will keep you informed about the progress we are making and about what you need to do next. You will always know the name of the person handling your case and you can contact them direct with any questions - by letter, email or phone.

taking your views into account

We will always take account of what you tell us about the case. But we also have to consider carefully the other side of the story. We listen to the facts and arguments from both sides and balance them carefully to help form our view. If you disagree with our view, you can ask us to reconsider the matter. We will explain how you can do that.

In the majority of cases, we are usually able to settle the dispute informally to the satisfaction of both sides - by making suggestions and recommendations that the business and consumer both accept. In a small number of cases, one of our ombudsmen will need to make a formal decision, to settle the matter.

Our ombudsmen and adjudicators base their decisions on what they consider is the fair and reasonable approach in the particular circumstances of each individual case.

An ombudsman's decision is final. There is no further appeal to another ombudsman. This means you must make sure you have given us all your facts and arguments before an ombudsman makes their final decision - otherwise it will be too late.

accessibility - meeting your needs

We aim to be accessible to everyone. We can provide information about our service in different formats (for example, in Braille, large print, and on audiotape), and we can receive calls via Text Relay (formerly known as TypeTalk).

We can also provide information about our service in languages other than English. And if you want to phone us but prefer to use a language other than English, we can get an interpreter on the line right away.

If you have other accessibility or practical needs, please let us know. We will try to help.

if you are unhappy about the service we have provided

If you are unhappy with the conclusions we are reaching, tell the adjudicator handling your case. If we cannot resolve the dispute informally to the satisfaction of both sides, it will be for one of our ombudsmen to make a formal decision on the case. The ombudsman's decision will be final.

Please also let us know if you are unhappy with the level of service we have provided - whatever the actual outcome of the individual case. For example, we want to hear if you think, in handling the case, we have:

  • treated you rudely or unfairly;
  • failed to explain things properly; or
  • caused unnecessary delays (but please bear in mind our usual time-frame for resolving disputes, as explained above).

We take complaints like this about our service very seriously. If we get things wrong, it's important that you tell us, so we can try to put matters right. This also helps us improve our service in future for other customers.

Our special procedure for handling complaints about the level of service we provide is open to consumers and businesses alike. This is entirely separate from the usual process that applies if you disagree with our views on the merits of your case - and want us to re-consider facts and arguments.

what to do if you are still not happy - the independent assessor

tell the person dealing with your case

The first step if you're not happy is to tell the person dealing with your case. Most of the time, they'll be able to get things sorted for you straight away. You can do this by phone, post or email.

If you don't know who to contact, you can phone our consumer helpline on 0300 123 9 123, or our PPI helpline on 0800 121 6222.

They'll put you in touch with someone who can help.

tell the team manager

If you don't feel the problem has been sorted out, the next step is to speak to a team manager. The team manager will look into your concerns - and let you know what they think.

tell a senior manager

If the team manager isn't able to sort things out, you can ask one of our senior managers to look into your concerns. The senior manager will respond to you as soon as possible, and within 20 working days. If they need more time, they'll let you know and
explain why.

contact the independent assessor

If you're still unhappy after the senior manager has looked into your concerns, you can contact the independent assessor, Ms Amerdeep Somal.

The senior manager will give you details of how to contact Ms Somal once they've responded to your concerns.

how we handle abusive behaviour

We recognise that the complaints we look at are very important to our customers.

The personal safety and wellbeing of our people is really important to us. So we won't accept or tolerate any violent, abusive or threatening behaviour that's directed toward our staff. This includes:

  • offensive language, including that which may be racist, sexist or homophobic
  • aggressive or threatening behaviour - including the threat of physical violence
  • any form of discrimination

In some situations, we may decide not to continue looking at the complaint. We might also decide that we're not prepared to communicate with someone directly.

more information

There is more information about our complaints procedure and the role of our independent assessor in our special factsheet: