Advice and guidance
We might be able to help you resolve the problem at an early stage, by guiding you through our approach to complaints about any regulated financial product or service.
We can also help with other queries, such as our approach to compensation for distress or inconvenience.
Businesses that aren’t covered by our compulsory jurisdiction can apply to join our voluntary jurisdiction so that we can look at complaints about them.
Our Business Support Hub can answer any questions you may have about signing up for voluntary jurisdiction.
We ask that in any correspondence or conversation with us, you don’t mention a customer’s name or any identifying details and you shouldn’t tell your customer that that you’ve spoken to us about a complaint in your response.
This might deter that customer from taking things further by referring their complaint to us – which they’re entitled to do under the complaint-handling rules.
Our Business Support Hub is a free resource for financial businesses and professional consumer advisers. This page outlines how to use it and the different ways we can help.
If you’re a consumer looking to make a new complaint or want to contact us about an update to an existing case, you can find ways to contact us.
Enquiries we have helped with
At the Business Support Hub, we’re often the first to hear about cases that result from developments in the economy or events in the wider world. These examples will give you an idea of how we approach enquiries.
A relatively small banking and payment services provider contacted us after a customer with dyslexia asked them to read the terms and conditions of their account over the phone. The caller explained that their current method of helping consumers with dyslexia is to send documents printed on different coloured paper.
The business also wanted to know whether we’d expect them to read out the entire document as the customer had requested, or support them in another way.
What we said
We explained that, if a complaint was referred to our service, we’d consider why the customer wanted to have the whole document read out. What questions had the business asked to find this out? And what had the customer said about how this particular adjustment could help them understand the terms?
We also asked the business if there was there something specific in the terms and conditions that the customer was looking for or didn't understand. If the customer was concerned about a particular term, then the business could discuss this with them in more detail.
We reminded the business of their duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments. We said it would be reasonable for the business to read out – or provide a recording of them reading out – the key summary document. However, it would probably not be the whole terms and conditions document, if that’s lengthy. That would depend on the information the customer had shared about their dyslexia and whether this would be an unreasonable burden on the business.
We also suggested the business look into providing their terms and conditions in a more accessible format that allows screen-readers and other appropriate software to read the content out to customers. Finally, we reminded the business that dyslexia affects people in different ways, and therefore each individual will need different adjustments.
After a problem with its payment terminal, a financial company contacted our Business Support Hub to check whether their proposed compensation package seemed fair and reasonable.
The business explained the payment terminal hadn’t processed cardholders’ transactions properly for about an hour. Once the payment terminal was working again, the system debited the backlog of transactions twice – which meant cardholders paid twice for each transaction.
The cardholders were the customers of merchants and other commercial companies who, in turn, were the business’s clients. Most of the affected clients were limited companies. The caller told our Business Support Hub it was contacting all its affected clients to apologise and provide refunds to cardholders for the duplicate transactions.
As compensation, the business was thinking of offering each client £100 for the distress and inconvenience caused. They’d also provide a letter for clients to show the cardholders, confirming that what happened was due to an error with the business’s system.
And they’d cover any additional costs cardholders might have incurred as a result of the transactions being debited twice, such as overdraft charges. They wanted to know whether we felt their proposal sounded fair.
What we said
We said we felt the business was on the right lines by offering the refunds, reputational letter and by covering costs the cardholders might have incurred.
In terms of distress and inconvenience, we explained how we approach compensation for limited companies. That is, they’re entities that can’t experience distress in the same way an individual can. However, they may have suffered damage to their reputation, or their business operations may have been impacted.
We explained we’d have to consider the individual circumstances to decide what a fair level of compensation would be. For some clients, £100 might be reasonable. Others however, might have suffered more severe impacts, like losing a major client, in which case £100 might not be sufficient.
We pointed the business to information about our approach to distress and inconvenience. And we added we’d be happy to discuss complaints on a case-by-case basis, if the business wanted further guidance once they’d spoken to their clients about the impact.
A motor insurer called us to ask how to approach a theft claim where the customer had abandoned her vehicle to help someone in an emergency.
The customer was driving when she noticed a woman in distress, who appeared to be running from an attacker. She stopped, called the police and – leaving her car unlocked, with the keys in the ignition – ran to the other side of the road to help the woman.
While she was helping the woman, someone jumped in her car and drove it away.
The business told us their policy excluded claims where the keys had been left in or on the vehicle and that the woman had left her car unattended. They were thinking of declining the claim based on this wording and asked if we’d consider this fair.
What we said
We explained our starting point will be to consider the policy wording. We’d then consider whether it’s fair and reasonable to apply a strict interpretation of the wording, given the circumstances of the claim.
In cases where a customer is responding to an emergency, we might expect the business to pay out on a claim if we think the customer has acted reasonably.
We said we’d be likely to think it fair for the business to pay the claim, given the customer had had to react quickly. We added she may not have thought about securing her vehicle as the woman's safety was at risk.
The business said they tended to agree.
A business called us to get guidance on whether we’d consider the cost-of-living crisis “exceptional circumstances” after a customer requested access to a fixed-rate savings bond. The terms of the bond stipulated the funds couldn’t be accessed until the bond matured – other than in “exceptional circumstances”.
The firm explained they do not define “exceptional circumstances” within the product documents. But they generally only allow access to the funds in circumstances, like bereavement or bankruptcy.
The firm wanted to check whether we thought they should be allowing their customer access to the money in light of the cost-of-living crisis.
What we said
We told the firm that if this case came to us, we’d want to understand a bit more about customer’s circumstances.
Overall, we agreed that the term “exceptional circumstances” would usually apply to bereavement and bankruptcy. However, we explained that if this case came to us we might feel they could be a little more flexible in what they considered “exceptional circumstances”.
We pointed out that firms are expected to treat customers fairly and have regard for their interests. In particular, a business should think about whether a customer is vulnerable or at risk of vulnerability.
If, for example, the customer was falling into arrears on their mortgage, we might feel the business should allow the customer access to the funds.
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