If you want to talk informally about a complaint you’ve received, you can speak to our technical desk. We might be able to help you resolve the problem at an early stage.
Our technical desk talks to people involved with resolving complaints – such as businesses, claims handlers and consumer advisers – about complaints that haven’t yet been brought to the ombudsman.
We can give general information on how the ombudsman might look at a particular complaint. We also offer guidance on our rules and how we work.
Case studies - how we've helped
Resolving complaints early on
A car finance company asked us for help with a dispute. A customer had noticed a fault with their car, shortly after taking out a hire purchase agreement to buy it. After agreeing to a repair with the dealership, the customer changed their mind and wanted to return the car and end the finance agreement.
The finance company had initially refused, saying that as the customer agreed to the repair it was too late to change their mind. The consumer had made a complaint and, unsure what to do next, the finance company called the advice desk. We explained that, by law, a person can reject a car – within 30 days of taking ownership – if they discover a fault that was present, or developing, when it was sold. As the repair work hadn’t started, and no repair costs had been incurred, we suggested that to help resolve the complaint the customer should be allowed to reject the car.
Explaining our rules
An Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) called us with a query about the DISP rules and whether a customer would be out of time to make a complaint to us. The IFA had received a complaint about a pension transfer made over 20 years ago, and wasn’t sure how to proceed.
We explained the time limits that apply, in particular the “six and three year” rule, and how it might affect the complaint. As the transfer was more than six years ago, the complaint would have to be made within three years of the date the consumer became aware, or ought to have become aware, they had cause to complain.
Discussing fair compensation
A medical insurer called us after it gave incorrect information to a policyholder, about cover for treatment in a psychiatric hospital. The insurer had initially told the policyholder there was unlimited cover. But when treatment started the insurer said the policy only covered the first 100 days.
We pointed out the uncertainty about cover could cause even more worry for the policyholder. We suggested the insurer should cover the hospital stay for the initial period, as recommended by the treating doctor. This allowed for the initial treatment needed, and enough time to plan for aftercare.
Using the technical desk
Our technical desk provides information on an informal basis. It’s important to remember that we only ever hear one side of the story. If the complaint ends up getting formally referred to the ombudsman service, our case handler might reach a different answer – based on what they’ve heard from both sides, and what’s fair and reasonable in all the circumstances.
If you’re a complaint handler who’s contacted us for support, you shouldn’t tell your customer that we’ve endorsed your answer about their complaint. 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.
If you have a question about a case that's already been referred to us, please get in touch with the case handler.