In reaching an assessment of an individual complaint, the ombudsman needs to take into account all the circumstances of the case. This will include:
- any relevant circumstances particular to the individual consumer and sale; and
- where it appears that the sales process used by the financial business is designed and delivered as a standardised process, the features of that sales process.
To assist in the process of assessing the sale, we will take into account all the evidence available. This might include:
- the documentation produced at the time;
- the consumer's (or the financial business's) recollections of the sales process;
- recordings of relevant phone conversations;
- sales scripts and staff training-material;
- the typical outcomes of the sales process at the time;
- and information from regulatory authorities.
We need to consider the overall picture, not specific issues in isolation. So, for example, a piece of information given to a consumer during a sales process cannot be read in isolation. Instead, some consideration needs to be given to:
- the point in the process at which the information was provided;
- the way in which the information was communicated; and
- the issues facing the consumer at the time.
If a standardised sales process is found to have been inadequate, it may be difficult to avoid the conclusion that most complaints about sales made under that process should be upheld.
There is more information about this in the section of our website our approach to payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-sale complaints.