Resolving a complaint

We have years of experience dealing with financial disputes, and use this knowledge to help businesses resolve complaints fairly and effectively.

This guide outlines what happens when you receive a complaint from a customer. It covers each step of the process – whether it’s a complaint that can be quickly resolved by you or something more complex that needs our help.


A customer makes a complaint to your business

If a customer has a complaint about your business, you’ll always have an opportunity to try and resolve it before we get involved.

You should treat any expression of dissatisfaction from your customer – in person, over the phone or in writing – as a complaint.


You deal with the complaint

Once you receive the complaint, you’ll need to acknowledge it and look into it within the timeframes set out by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) DISP rules.

You’ll then need to write to your customer setting out your response to their complaint. It’s important to be clear with them and explain the reasons for your answer.

You’ll also need to tell them about our service, and explain that they can bring their complaint to us if they don’t agree with you.

Find out more about what you need to do before we get involved.

If the customer accepts your response, there won’t be any need for us to get involved.

If you have any questions or need general guidance on dealing with complaints, our technical desk is on hand to help.


The customer brings the complaint to us

If the customer isn’t happy with your response, or they haven’t heard from you within the time allowed, they can ask us to get involved.

One of our case handlers will look into the complaint. If it’s something we can deal with, we’ll ask for both sides of the story and investigate what’s happened.  

Most complaints can be resolved at this stage, without the need for an ombudsman to get involved.

Find out more about how we handle complaints.

Find out about when we charge case fees.


The complaint is referred to an ombudsman

If you or the customer don’t agree with what we’ve said, the complaint can be referred to an ombudsman.

They’ll independently review the case and make a final decision based on what they think is fair and reasonable in the circumstances of the case. Their decision is legally binding if it’s accepted by the customer.

Find our more about how we handle complaints



Putting things right

If we decide the customer has lost out we’ll tell you how to put things right. In most cases, this will mean putting your customer back in the position they’d be in if things hadn’t gone wrong.

This might involve paying money or compensating the customer for any distress and inconvenience caused.

Find out more about compensation.


The impact of Covid-19 on complaint handling

The impact of Covid-19, and the associated public health measures, mean that financial businesses are having to work differently. The industry regulator, The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has set out its expectations for financial businesses’ complaint handling at this time, including what businesses should do in relation to handling and prioritising complaints. You can find the full detail of its statement on its website.

We, too, are having to work differently. Although our phone lines are open and we are continuing to resolve complaints that have been referred to us, we expect that there will be an inevitable impact on how long things take. Particularly where we need to obtain information from businesses. We continue to engage with businesses where we can, to ensure that we can progress cases referred to us in a timely and efficient way. 


Financial Ombudsman Service for small businesses

Are you a small business?

If you’re a small business (SME) and want to make a complaint to us, head to our dedicated small business website for more information about how we can help.

Claims Management Ombudsman - a Financial Ombudsman Service

Need help with a claims management dispute?

We can also help with complaints about claims management companies (CMCs). If you have a complaint, or you’re a CMC dealing with a complaint, head to the Claims Management Ombudsman website for more information.