This page sets out for financial businesses information about our case-handling process, including what information to send us and the stages of our investigation.
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Complaints we deal with
Find out how we resolve complaints about different types of financial product or service.
When we receive a complaint about your financial business we’ll check that you have already had the chance to look at it and to try to resolve the complaint before we get involved. Once you’ve given the customer your final response, or the time to do so has passed, we’ll look into the complaint. In summary:
- we’ll check the complaint is something we can deal with and we will ask you for your side of the story
- one of our case handlers will investigate and let you know the outcome based on what they think is fair and reasonable
- if you or your customer disagree with this, you can ask for a final decision from an ombudsman
We'll ask you for information about the complaint
While we determine each case individually based on its own merits, we have set out the typical information we would normally expect to receive from financial businesses based on the type of complaint. You can use our online tool to find out more about what to send us in some of the more common areas of complaint we see. We may ask for further information or documents, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Both parties can provide additional information they think is relevant in the circumstances of the individual complaint. But our case handlers and our ombudsmen will determine what information they need to see on each case.
If either party fails to provide information we have asked for in the time given in each case, we may proceed with out investigation and reach an initial assessment or a final decision on the information we do have.
In all cases, we will need a copy of the final response letter and a clear outline of your current position.
If you think a complaint is outside of our jurisdiction
Our jurisdiction is determined by applying the Dispute Resolution (DISP) rules that govern our service to the facts of each individual complaint.
If you think the complaint falls outside of our jurisdiction for one of the factual reasons set out, please tell us as soon as possible and provide the relevant supporting documentation.
We set out a summary of our jurisdiction and the information we need to see if you think we cannot investigate the complaint.
Investigating the complaint
A case handler will look into the complaint and contact you and the customer by phone, email or post. We’ll keep you updated throughout our investigation.
You should send us anything you think is important, even if we haven’t asked for it. We provide a way for businesses to check the information they should send to us as part of a complaint or case file, covering the specific types of complaint we tend to see most often, across a range of industry sectors. We may ask for further information or documents, depending on the circumstances of the case. We’ll let you know what we need, and by when.
If there’s a reason you can’t send us the information by the date we’ve asked for it, it is important that you let us know straight away. If we do not hear from you by the deadline we’ve set, we can move things on to the next stage of our process – this could mean, for example, that we continue with our investigation and issue findings based on the information we have available, in the absence of a response. You can read more about our powers to resolve and decide complaints in how we make decisions.
While we’re dealing with the complaint
While we consider a complaint, you can continue to deal with your customer as normal. But if anything you do is relevant to the complaint, or you want to make an offer to resolve things, you should let us know.
We’re likely to recommend that you wait until we’ve finished investigating the complaint before you take any related legal action (such as proceedings to recover a debt).
You should tell us about any action you’re thinking of taking.
Making an offer to proactively settle a complaint
If you make an offer to resolve a complaint shortly after we move it to investigation, and the consumer accepts, this may count as a ‘proactively settled’ complaint.
Proactively settled complaints aren’t recorded as a change in favour of the consumer in our half-yearly complaints data. This means they don't count towards your change in outcome rate and will be recorded separately. We’re trialling this third category in our data until March 2024.
You must make an offer – or notify us that you’re going to make an offer – within 14 days of us telling you we’ve moved a complaint to investigation. Read more about time limits that apply when handling a complaint.
If we think the offer is fair, we'll tell the consumer. If they accept the offer, we'll record it as proactively settled and consider the complaint resolved.
The complaint won’t count as proactively settled if the consumer doesn’t accept the offer, or the offer’s made outside of the timing set out above.
It also won’t count as proactively settled if you make an offer directly to the consumer after we move the case to investigation. It must come through us, otherwise we’ll record it as a change in outcome.
Where to send your offer and supporting evidence
You should send the offer and supporting evidence to [email protected], making it as clear as possible that the case is a 14-day proactive offer. Some firms have said they can't include this in the subject line, but where you can, it will be helpful. We’ll then be able to identify the case and ensure it is dealt with quickly.
We’ll check whether the offer is fair and reasonable before putting it to the consumer. It’s important to give us enough information to help us work this out. This could range from details of a consumer’s financial losses on a case involving a scam to a detailed explanation about how a customer has been impacted by poor customer service.
Case fees and proactively settled complaints
We’ll charge a standard case fee for these complaints, but we’re considering our longer-term funding structure. We’ll analyse the insight and data we get from this trial, but it’s unlikely our fee structure will change prior to the 2024/25 financial year.
Case studies – did we record these complaints as proactively settled?
Terry complained that he lost £30,000 in a scam. His bank sent him a final response letter rejecting his complaint. But when he complained to our service, they made an offer to proactively settle the complaint.
Terry’s bank said they hadn’t done anything wrong after he lost the £30,000, but Terry wasn’t happy with their response. He referred his complaint to our service.
We informed Terry’s bank of the complaint. As they responded to us within 14 days with an offer to resolve the complaint, the complaint had the potential to be recorded as proactively settled.
Their offer was to reimburse Terry the £30,000 he lost, but without any compensatory interest.
Did we record the complaint as proactively settled?
The quick offer to reimburse Terry in full suggests that the bank could have done more to resolve the complaint before it reached our service.
That being said, our investigator looked at whether the bank’s offer was fair. While she was satisfied that Terry was being reimbursed, she noted that our usual approach in these situations is to recommend compensatory interest. This makes up for the time people are without funds.
The investigator told Terry about the offer, making it clear that the redress proposed by the bank probably didn’t go as far as what we’d recommend after a full investigation. It was then up to Terry to decide whether to accept the offer, or whether he’d like us to continue investigating the complaint.
If Terry accepted the offer at that stage, we’d close the complaint and record it as proactively settled. If he didn’t accept the offer, we’d continue to investigate the complaint and record it as either a change in outcome or no change in outcome.
Poppy's insurer made an offer to settle her complaint within 14 days of us telling them that we’d received it.
Poppy complained to her insurer about a claim she made on her travel insurance. She thought that the settlement was too low. She also said there were delays in processing the claim. The insurer didn’t agree, so Poppy got in touch with us.
The insurer made an offer to settle the complaint within 14 days of us telling them that we’d received it. This meant that the complaint had the potential to be recorded as proactively settled.
They offered £150 to compensate for the delays in processing the claim, but nothing in relation to the claim itself.
Did we record the complaint as proactively settled?
Our investigator considered the fairness of the offer. He thought that £150 to compensate for the delays was reasonable but felt that this offer could’ve been made before the complaint reached us.
The evidence we’d received also wasn’t enough to say whether the decision not to increase the settlement was fair.
Given this was a key aspect of Poppy’s complaint, our investigator couldn’t endorse the offer as fair. While he informed Poppy of the offer and explained that the offer to pay £150 to compensate for poor service was reasonable, he couldn’t advise Poppy about the value of the claim. He explained that he’d need to investigate further to determine this.
Poppy was free to accept the offer. If she’d done so, we would have closed the complaint and recorded it as proactively settled.
But as she asked us to investigate further, the eventual resolution would be recorded as either a change in outcome or no change in outcome.
When Jennifer's complaint reached us, her building society made an offer to proactively settle the issue, but Jennifer didn't accept their first offer.
Jennifer complained to her building society that she’d received poor customer service when she called to make a balance transfer on her credit card. She said she had to wait over an hour to speak to someone. And when she eventually got through, they couldn’t help – which meant she had to call again the following day. While the transfer was initiated at this stage, she again spent a considerable amount of time on hold.
In their final response letter, the building society apologised for the poor service and offered Jennifer £100 as compensation. Unhappy with this amount, she referred her complaint to our service. The building society responded to us within 14 days, increasing the offer of compensation to £150.
This meant the complaint had the potential to be recorded as proactively settled.
Did we record the complaint as proactively settled?
Our investigator considered the offer as fair. She explained this to Jennifer. She said that from what she’d seen, the compensation offered by the business was in line with similar complaints we’d considered in the past.
Jennifer remained unhappy with the offer and argued that she’d spent a considerable amount of time on the issue. She said that this had caused her to miss an appointment, for which she wouldn’t receive a refund. She said that she felt £250 would be a reasonable amount to compensate her for what happened.
Our investigator put Jennifer’s counteroffer to the building society. They agreed to pay her £250 to resolve the complaint. Our investigator then closed the complaint.
As the complaint wasn’t resolved by the business’ first offer, the investigator recorded the complaint as a change in outcome rather than proactively settled.
Telling you what we think
We’ll weigh up everything we’ve been given and tell you and your customer what we think. We’ll often do this over the phone, but we’ll always follow up our view in writing.
Where we think you’ve treated your customer fairly, we’ll say so. But if we think they’ve lost out, we’ll explain why and what you need to do to put things right. Most complaints are resolved at this stage.
If you or your customer don’t agree with what we’ve said, you can ask for the complaint to be referred to an ombudsman.
An ombudsman’s decision
If an ombudsman looks into your case, you’ll need to send any relevant information we haven’t already seen before they issue their decision. We’ll give you plenty of opportunity to do this.
The ombudsman will look at all the information and individual circumstances of the complaint, taking into account things like relevant law, regulations and good practice. They’ll decide what’s fair and reasonable in their opinion, and give the consumer a certain amount of time to accept or reject their decision.
An ombudsman’s decision marks the end of our involvement in the dispute.
If your customer accepts our final decision within the time given, it’s legally binding for both parties. You’ll have to do what the ombudsman has said to put things right.
If your customer doesn’t accept the decision, then it isn’t binding. However, they could still choose to take the issue to court.
Occasionally, a consumer might accept the decision after the deadline has passed. If this happens, we’ll let you know if the decision is still binding.
Complaints about how we’ve handled a case
If you’re unhappy with how we’ve handled a case, let us know why and we’ll review the level of service we gave you.
Please be aware this isn’t a way of reviewing the outcome of a case.
Find out how to complain about our service.
If you’ve got questions about our general approach, you can contact our Business Support Hub, which is a free service for businesses.