Read about how we deal with complaints against businesses.
When we receive a complaint about your business we’ll ask you to look at it if you haven’t already done so. Once you’ve given the customer your final response, or the time to do so has passed, we’ll look into the complaint.
We’ll check the complaint is something we can deal with and 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.
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.
We’ll often need some information from you. Depending on what the complaint is, we might ask for copies of things like:
- relevant terms and conditions
- application forms
- sales documents
We’ll let you know what we need, and by when. You should send us anything you think is important, even if we haven’t asked for it. 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.
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 technical desk, which is a free service for businesses.