Have you had a problem with a financial business? If you’re not happy with how things have turned out, you can ask us to step in.
We’re a free service set up by Parliament to resolve complaints. If we decide you’ve been treated unfairly, we have the power to put things right.
On this page
- How can the ombudsman help?
- When can the ombudsman step in?
- How long have I got to complain?
- What will happen after I contact you?
- I run a business – can you help me?
- How can the ombudsman put things right?
- What if I don’t agree with your answer?
- How long does it take?
- Is it like going to court?
- Can I still go to court?
- Find out more
This version of our consumer leaflet is designed to be read on screen. All the information contained in the leaflet can also be found on our website.
Consumers can get a printed version on 0300 123 9123.
In some cases, complaint-handling rules mean that businesses have to give customers an official printed copy of our leaflet. Find out more information about the complaint-handling rules.
Businesses can order supplies of the leaflet from us for their customers. Or we can provide businesses an electronic version of the leaflet, so they can print it themselves under a licence from us – contact us for more information.
If a customer has referred their complaint by email, businesses can email them a link to this web page (not a print-out of this page) – rather than posting them a physical copy.
How can the ombudsman help?
We can resolve complaints about most financial services, including:
- bank accounts, payments and cards
- other banking services such as cash machines or deposit boxes
- payment protection insurance (PPI)
- home, car, travel and other types of insurance
- loans and other credit, like car finance
- debt collection and repayment problems
- financial advice, investments and pensions
As well as looking at complaints from individuals, we can help certain small businesses and charities. You can read more about this below.
When can the ombudsman step in?
If you want to complain, give the financial business a chance to resolve things first. Tell them what’s happened and how you want things put right.
If you’re not sure where to begin, get in touch with us and we’ll help get things started.
The financial business has to give their final response to your complaint within 8 weeks at the most, depending on what you’re complaining about.
If you’re not happy with how things turn out – or you don’t get an answer from the business – contact us.
We can adjust our service to meet your needs – so please just ask us if you need us to do anything differently, and we’ll do our best to help. If you’d prefer, we can also talk to someone else on your behalf – such as a friend or family member.
How long have I got to complain?
Time limits apply when making a complaint. So it’s best to take action as soon as you realise there’s a problem.
We might not be able to help if:
- what you’re complaining about happened more than 6 years ago, and
- you complain more than 3 years from when you became aware (or should have become aware) that you had a reason to complain.
And you’ll need to contact us within 6 months of the business’s final response.
The deadline for complaining to your provider about mis‑sold PPI was 29 August 2019. You can find out more at www.fca.org.uk/ppi.
What will happen after I contact you?
We’ll need some details about you and your circumstances – so we can understand the problem and the impact it’s had.
We’ll also ask the financial business for their view about what’s happened.
Once we’ve got all the information we need, we’ll weigh everything up and let you know how we think your complaint should be resolved.
I run a business – can you help me?
We can consider complaints from small businesses about financial providers, as long as the small business meets certain criteria.
We can help micro‑enterprises, which means businesses with:
- a turnover or annual balance sheet that does not exceed 2 million euros; and
- fewer than 10 employees.
We can also help small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) that have:
- an annual turnover of less than £6.5 million (or its equivalent in any other currency);
- and either:
- a balance-sheet total of less than £5 million (or its equivalent in any other currency), or
- fewer than 50 employees.
For SMEs, we can only investigate complaints about things that happened on or after 1 April 2019. You can find out more on our Financial Ombudsman for small businesses site.
The situation isn’t always straightforward. If you get in touch, we’ll let you know if we can help – and if not, what your other options might be.
How can the ombudsman put things right?
Sometimes we decide that the business has already done enough in response to a complaint. If that’s the case, we’ll explain why.
But if we decide you’ve been treated unfairly, we’ll tell the business to put things right. For example, we can tell them to do one or several of the following things:
- pay an award for financial loss
- refund fees and charges you shouldn’t have paid
- pay compensation for any distress and inconvenience you’ve been through
Find out more about how much we can tell a business to pay you.
What if I don’t agree with your answer?
Your case will be considered by one of our investigators or adjudicators. They’ll look at both sides and give you their answer. We resolve nine in ten complaints this way.
However, if you don’t agree with our answer, you can ask for a final decision from one of our ombudsmen.
If you accept the ombudsman’s final decision, the financial business has to do what the ombudsman says.
If you don’t accept it, that’s the end of our involvement. But you can still take your complaint to court.
At any point, you can let us know that you no longer want our help.
How long does it take?
We look at each case individually, so how long it takes to sort out your complaint depends on how complex it is – and how long it takes to get all the information we need. It will also take longer if you or the business don’t agree with our initial assessment, and want an ombudsman to make a formal, final decision.
You can find up‑to‑date information about our general timescales on our how long it takes page.
Generally, we aim to acknowledge and allocate your case to a case handler within a few weeks – although at busy times it can take significantly longer. Most cases are then resolved within 90 days.
Is it like going to court?
No – it’s very different. We were set up as an informal and free alternative to the courts. To use us, you won’t need to make your case in person. And there’s no “cross-examination”, where both sides ask each other questions.
We’ll sort things out over the phone, by email or post – depending on what suits you.
Unlike a court, you generally don’t need anyone to represent you. If you’d prefer, we can talk to a member of your family, a friend or someone else who you’ve asked to help you complain.
Can I still go to court?
Our service isn’t right for all situations. Depending on what’s happened, it might be better for you to go to court. For example, you might want to go to court if you think the loss you’ve suffered is more than we can tell a business to pay you.
We won’t usually look into a problem that a court has already looked into. And if you accept our ombudsman’s final decision, a court won’t look into the same issues.
If you don’t accept the ombudsman’s final decision, you can still take your problem to court. Because the courts take a different approach, their answer might be different to ours.