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frequently-asked questions

This section answers a number of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about:

complaining to the ombudsman

our independent role

I thought you were meant to be the consumer champion – so why won't you uphold my complaint?

The ombudsman service is neither a consumer champion nor an industry trade-body. We’re completely impartial - just as a judge would be if you took your complaint to court instead of to us.

Our role is to reach a fair and reasonable decision about the complaints we look at - based on the facts of each individual case. In some cases, we find there’s just been a misunderstanding - or we don’t think the business has treated the consumer unfairly. In these situations, our job involves explaining why that is.

how often do you find in favour of the consumer?

Like the courts, the ombudsman service is completely impartial. We’re also open about our work. And we publish a range of complaints data about the cases referred to us – showing the number of complaints we receive and the proportion we uphold.

does the ombudsman punish or fine businesses?

No. Our job is to sort out individual complaints between consumers and businesses providing financial services - where consumers think they have lost out.

We don’t write the rules for businesses- and we don’t monitor (or regulate) businesses to make sure they follow the rules. This is the responsibility of the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

can the ombudsman make a business apply a decision on an individual case to all other consumers in the same position?

The ombudsman can’t make a business apply a decision on an individual case to other consumers. However, where a complaint raises an issue that might lead to large numbers of other complaints, we discuss this with the regulators.

In some situations, action by the regulator to sort out a wider issue may be more appropriate than the ombudsman deciding each individual case.