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ombudsman news

issue 32

October 2003

ask ombudsman news - your questions answered

dead-end for mortgage endowment complaint-

A client of the advice bureau where I work has reached a dead-end with his mortgage endowment complaint. In 1987 he took out a mortgage through his building society. It directed him to a life assurance firm to get an endowment policy to cover the mortgage. He's now discovered that the policy probably won't produce enough to repay his mortgage. But when he complained to the building society, it just didn't want to know. lt said it wasn't responsible for the advice he received and that he should complain to the life assurance firm. When he did this, the insurer didn't want to know either. It said the building society was responsible. He is a customer of both firms, yet neither will help him. What should he do-

In the past, relationships between financial firms were sometimes more complicated than they are now. This can lead to difficulties in finding out who is responsible for the advice that was given. The Financial Services Authority lays down rules for firms about how they should deal with their customers' complaints.

When a dispute arises and it is unclear who was responsible for giving the advice in question, we expect the firms involved to get together and agree a way forward - so that the customer's complaint is handled appropriately and in accordance with the rules.

Unfortunately, in your client's case the firms appear simply to have laid the responsibility at each other's doors. It's not our role to resolve disagreements between firms. However, if your client contacts our consumer helpline - 0845 080 1800 - we can consider the issue as a whole and see if we can establish which firm has responsibility for the original advice and, therefore, for considering the complaint.

telling customers about the ombudsman service

I work for a small firm of financial advisers and we've just had our first-ever complaint. I know we're supposed to tell the customer about the ombudsman service. Is it OK just to give him a page or two printed-off from your website-

No. You must give your customer a copy of the leaflet - your complaint and the ombudsman - as required under the FSA rules. The leaflet is available in packs of 25 at £5 per pack - including postage. You will need to send us a cheque with your order - made payable to Financial Ombudsman Service Limited.

For more information and an order form - look on the publications pages of the frequently-asked-questions section of our website or call us on 020 7964 0092.

Walter Merricks, chief ombudsman

ombudsman news issue 32 [PDF format]

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.