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ombudsman news

issue 70

June / July 2008

ask ombudsman news

complaining about the ombudsman service

I'm not happy with the way a customer's complaint against me is being dealt with at the ombudsman service - and I think the adjudicator working on this case is wrong. Is there anything I can do about it - can I appeal at all-

an independent financial adviser

If you don't agree with the adjudicator's view, you should discuss the matter with them - and do this as early and as fully as possible. Explain your concerns - and set out the reasons why you disagree with their view. If there are any new facts or arguments that you've not so far put forward, this is your opportunity to do so. Don't hold back any information for later as a surprise tactic.

The adjudicator will give careful consideration to any concerns and issues you raise - and take full account of all the information you provide. Having seen many very similar cases before, the adjudicator will have a very good idea of how the ombudsman would be likely to view your case.

If, after discussing matters fully with your adjudicator, you remain unhappy - then you can "appeal" directly to the ombudsman. That is the final stage of our process. A final decision from the ombudsman is binding on you - if the consumer accepts it. You cannot then appeal against that final decision - or ask another ombudsman to look at the case. So you should make sure you've presented all your arguments and facts to us well before then.

We have an entirely separate procedure for handling complaints about the level of service we have provided. This would include instances where - for example - you think we have treated you rudely or unfairly, or have failed in some other way to deal with matters in a polite and professional way.

If it is the level of service you have received that you are unhappy about - rather than the view that the adjudicator is reaching on the merits of the case - then you should, in the first instance, tell the adjudicator this. Your adjudicator and their manager will try to put right anything we have done wrong - as quickly as possible.

If you remain dissatisfied, you should write to our service review manager, who will investigate matters. Our procedures for dealing with complaints about our standards of service include referral to our independent assessor, if we are not able to resolve matters ourselves.

The independent assessor cannot get involved in disagreements about the view we reach on the merits of individual disputes between consumers and businesses. But he is appointed by our board to carry out a final review of complaints about the standard of service we have provided - and he produces a report each year summarising his findings. We recently published in full his latest report as part of our 2007/08 annual review, available in the publications section of our website.

You'll find more information in the frequently-asked-questions section of our website about what you should do if you are unhappy about the service we are providing - or about the initial view we are reaching on the merits of an individual dispute.

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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.