Have you ever used an ombudsman?

in Consumer rights
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  • EachPennyEachPenny Forumite
    12.2K Posts
    If you've used an ombudsman (in any sector) we want to hear about your experience. Did it solve a nightmare or cause more trouble than it was worth?

    I hope my experience is still in time for the report!

    I've previously made a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The issue involved a relatively minor loss to me, but involved a process which could in certain circumstances lead to other people being more severely affected.

    At adjudication stage I was told the complaint wouldn't be upheld because the Financial Institution (FI) had followed their internal process and therefore treated me fairly. I pointed out that the process didn't comply with the guidance the FI was meant to follow - how can a FI treat a customer 'fairly' if it uses a process which is non-compliant with guidance, regulation or legislation? (I'm not suggesting the latter two apply in my case).

    The FOS response is that it is not there to 'regulate' - it would be a matter for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to investigate. The complainant can refer the matter to the FCA, but the FOS wouldn't do it themselves. The FCA might investigate the issue, but the complainant has no further involvement and cannot seek redress through the FCA.

    In these circumtances the complainant has little or no incentive to report the FI to the FCA, and may be reluctant to do so, especially if the FOS has already told them the FI has done nothing wrong.

    As a result of my experience I would like to see one of two things done:

    1) The FOS should amend their publicity material to make it much clearer to complainants the very limited circumstances in which a complaint may be upheld, and if it is a regulatory issue rather than a process issue then a complaint to the FOS is likely to be unsucessful.

    Or:

    2) The FOS should continue to accept complaints which have a regulatory dimension and if one is found, pause the complaint while the matter is referred by the FOS to the FCA. If the FCA confirm the regulatory issue then the FOS should unpause the complaint and proceed to make a decision - which perhaps should be a 'default' finding of unfairness if a significant failure to comply with guidance, regulation or legislation.

    I am utterly surprised that the FOS do not automatically refer to the FCA and am still unsure the information I've been given accurately reflects how the FOS should actually be operating. It is madness to expect the average consumer to understand whether their complaint is one for the FOS or FCA, and to expect them to make complaints to the FCA where there is no prospect of redress.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
  • iproposterousiproposterous Forumite
    39 Posts
    Tenth Anniversary 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    I'm not surprised you received the response you did from the FOS as I get exactly the same sort of response. You can't report failures by a FI to the FCA because they dont accept complaints from individuals!!

    Since the FOS was passed to a public company the level of service to the public has become appauling. How can you ever expect to get any sort of justice when the very business you are complaining about is the paymaster of the company you are complaining to.

    The FOS aren't alone in the poor level of service they offer, most other ombudsman services are now owned by public companies who are just in it to protect the companies you are complaining about.

    Have a look at the turnover of these ombudsman services and see just how much they are profitting from their abuse of the customers.
  • EachPennyEachPenny Forumite
    12.2K Posts
    I'm not surprised you received the response you did from the FOS as I get exactly the same sort of response. You can't report failures by a FI to the FCA because they dont accept complaints from individuals!!

    Thanks iproposterous and apologies for the delay in replying, I only saw your post this evening.

    I took the FOS advice and discovered the FCA will accept complaints from individuals, but the individual won't be involved further after the actual complaint has been made, and no form of feedback (or compensation) will result.

    In effect the FCA use the complaint as an 'intelligence report' and then decide whether further investigation is necessary. However from the individual consumer's point of view this is as good as a chocolate teapot.
    "In the future, everyone will be rich for 15 minutes"
  • iproposterousiproposterous Forumite
    39 Posts
    Tenth Anniversary 10 Posts Combo Breaker
    Forumite
    EachPenny wrote: »
    Thanks iproposterous and apologies for the delay in replying, I only saw your post this evening.

    I took the FOS advice and discovered the FCA will accept complaints from individuals, but the individual won't be involved further after the actual complaint has been made, and no form of feedback (or compensation) will result.

    In effect the FCA use the complaint as an 'intelligence report' and then decide whether further investigation is necessary. However from the individual consumer's point of view this is as good as a chocolate teapot.

    The net effect of the FCA's actions means that serious allegations made against a financial body go unpunished and un compensated to the consumer. The FOS don't take any notice of serious allegations against FI's because it is not in their interests to 'punish' the paymaster. The whole Ombudsman Services are now a total waste of time for the consumer because all of them are now funded by the very people the consumer is complaining about.
  • Former_MSE_WillFormer_MSE_Will Former MSE
    88 Posts
    Seventh Anniversary 10 Posts I've been Money Tipped! Newshound!
    MSE Staff
    Thanks so much everyone for your comments and all those who helped with our research in other ways.

    In case you haven't seen it, here's the news story and you can also read the full report as a PDF.

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