Feel like you’ve been mistreated by your bank or insurance company? We show you how to go about getting your complaint heard.
If you feel like you’ve been mislead or mistreated or have suffered financial loss because of unfair treatment by a financial provider then you might want to submit a complaint. Below are the steps you will need to follow:
When making a complaint you should ask yourself what are you hoping to achieve Is it realistic to expect any financial re-imbursement or will a simple apology or change of policy resolve your problem? This will enable you to more clearly state your expectations to the financial provider.
The first step you should take is to contact the company in question directly and explain your problem, your reasons for having to make a complaint and what you would ideally like them to do to resolve it.
Try to stay calm and polite even when you are feeling upset and angry about the way you’ve been treated. Keeping calm will make it easier to explain your problem - being abusive or rude is unlikely to speed up the process.
It may be that the first person you speak to is unable to respond directly to your complaint, this may be because they are not authorised to do so, are unfamiliar with the complaints process or that information they need to respond is not readily available.
So, when you call to complain you should be willing to leave the complaint with the company so they can investigate it properly and then give you a response. Under current rules businesses have up to 8 weeks to deal with customer complaints.
However this first phone call is the start of the complaints process so it is worth treating it in a fairly formal manner, especially if it is likely that your complaint is unlikely to be sorted that day. Make a note of the staff members name and when you called and agree a time for them to call you back.
Agreeing a deadline for a response is helpful for you and the member of staff dealing with your complaint. It is worth remembering that staff may need to gather information from a variety of sources to enable them to respond to your complaint; however they should be able to give you a realistic deadline for your problem.
If you feel that your complaint has not been handled appropriately over the phone the next step is to formalise your complaint in the form of a letter.
This letter should outline the reason for your complaint, what was covered in the discussion you had with a member of staff over the phone and why you feel that the complaint is still unresolved.
Also remember to include any of your customer details, reference numbers and contact information so that they know who you are and how to get in touch with you.
It may also be advisable to ask for an acknowledgement of your complaint, that way you will know that the company has received the letter and has started looking into your problem.
Once the financial institution receives your letter they should investigate thoroughly and respond to your problem in writing. They may also choose to contact you over the phone to discuss the problem if they need more information or to discuss what actions they can take to resolve the issue.
It is important to keep a record of any conversations you have as well as a copy of the original letter you sent. This will not only help you keep track of the progress of your complaint but will also prove useful if you need to take your complaint further.
The majority of banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions give a rough time period that they will aim to resolve formal complaints by on their websites. This is usually in the region of 2-4 weeks.
If you feel that your complaint has not been dealt with appropriately or that it has simply taken too long then you may want to think about sending a second letter to the company.
In this letter you should include the following:
The nature of your complaint - It is good to inform the person reading the letter what the original problem was as it may be a different member of staff who looks at the letter to any who have been dealing with it previously
If after contacting the financial institution you feel that you are making little progress the next step is contacting The Financial Ombudsman.
The Financial Ombudsman is an independent organisation set up by parliament to review customer complaints for no charge. It has the power to force businesses into action and to compensate anyone who has lost out.
It’s worth noting the Ombudsman will not accept any case where the financial institution has not had 8 full weeks to investigate. Beyond that period they will look at investigating the problem on your behalf.
In order to submit a complaint to the Ombudsmen you will need to complete a complaint form (available on their website ) and send it to them in the post. If you have any problems completing the form you can call 0300 1239 123 and they can help you complete it. (If your complaint is linked to payment protection there is an additional PPI form you will need to complete).
The time it takes for the Ombudsman to look into your complaint can vary depending on how complex the case is and if both parties are will to agree to a compromise solution. The Financial Ombudsman currently aims to resolve disputes between six and nine months.
It’s worth noting that the decision of the Financial Ombudsman is usually regarded as final in most cases as they are in place to provide an independent verdict.
If the Ombudsman does rule against a complaint they should explain their reasons for doing so and why they feel the financial institution has done nothing wrong.
If you are not happy with the way that the Financial Ombudsman has dealt with your case then you can contact The Independent Assessor.
The Independent Assessor is appointed and paid for by the Financial Ombudsman board and is there to review any case where people feel they have been let down by the Ombudsman.
However the independent assessor can’t reverse the decision of the Ombudsman adjudicating your case. It is limited specifically to the service you have received from the Financial Ombudsman.
In exceptional cases the Independent Assessor can suspend an investigation into a business if a final verdict has not been reach by the Ombudsman.
If after appealing to the Independent Assessor you still feel that your complaint has not been fairly dealt with then the final course of action you can take is to seek legal advice.
If you have formally accepted the Ombudsman’s decision then it is legally binding on both you and the company meaning there is little else you can do. However if you have rejected the decision then you are free to take the matter to court.
There are legal companies who take complaints to the small claims courts on the behalf of customers, however when you reach this stage it is worth considering the costs you may incur.
Every action up until this point is free of charge; however the costs of hiring legal experts to present your case may cost more than any potential refund or compensation you could expect to receive from the financial organisation.
Investigate the likely cost, compare this to what you're likely to get in return and decide whether it's worth it.
Very interesting....I actually had this disagreement with Natwest yesterday, who sold me a select silver account months ago based on the benefits for me....one of which was a cheque book. However on requesting said cheque book i was told this benefit was infact not available ???
A friend of mine had a current account package that she wasn't aware of, even though she was paying £8 a month and had been for many years. She thought the £8 was something to do with an overdraft facility until I pointed out the truth. It seems that she never asked for it and of course the benefits ie. car breakdown cover, mobile phone insurance etc were a complete waste since she can't drive and didn't have a mobile until a couple of years ago. I believe that the account originally was a joint account and her ex-husband accepted the package and of course after the divorce she kept the account in her name only. The bank in question never queried whether she wanted to keep that type of benefits account over all the years and we are now talking about 11 yrs. They just took the money. When she complained to the bank last year they said that it was clearly shown on her statements and it was her responsibility to check it and advise them that she didn't want that type of account any longer. I think this is wrong, I think the bank was not acting in her best interests. She has paid out over a £1000 for something she never wanted or needed. What do you think?