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Making a complaint about a financial business in the UK

Last Edit: 27/11/18

When UK consumers are unhappy about the service they have received from a financial business, there is a standard complaint procedure that is used by UK financial businesses and the Financial Ombudsman Service. The procedure is fairly simple and is as follows:

  1. The consumer makes a complaint directly to the business they are making a complaint against.
  2. The business should then respond and attempt to find a solution.
  3. For complex complaints, the business should take no longer than eight weeks to provide a solution.
  4. If the consumer is unhappy with the final response from the business then they can contact the Financial Ombudsman.
  5. Consumers can contact the Financial Ombudsman: online, phone or by post.
  6. The Financial Ombudsman will then review the complaint you have made to them.
  7. The Financial Ombudsman will contact the business in question for a response.
  8. A case handler for the Financial Ombudsman will give the consumer and business an answer based on their investigations.
  9. If either the consumer or business disagree with the answer from the case handler, they can ask for a 'final decision'

Writing a letter of complaint
(Pictured: writing a letter of complaint)

So, what financial businesses / services will the Financial Ombudsman Service investigate? They will investigate complaints about the following: bank accounts; car finance; debt collection; online payments; debt repayment problems; money transfers; financial advice; pensions; savings; investments; mortgages; credit cards, debit cards and store cards; motor insurance; travel insurance; household insurance; payment protection insurance (PPI); longterm loans; shortterm loans; payday loans; and credit products and services.

Consumers may be wondering when the Financial Ombudsman Service was setup and why it was setup: it was created by an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom (primary legislation) named the: The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This Act also created the Financial Services Authority (FSA). The Financial Services Authority (FSA) was created as a regulatory body for financial services, and the Financial Ombudsman Service was created to resolve disputes between consumers and financial businesses (a free service that could be used instead of the courts).

If a complaint isn't solved satisfactory by the financial business in question, the Financial Ombudsman Service aims to resolve the dispute with the following aims/values: to be fair; to listen to both sides of the dispute; give an answer quickly; and to explain things clearly. Complaints can be made to the Financial Ombudsman Service via: online:; telephone and post: