According to the Financial Services Ombudsman, there were more complaints made in March 2011 than in any other month since the office was established.
The Financial Services Ombudsman investigates complaints against banks and financial institutions by customers and is reporting that complaints about investment and insurance products remained at record highs during the last six months of 2010 and there was a 40 per cent increase in mortgage-related complaints.
In total there were 3,599 complaints received in the last six months of last year and almost half of the complaints were related to the insurance sector. Complaints about home insurance policies in 2010 doubled due to flooding and severe winter weather.
Can you complain?
If you have had an issue with a financial product then you can consider contacting the Ombudsman. Among the areas it will investigate are: bank accounts, such as bank charge complaints; credit cards, including unfair charges; debt collection, such as if a company is harassing you; insurance, such as complaints about the sale of payment protection insurance; pensions and annuities; mortgages and loans; savings and deposit accounts; and investments.
The Financial Services Ombudsman will consider the law of the land, and whether companies are breaking any laws; rules established by regulators; and good industry practice. If you feel one of these terms has been breached then you can complain.
The first step is to complain directly to the company itself. Even if you are confident it will turn down your complaint, you have to give it the opportunity to deal with the issue before you approach the Ombudsman. Assuming it rejects your complaint, or you wait more than eight weeks, then approach the Ombudsman.
To start the complaint approach the Ombudsman over the phone or online. You’ll need to fill in and post back a copy of its complaints form. The essence of the complaint and what would remedy the situation should be outlined at the start. As a general rule you have three years after you were aware that a complaint could be made or six years after the event you’re complaining about took place.
Get a good deal
While the Financial Services Ombudsman provides an invaluable service if things go wrong, it’s much better to avoid these issues from the start by ensuring you’re happy with the deal you receive and know exactly what it includes. That’s why it’s important to read terms and conditions carefully and familiarise yourself with the small print. So for example, if you’re taking out an insurance policy, make sure you know exactly what is and what isn’t covered and look out for policy exclusions.
Photo by Johann Walter Bantz on Unsplash