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Consumer Rights.

Updated: 4 Mar 2021

How to take a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service

If you're having an unresolved dispute with a financial company, the Financial Services Ombudsman (FOS) could help. Follow our step-by-step guide on how to complain.
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1 Complain to the company 

Try to resolve the dispute by explaining your problem and what you want done about it. If the company has its own internal complaints procedure, follow it.

You should give the company eight weeks to resolve your complaint. 

2 Get a final response

If the company refuses to do what you ask to sort out the problem, ask for a ‘final response’ to show you've done all you can to resolve the complaint. 

If the company fails to respond to this final letter within a reasonable period of time (say, 14 days), you can take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

You must take your complaint to the FOS within six months of receiving this letter, otherwise they might not be able to help. 

3 Contact the FOS

You can find a complaint form on the FOS website, or complete the FOS online complaint form.

They can help you do this over the phone if you'd prefer to talk it through with someone, on 0300 123 9 123 or 0800 023 4567.

4 Await FOS's decision

The FOS will look at the evidence provided by both sides. It might contact you for more information, but there isn’t a hearing, as there is with a court case.

Once the FOS has made its decision it will write to you and the company with details of the ‘award’.

If the award is in your favour (they agree with your complaint), this letter will include details of what the company must do to put things right.

Key Information

Can I still take a complaint to an ombudsman after Brexit?

The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform run by the European Commission will no longer be accessible to UK buyers and sellers in a no-deal scenario. But the obligations around alternative dispute resolution for businesses will not change as a result of a no deal.

UK-based alternative-dispute-resolution organisations will no longer be required to act in cross-border disputes though, so you may no longer be able to use these.

UK consumers will still be able to contact the UK’s European Consumer Centre (ECCN) for help and advice from April 2019 to March 2020 if no deal is reached in March 2019, as the government has committed to funding the ECCN for one more year.

If the withdrawal agreement is approved by the EU and UK, it's been agreed that consumer rights will remain unchanged until the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU are decided. This transitional period will last from Brexit day on 29 March 2019 to 31 December 2020.

Looking for more information on your rights after Brexit? Read our guide on consumer rights and Brexit for more information.