If you feel that you’ve been treated unfairly to do with some sort of financial matter, you shouldn’t always just take it. There are some steps that you can take to protect yourself.
As you’re signing up
You need to ensure that you read everything you sign and if you don’t understand – make sure you ask your banker. If you feel that your banker is not explaining everything properly, ask for someone else. Make sure you ask lots of questions and get whatever you can get in writing. Ask for email confirmation.
After you’ve signed up
Contact your bank in the way that’s easiest for you. If you’re calling your bank, make sure you note down the dates and times of your phone calls because if whoever’s on the other end hasn’t made a file note of your call, it will be difficult to find.
Making your complaint
You need to start by complaining to the financial institution directly first. They need to try and do everything in their power to resolve it. If you are unhappy with the resolution, you can then make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) or the Credit and Investments Ombudsman (CIO). You’ll need to find out which Ombudsman Service your financial institution is registered with. I’ve added those links to the Finance Favourites toolbar for easy access.
Before you make a complaint
You need to give your financial services provider a chance to rectify the situation. It could be that they are legally in the right (which is unpleasant but happens). They have 45 days to respond to you about your complaint. If they don’t respond or if you are unhappy with the resolution, you can then escalate to their respective dispute resolution service.
Note: If your dispute is to do with a credit facility (for example, such as a credit card, mortgage, personal loan), the provider only has 21 days to respond to you.
Pro Tip: Financial service providers typically want to avoid Ombudsman complaints because it costs them money regardless of the outcome. You can always drop the Ombudsman into conversation (calmly) if you’re not getting anywhere, so that they know you’re aware of the procedures and won’t just let it go. They will typically either take you more seriously if they weren’t before, or they’ll show you their true colours immediately (i.e. that they don’t care).