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information for businesses covered by the ombudsman service

This section answers a number of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about:

how we award redress

non-financial loss - compensation for trouble and upset

what if a consumer claims for distress and inconvenience?

We consider this separately from any redress we may award that is aimed at putting the consumer in the financial position they would now be in, if the business hadn't got things wrong in the first place.

We do not believe consumers should automatically be compensated for having to make a complaint. We all experience some inconvenience in our day-to-day lives when we deal with what we believe is unnecessary bureaucracy. But the fact that a phone line is busy or a name is spelt incorrectly - whilst irritating - is unlikely to cause real distress.

If a business has handled a consumer complaint fairly and properly - explaining clearly and promptly why it did not consider the complaint justified - we may decide the consumer has not, on balance, suffered any significant degree of inconvenience in pursuing the matter.

But in other cases we may feel the consumer faced obstacles and difficulties which we would not expect as part of the normal process of pursuing a complaint. In these circumstances, we might tell the business to pay the consumer a specified sum as compensation for particular distress or inconvenience.

The amount involved is usually modest - up to £300. Exceptionally, we may award more than £1,000, if we believe that the business has handled the complaint particularly poorly, causing the consumer clear hardship and aggravation.

Our technical note on non-financial loss - compensation for trouble and upset looks in detail at the criteria we take into account in making an award for distress and/or inconvenience.