This section answers a number of frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about:
we have received a complaint that we'd like to talk through informally with someone - is that possible?
Yes. As well as resolving disputes, we carry out a wide range of complaints-prevention work with businesses. Drawing on our experience of resolving tens of thousands of financial services complaints, we can provide practical guidance to help businesses nip potential problems in the bud - before they turn into full-blown disputes.
Businesses covered by the ombudsman can contact our technical advice desk for information on a wide range of issues. Don't wait until a consumer has made an official complaint, before you get in touch with us.
By contacting our technical advice desk to talk through what looks like becoming a tricky situation, you may be able to sort out the problem informally at an early stage - saving time, money and effort all round.
Please bear in mind that an informal steer from the technical advice desk is based only on one side of the story - so it is not binding if the complaint is later referred formally to the ombudsman service. You should not refer specifically to any informal contact you have had with the technical advice desk when you write or talk to consumers about a complaint.
If you have a question about a specific case that has already been referred to the ombudsman service, our technical advice desk will not be able to discuss the case with you. Where the case has already been allocated to one of our adjudicators, you should get in touch with that adjudicator.
Sometimes a financial business, trade association or consumer body wishes to meet us to discuss some general or specific issue. As an open and accessible organisation, we are happy to discuss the lessons to be learnt from the cases we have handled, our general approach as illustrated by past cases, and our procedures.
But like the courts, we follow the rules of natural justice when dealing with individual cases. This means we cannot accept – in private – points which a financial business, a trade association or a consumer body wishes to make, to try to influence how we should decide cases that we are considering.
If we agree to a meeting about specific cases without both sides being present, we will record any relevant points – so that we may seek the views of the other side where appropriate. But usually it will be better if points are put to us in writing, which we may copy to the other side if appropriate. We will also consider any application for a hearing, which both parties can attend.