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ombudsman news

issue 58

December 2006/January 2007

confidence building

The former United States' Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, will go down in history for - among other things - reminding us to distinguish between the 'knowns, the known unknowns, and the unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know'. At the Financial Ombudsman Service we have a good idea about the people who contact us and make complaints. We also know about the people who contact us but don't need to refer a complaint. And beyond them, there are all those who might think about contacting us about a complaint, but don't.

When questioned in a recent survey, about half of a representative sample of the population said that knowing the ombudsman service exists increases their confidence in the financial services industry. The other half couldn't quite make the connection, but didn't respond negatively. This ought to be good news. It was precisely in order to increase confidence - by offering consumers a free independent source of decision-making on financial disputes - that the financial services industry invented the ombudsman. So we exist not just for the people who actually complain.

Out there, among the unknowns (the ones we'll never know), we can feel reasonably sure there are plenty of people who - glancing at their insurance policy, bank leaflet or investment details - see a mention of the Financial Ombudsman Service. As a result - it flashes through their minds that, in the unlikely event of something going wrong, there's somewhere they can go to get it put right.

In the season of goodwill, that's a positive thought to end the year on.

Walter Merricks
chief ombudsman

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ombudsman news issue 58 [PDF format]

ombudsman news gives general information on the position at the date of publication. It is not a definitive statement of the law, our approach or our procedure.

The illustrative case studies are based broadly on real-life cases, but are not precedents. Individual cases are decided on their own facts.