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ombudsman news

issue 60

March/April 2007

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Our website has been receiving nearly 8,000 visitors a day in recent weeks. And by the time you read this, the brief video clip I've just recorded may already have been added to the site. The aim is to make sure our service is accessible to those who might be put off by written procedures and forms - and who would prefer to watch and listen to an explanation rather than read all about it.

People who have never used the services of an ombudsman before aren't necessarily at all sure what to expect. Are they going to encounter something that resembles a court or tribunal - or something nearer to a consumer action service- So the challenge was to give a brief explanation - in just two or three minutes - of what we do and how we can help.

I guess that our predecessors who started ombudsman schemes 25 years ago would never have imagined we would ever be communicating with the public in this way. They might well have thought the right stance for an ombudsman would have been to appear as similar to a judge as possible: respected, but formal, distant and austere.

We moved decisively away from this model when the Financial Ombudsman Service was set up - so that now we do much more of our communication on the phone, email and through the website. That, after all, is what customers now expect - and largely receive - from financial firms.

We have to move with the times. Customer service - for both consumers and firms - is high on our agenda. Against the background of rapidly-changing lifestyles, we have to adapt our service - but not our core values - to the altering scene.

Decisions by text message, anyone-

Walter Merricks
chief ombudsman

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ombudsman news issue 60 [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.