The Financial Ombudsman Service available to all

The Financial Ombudsman Service available to all

The Financial Ombudsman Service was set up by law as an independent public body. Its job is to resolve individual disputes between consumers and businesses – fairly, reasonably, quickly and informally.

The Ombudsman is for everyone. That means meeting the needs – and talking the language – of whoever asks for help.

They are also committed to making sure answers and decisions are technically right, as well as wanting to make what they do feel right. And they do this by listening, thinking and explaining.

Nine out of ten people say they have no complaints about their bank, insurer or finance firm. And most financial transactions take place without any problems.

But sometimes things go wrong. And when they do, and a customer isn’t happy, it’s up to the business to try and sort it out. The business must be given the chance to look into a problem – and they have eight weeks to do it.

If the customer still isn’t satisfied, they can come to the FOS. They listen to both sides of the story, and give advice or make decisions based on the facts that they see.

About the Service

  • The service was set up by Parliament to sort out individual complaints that consumers and financial businesses aren’t able to resolve themselves
  • The service is free to consumers
  • Depending how complicated a case is, complaints can be sorted out in a few months. But some cases – for example, complaints about mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) – can take much longer
  • It does not write the rules for financial businesses – or fine them if rules are broken. That’s the regulator’s job.

The chart below shows a breakdown of the complaints they have received over the years up 31 March 2015.

Type of complaint 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
banking and credit 24% (79,763 cases) 13% (65,077 cases) 15% (77,176 cases) 24% (64,234 cases) 31.5% (65,063 cases)
investments and pensions 4% (14,723 cases) 3% (15,938 cases) 4% (19,834 cases) 6% (14,862 cases) 7.5% (15,483 cases)
insurance excluding PPI 9% (30,080 cases) 6% (31,213 cases) 7% (33,172 cases) 10% (27,563 cases) 10% (20,978 cases)
payment protection insurance (PPI) 63% (204,943 cases) 78% (399,939 cases) 74% (378,699 cases) 60% (157,716 cases) 51% (104,597 cases)
new cases in total 329,509 512,167 508,881 264,375 206,121

Payment Protection Insurance

Including complaints about payment protection insurance (PPI), insurance accounted for 72% of all the new complaints received during the year (compared with 84% last year).

87% of all these insurance complaints were about PPI – with other insurance products making up the remaining 13%.  A slight change to last year which is reflected in the decrease in PPI complaints received.

Since 2011 the majority of complaints referred to us each year have involved payment protection insurance (PPI). In total, we have now received more than one and a quarter million complaints about PPI. In 2014/2015, of received 204,943 new PPI complaints – compared with 399,939 last year.

Motor insurance

Similarly to last year, complaints about car and motorcycle insurance accounted for the majority of insurance complaints excluding PPI. Disappointingly, many of the people who contact the service are simply unhappy about the level of customer service they have received from their insurer.

Buildings and contents insurance

These complaints are often triggered when a customer receives a renewal quote from their current insurer. As a number of media articles have highlighted over the year, these quotes can be far higher than those a different insurer is offering – or higher than those the same insurer is offering to new customers.

Banking and credit

During the year, 24% of the complaints we received involved banking and credit – up from 13% last year.

How to complain

Talk to the business first if you’re unhappy and give them a chance to put things right. They have up to eight weeks to give you an answer.

If the business doesn’t answer within eight weeks – or you’re unhappy with what they say – get in touch with the Ombudsman.

You can ring on 0300 123 9 123 or 0800 023 4567 from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, and from 9am to 1pm on Saturdays.

You can also email at