International Network of Financial Services Ombudsman Schemes

Information for consumers

tips for making a complaint

First, complain directly to your financial services provider

You need to give your financial services provider the opportunity to resolve your complaint first. In most countries, financial services providers are required to have a formal internal dispute resolution (IDR) process. If the first person you contact at the financial services provider cannot deal with your complaint to your satisfaction, ask to speak with someone else higher up who has the authority to resolve the problem.

What is a 'complaint'?

The following definition of a complaint is from the international standard, ISO 10002 - Guidelines for complaints handling in organisations. 

Observing this complaints handlingstandard is a basic requirement for businesses of all types and sizes, whether they’re in the private, public or voluntary sectors.

an expression of dissatisfaction made to an organization, related to its products, or the complaints handling process itself, where a response or resolution is explicitly or implicitly expected 

Some tips for complaining and getting a result

Be well prepared and organised before you make contact with your financial services provider. This will help you explain your complaint clearly and confidently. It will also help if you find you need to explain it to the financial services ombudsman.

  • Gather together the records you have of what happened and when it happened (or didn't happen). This may include financial statements, emails, letters, telephone conversations.
  • Think about the action you want the financial services provider to take to resolve your complaint, and a reasonable time frame in which you expect that action to be taken.
  • Ask early on about the financial services provider's IDR process, including its complaint escalation process. This will help you know what you can do if your first contact isn't successful.
  • Explain your complaint clearly and calmly (and try to stay calm).
  • Take notes of what you are told by the financial service provider.
  • If you are not satisfied with your initial contact with the financial services provider, escalate your complaint. Ask to speak with a supervisor or manager, or the provider's internal dispute resolution team. Make sure you know who that is and how to contact them again, in case you find yourself on hold and need to call back later.
  • If you are still not satisfied after discussing your complaint with a more senior person, ask what your further options are.
  • Ask about the financial services ombudsman scheme, or other independentexternal dispute resolution service, if you are still dissatisfied with your financial services provider's response.

If you can't sort it out directly

If, after raising your complaint with your financial services provider, you remain dissatisfied with its action (or inaction), you can seek the help of a financial services ombudsman.

You should be able to contact the financial services ombudsman's office directly yourself, easily andfree of charge.

You don't need to use a claims company or a paid representative.

If you can't find a financial services ombudsman in your country

If there is no INFO Network member listed for your country, here's what we suggest:

  • You should contact your country or state or province's consumer affairs office/citizens advice bureau/citizens information board/fair trading office (or the office with similar role in handling consumer complaints about businesses).
  • You could try contacting the financial services regulator in your country.
  • If the financial service provider operates in the European Economic Area, one of the members of FIN-NET may be able to assist you  — the schemes in FIN-NET co-operate to help consumers with financial complaints that cross borders. More here (including the form you can use)

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