A few points to note in relation to the FOS.
The FOS has changed the name of the leaflet to be sent out to customers with complaint final response letters. It is now called “Want to take your complaint further”. The leaflets are available in the same way as before – by telephoning 020 7964 0092 or completing an online order form.
The leaflet is periodically reviewed and anyone issuing either a holding letter or a final outcome letter is required to include the original leaflet, ensuring it’s the current version.
Dealing with complaints by email
One quandary to note. There is nothing in the rules that prohibits complaints being dealt with by email. However, the FOS does not provide a PDF version of the Complaints Leaflet. The FOS website states “… businesses are required to give consumers an official print version …”. The implication therefore is that you’ll have to send a hard copy letter together with a printed version of the leaflet from FOS.
Given the reduced service from the FOS (see below) it may be prudent to order some leaflets now – just in case!
The FOS website is displaying the following message for consumers:
“Service update in light of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Outbreak
Given the unprecedented circumstances we’re all facing in light of the coronavirus outbreak, our service is currently being impacted in the following ways:
Our phone lines are open, but with limited availability, between 12pm and 3pm. Please only call us if you are facing severe ill-health or financial hardship.
We are not currently able to receive post at our office. Please do not send us anything by post. It is very likely that any post sent to us after 18 March 2020 may not reach us. As Royal Mail are unable to deliver post to our office, they’ve told us that they will hold it for 28 days. If after 28 days our office remains closed and we haven’t been able to collect our post from Royal Mail, they will look to return it to the sender. If you’ve sent us a complaint form by post, please resubmit this either by email or using our online form.
It will take us longer than we’d like to resolve complaints.”
The FOS is encouraging contact from consumers to be by email or their online form and indicating a longer than usual response time. It would be prudent for fims to include this information in any final response letter.
FOS contact details
Online form: www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/contact-us/complain-online
Phone: 0800 0203 4567
The message for firms is similar, indicating a reduced service. The Technical Desk is still available for firms seeking guidance. However, the service will only be available Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4pm until they get used to working differently.
The technical desk’s role is to talk to people involved with resolving complaints (firms, claims handlers and consumer advisers) about complaints that haven’t yet been brought to the ombudsman. They can give general information on how the ombudsman might look at a complaint, as well as being able to offer guidance on their rules. Contact information for the desk is:
Phone: 020 7964 1400