Complaint checker tool tells you how to fix your money problem as soon as possible

CUSTOMERS wishing to resolve financial disputes can do so more easily with a claims verification tool.

The Financial Ombudsman Service was established by Parliament in 2001 and resolves complaints between businesses and individuals.

1

The Financial Ombudsman Service can help you resolve a dispute between you and a companyCredit: Getty

A mediator must be independent, free and impartial.

The Financial Ombudsman Service deals specifically with issues relating to:

  • bank accounts, payments and cards
  • payment protection insurance (PPI)
  • home, car, travel and other types of insurance
  • loans and other credits, such as car financing
  • collection and reimbursement issues
  • mortgages
  • financial advice, investments and pensions

If you think you can use the services of the ombudsman but you are not sure that your complaint will be upheld, you can use his tool.

Buyers fume as Sainsbury's refuses to honor price issue
Warning for broadband customers about 'astronomical' charges - best and worst companies

The tool guides you through a number of options relating to your issue, ending with the option of filing a complaint with the ombudsman.

Some of the options include whether you are a customer of the company you are complaining about or whether you are complaining on behalf of someone else.

How does the service work?

The ombudsman was set up as an “informal and free alternative to the courts”.

Generally, complaints are handled by telephone, e-mail or post.

Unlike in court, you do not need a legal representative throughout the process.

Usually each party will tell the ombudsman what they remember of the details of the case and if they can provide written evidence or documents this can often be helpful.

The ombudsman will then make a decision on what is “just and reasonable” depending on the case.

Consumers are not required to accept the decision and can withdraw from the process at any time, but this must be done before the final decision is made.

But be warned, as if you did, you are unlikely to be able to escalate your complaint to them.

Typically, your case will be handled by a “handler” who will review all documents and evidence provided by both parties.

They will then talk to both parties and recommend how the complaint might be resolved.

If you disagree with what the case manager has suggested, you can request that it be referred to an ombudsman.

The Ombudsman will then review all the details of your complaint and make a final decision.

Can I get compensation?

If, as a consumer, you have lost financially, a resolution may include compensation to put you back in the situation you were in before the problem occurred.

And sometimes financial firms are asked to pay additional fees and interest.

However, there is a limit to the amount companies can be asked to pay.

These are different depending on when the complaint came to the Ombudsman’s attention.

For more information, you can visit the Financial Ombudsman Service website.

The ombudsman can also ask companies to do two other things to make things right.

This includes resolving the situation in a way that does not involve paying money and paying you money in recognition of the impact of the dispute.

How long does it take to resolve a dispute?

The service strives to provide responses to complaints within 90 days of receipt of the complete complaint file.

If you accept the manager’s recommendations, a case can be resolved in just a few weeks.

We can only afford to feed our 5 children cooked food - it's a nightmare
Martin Lewis urges households to apply for up to £1,500 in help with energy bills

But if this cannot be done, the process will obviously take longer.

Indeed, a mediator must conduct a formal and detailed investigation.

Virginia C. Taylor