Complaints Concerning Banks

If your complaint is covered by the Financial Services Act - for example, it concerns the bank's insurance or unit trust products - the bank will be a member of an SRO and you should use the complaints procedures outlined in the previous section. But if it concerns the bank's products or activities falling outside the scope of the Act - for example, the bank's deposit-type savings accounts, its personal banking or mortgage services - you can (once you've exhausted the bank's internal complaints procedures) turn to the Banking Ombudsman for help.

TIP - For the purposes of the special complaints procedures described below, 'bank' includes Access and Barclaycard and a number of separate companies associated with the banks which belong to the Ombudsman scheme.

The Office of the Banking Ombudsman

What it is Scheme started in 1986 to provide a low cost route for dealing with consumer complaints. Voluntary scheme - not all banks belong, though all the High Street banks do. The Ombudsman can't deal with complaints concerning banks who are not members.

When you can complain About most aspects of the bank's activities except those covered by the Financial Services Act. Typical complaints include disputes about cash machine withdrawals, bank charges, and the handling of accounts.

When you can't complain Some areas are excluded - for example, the level of the bank's general interest rate, and any disputes involving more than £400,000.

Points to note You must contact the Ombudsman within six months of your last dealings with the bank regarding the complaint, and the case must have arisen after 1 January 1986. The Ombudsman's decision is binding on the bank, but not you, so you can reject his decision and take your complaint to court if you wish. The Ombudsman has the power to make awards up to £400,000. Contact:

Office of the Banking Ombudsman

Citadel House, 5-11 Fetter Lane, London EC4A 1BR Tel: 020-7583 1395

Sib Complaints Procedure

What it is System for handling complaints against firms authorised directly by the SIB or against the SRO or RPB to which you took your complaint initially.

When you can complain About any aspect of your dealings with the firm. About any aspect of the way the SRO or RPB handled your complaint - but the SIB can't re-examine the original complaint itself.

When you can't complain When your complaint is against a company authorised by one of the SROs or RPBs (the SIB would pass your complaint to the relevant body). Similarly, if the company concerned belongs to one of the Ombudsman... see: Sib Complaints Procedure

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