Complaints Concerning Building Societies

If your complaint falls within the scope of the Financial Services Act, the building society will be a member of the appropriate SRO or SIB and you should use the complaints procedures already described. If it's not covered by the Act, and you've exhausted the society's internal compaints procedure, you could take your case to the Building Societies Ombudsman.

The Office of the Building Societies Ombudsman

What it is Scheme started in 1987 to provide a low cost route for dealing with consumer complaints. It's a statutory scheme (under the Building Societies Act ). All societies are members.

When you can complain About most aspects of building society products and services, except those arising before the mortgage or investment was completed. The biggest area of work is, not surprisingly, mortgages. Other typical complaints concern investment accounts and disputed cash machine withdrawals.

When you can't complain Excluded areas include, at present, some of the new areas that building societies have moved into, such as deposit-based personal pension plans.

Points to watch The Ombudsman's decision is not binding - either on you or the society, so you can still take your case to court. At the time of writing, societies have (with one exception) so far complied with the Ombudsman's decisions, and if they didn't they would have to publicise their reasons for not doing so and include an explanation in their annual report. The Ombudsman has the power to make awards up to £400,000.

Office of the Building Societies Ombudsman Grosvenor Gardens House, 35-37 Grosvenor Gardens, London SW1X 7AW

Tel: 020-7931 0044

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... see: Complaints Concerning Banks

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