FSA confirms new complaints handling rules

The FSA has affirmed new complaints handling rules and an increase in the Financial Ombudsman Service’s award limit from £100k to £150k.

The FSA has confirmed new complaints handling rules and an increase in the Financial Ombudsman Service’s award limit from £100,000 to £150,000.

The FSA first floated the idea of an increase to the award limit in March 2010, before formally announcing it in September last year.

The new rules include the abolition of the “two-stage” complaints handling rules to make sure firms resolve complaints fairly and do not dismiss them the first time and firms will also have to nominate a senior individual responsible for complaints handling.

The regulator will also provide additional guidance to help firms understand what they need to have in place to meet its rules and further guidance requiring firms to take account of ombudsman decisions and previous customer complaints.

FSA director of conduct policy Sheila Nicoll says: “We would rather customers were not put in a position where they had to complain, but when they do we want them to be treated fairly by their firm, with their complaint resolved promptly and being provided with redress when needed.

“Good complaints handling contributes to customer loyalty and should provide the opportunity for firms to put right problems in product design or sales before issues become widespread. But we have found major failures with the way firms handle customer complaints and have since taken enforcement action against two firms as a result of poor complaints practices.”

Since 2009, the FSA has published complaints statistics so that customers can see the volume of complaints being received by firms.

In September 2010, the FSA also started to publish firm-specific complaints data, enabling customers to compare the way different firms deal with their complaints.

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