Having had many – always poor – experiences of the Financial Ombudsman Service, I know how badly they and ombudsmen generally need to be held to account.
I know of those who brought serious and urgent concerns to the FOS, to have them exacerbated, and then the FOS didn’t uphold the complaint. There was a grass roots website about this ombudsman but the URL now lands on a different site, and I found a report about ‘managing’ those who spoke out.
They’re busy with PPI claims at present. Payment Protection Insurance reclaiming is about putting right an unjust scandal – historically, and going forward. But many of the financial companies aren’t investigating properly, and the FOS is also dragging its feet and putting customers off getting their justice, coming up to this summer’s deadline.
I was furious just how unjustly I’d been treated regarding financial products.
Credit ratings are favourable when we’ve borrowed often – and thus made them money; not when we’ve paid outright or not bought. Looking into how much extra any form of hire purchase/loan costs above the original price is an ire making exercise. I discovered too that the contracts we’re made to sign – without negotiation – means that even if we’re able to pay off in full later, we’re not allowed to, but have to keep with a payment plan which can require us to pay twice or more what the item is worth.
I believe many of the financial companies broke the Consumer Credit Act 1974 when they held us into non individually negotiated contracts not in our favour.
Ironically, it’s over permissions that I found a particular ethical and legal issue with the FOS. Their own declarations are, I believe contrary to GDPR – and certainly not moral and fair. They enforce a too wide blanket ‘consent’ which allows unnamed 3rd parties to be involved without further permission or warning (other than the companies you complain about), for your data to leave the EU without further consent or reason, and to hold your full case details for 6 years.
I was appalled at what companies had collected – even after many years (and as an ex customer) and when the company had been passed over to another. Old letters, personal facts about myself and my life and 3rd parties were all on file. To allow the FOS to see all of those meant that they had a broad and personal picture of my life, and – knowing how much our privacy is intruded into by marketing and government – I didn’t want that.
GDPR is – or should be about – giving us the right to control and choose who knows what about us.
I gave them consent to investigate, to contact the other parties, but I flagged up concerns about the wording, including the unnecessarily broad issues above. They said we can withdraw consent at any time. I was told that unless I signed to give my consent to all of it, the FOS wouldn’t investigate. When I gave it but said it was coerced, they said it must be freely given.
That’s an issue – that consent is mandatory but that must be freely given?
That I am asked to choose between autonomy and privacy – and a sense of justice and redress? This is becoming too common
My other issues with the Financial Ombudsman:
-the length of their delays, repeat sending of forms and asking of question, getting the case wrong, lack of comprehension and joined-upness
-the FOS was very poor at handling a complaint against itself, awarding £7 per case for several months’ hold ups and mistakes
-the independent assessor does as she ‘sees fit’. I’ve frequently found these – when I at last get to them – to be rude, unaccountable, partial in both senses, and unsympathetic. The FOS is slow to see its or others’ failings – I am checking via FOI to discover how badly. (I know from FOI that the Parliamentary Health and Social Care ombudsman awards to less than 1% each year.) The FOS’s IA, Ms A Somal, and her lackeys, consider her report an Opinion with a capital O; she doesn’t feel the need to substantiate it, and neither will she reply to your response. Like on Fraggle Rock, the Trash Heap has spoken (you almost hear the ‘so nrrrr!). And that’s it.
As it won’t hold itself to account, we need the media to do so.
Now the Trash Heap has spoken!