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FOS reopens 23% more cases in weeks after Dispatches programme

When it aired on 12 March, the Channel 4 programme suggested “thousands of cases” might ultimately have to be reopened by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) as a result of what it had found.

From 13 March, the day after the Dispatches documentary aired, to 3 April 2018, when Professional Adviser submitted the FOI request, the FOS reopened 960 cases that had closed after its first-stage assessment.

During the same period last year, the ombudsman reopened 778 cases, meaning 23.3% more cases were reopened in the two weeks following the Dispatches programme than 12 months earlier.

Of the cases that were reopened, “fewer than 10” were businesses the ombudsman has listed as financial advisers.
Dispatches painted the FOS in a negative light, suggesting employees were not adequately trained to deal with cases and that individuals can lose out because it is easier to let down a complainant rather than persuade a business of the decision taken.

Fewer new cases opened
While case reopenings appeared to be on the up, fewer new cases were brought to the attention of the FOS in the two weeks following the documentary.

Between 13 March 2018 and 3 April 2018, the FOS saw 21,828 new complaints, compared with 23,628 in the same period last year, a decrease of 7.62%.

A spokesperson for the FOS said: “Our workload varies from month-to-month, depending on what is happening in in the world around us and how it is affecting consumers financially.
“At the moment we are expecting a higher than average number of inquiries about online banking, as TSB’s customers are getting in touch with us asking how to make a complaint about the bank.”

The process
The FOS goes through a two-stage process when a complaint is referred to it. Initially, the complaint is reviewed by a case handler, known as investigators or adjudicators, who give their assessment of the complaint.

If both parties accept the case handler’s assessment, or if the consumer does not respond to the case handler’s assessment in the timescale provided, the case is considered to be resolved and the file is closed.

The FOS said it resolves the majority of cases at the first stage. When a consumer or business does not accept the case handler’s initial assessment, however, it can be referred to an ombudsman to consider everything afresh and issue a financial decision on the complaint.

In the year up to 13 March 2018, the FOS resolved 375,665 complaints. Some 331,523 were resolved by a case handler, and 31,734 went to be resolved by an ombudsman. There were also 12,408 complaints that were withdrawn before the FOS could issue its findings.

Article taken from – Professional Adviser

Posted by M White on 15 May 2018

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