Have you ever gone to an ombudsman when you’ve got to the end of your tether with a company? Here’s Tony Boorman, chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman, on why complaints are good for everyone.
Whether it’s receiving bad food in a restaurant or endlessly waiting for public transport, when something goes wrong, it can really ruin your day! But, how do you react? Many of us may shrug our shoulders and accept it. We might grumble to our friends, but few go home, pick up a pen (or phone) and make a complaint – and that’s a shame.
At the Financial Ombudsman, we’ve heard from people who are unhappy with how their bank or insurer has managed a problem. We also listen to the views of people who have never brought a complaint to us before, so we can understand why. Some people say it’s because they’ve never had a financial problem – and that’s great. But, the majority tell us that they saw complaining as too stressful, it wouldn’t achieve anything or they just didn’t have the time.
So rather than being a nation of complainers, I think the opposite is true. Too many of us are just a tad too British to challenge poor service, for fear of ‘making a fuss’.
Good for businesses and you
So how do we change this? Well for both businesses and consumers, it helps to think about what ’a complaint’ is. Whatever the industry, complaints are a vital way of pointing out flaws in the business’s customer service. Giving critical feedback can be a great opportunity for that business to see what it’s doing wrong – and take steps to make sure the same problem doesn’t crop up again. When you think about it like that, it’s surely worth anyone’s time.
On a more individual level, it feels good to get a problem sorted out – whether this is through compensation or a simply apology.
Sometimes it can have a huge impact on your life. Take for instance one individual who got in touch because they realised they would have trouble paying their mortgage after losing their job. After speaking to their lender, we were able to agree on interest-only repayments while they got back on their feet.
Most problems can be sorted out easily when businesses and consumers take the time to talk. So why as a nation are we still reluctant to seek out help and advice?
I’d be interested in hearing what you all think… do you take the time to make financial complaints?
Also, if you’ve got a problem with a bank, credit card, payday lender or overdraft, we’ll be hosting a live Q&A session with Which? on Twitter on Tuesday 13 May 2014 so follow us @financialombuds or @WhichUK to be less British and join in. We’ll also be happy to answer your questions here.
Which? Conversation provides guest spots to external contributors. This is from Tony Boorman, chief executive of the Financial Ombudsman Services – all opinions expressed here are Tony’s own, not necessarily those of Which?.