The Financial Ombudsman Service has come under fire for promoting National Complaints Day – an event during which consumers were offered the chance to win an iPad for submitting “the best complaint” on the day.
National Complaints Day took place on August 13 and was organised by ComplaintCommunity.com – a forum which allows users to post complaints about companies and allows firms to monitor complaints about them.
The website for the event, NationalComplaintsDay.com, displayed a banner which read: “iPad 64Gb prize for the best complaint on National Complaints Day 2010! Click on the links below and post your complaint for free!”
It displayed the FOS logo and a link to a form allowing consumers to submit their complaint to the company they have dealt with via ComplaintCommunity. com. The FOS promoted the day in the “news and events” section of its website. The FSA was also listed as a participating organisation but the regulator says the logo displayed is not its own and is asking Complaint Community.com to remove its name from the site.
Foot Anstey Solicitors associate Alan Hughes says: “The FOS consistently claim to be an independent arbiter and not a consumer champion but actions speak louder than words and its support for this campaign must be considered a step too far. By endorsing this campaign, it is actively encouraging complaints. It should take a long hard look at what it was set up for.”
PanaceaIFA chief executive Derek Bradley says: “The FOS has consistently denied it is a consumer champion but this finally lays to rest this myth. The FOS is meant to be independent, it is not an ambulance-chaser.”
An FOS spokesman says: “Before taking part, the FOS made it clear it would only participate if the focus of the event was on empowering both businesses and consumers to communicate better and resolve complaints early on, without the need for the ombudsman to get involved.”
A spokesman for ComplaintCommunity.com says: “The focus of the day was to give consumers advice and organisations the chance to improve complaint-handling processes and customer service. It was not and never has been an attempt to stimulate complaints. We are not a claims management firm. The FSA is listed as a participating organisation because they were going to send someone to take part but pulled out at the last minute.”