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Open season On the FOS

It would seem that there is a hardening of attitudes from the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Recently, an adjudicator on a case of ours informed the firm of its decision to uphold the client’s complaint unless we had any other points for consideration in our defence.

We replied with a number of pertinent points. The reply from an ombudsman was a final decision and that the complaint was to be upheld but with no explanations regarding at least three of our points.

Our practice manager spoke by phone with the ombudsman concerned and asked for reasons why those points had not been addressed or even acknowledged. She could only say sorry but her decision was final. We now have a 12,000 excess to pay and a “sorry” from the ombudsman for not performing its duties correctly is not acceptable. As far as this firm is concerned, it is open season in respect of the FOS.

We know a number of instances of inconsistency by the FOS. The first is an endow-ment complaint which I believe may have far-reaching conse-quences for the FOS. The complainant exercised the right to go to the FOS who sent the client a booklet with ideas for further areas to include in its misselling complaint. In this case, the ombudsman agreed with us that the grounds for the original complaint were unfounded but the client was and still is single and that they had therefore paid for unnecessary life insurance. It was the ombudsman’s decision that they had indeed been missold the endowment.

We pointed out to the ombudsman that the life insur-ance ensures that the endow-ment is a qualifying policy and therefore that the maturity proceeds are paid tax-free. The complaint was not upheld.

Tom EvansDavid Kneale Financial Management,

Lancaster

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