In the Chief Ombudsman’s introduction to the 2016/17 plans and budget she hints at changes in the way FOS works. I think she means ditching paperwork negotiations and handling more cases on the phone. Here is what she wrote:
“This is why we’re also looking at the next phase of our development – with new, faster and more flexible ways of working that meet people’s changing expectations of quick and informal “dispute resolution”.
In her recent video interview with the CII (Chartered Insurance Institute), Ms Wayman actually mentioned handling cases by telephone. You can hear what she said by listening to the interview (follow this link to the video and click on “Play Video”). The bit about sorting cases as quickly as possible starts at about 13.00 minutes into the interview.
“Pick up the phone, have the conversation, try to get it sorted as quickly as possible”
At first glance this sounds wonderful, but I am not so sure. FOS will record all conversations, as will the financial firms but few consumers will be able to do this which places them at an instant disadvantage because it removes the chance to quietly consider and review what was said and correct misunderstandings or mistakes…unless FOS provides a full written transcript of what all parties said of course. There may be pressure from the FOS to settle quickly at a rough and ready compromise figure to get it sorted. The adjudicator may be under internal FOS pressure to finish cases fast, this has been the case in the past when FOS set case closure targets.
Settling things “as quickly as possible” is not always best…”sleep on it” is often good advice.