FOS investigated by undercover C4 Dispatches reporter…Update !

I have now viewed this programme.  It is not as “in depth” as I would have hoped, but C4 Dispatches has taken a brief look at the FOS and come up with some worrying findings, some of which were apparently sourced from current FOS staff.   These are summarised and commented on by the various publications I link to below.  There are suggestions that staff are not properly trained, do not always understand the products they are dealing with, have high workloads and there is quite a lot of other criticism.  It seems that FOS targets have to be met by investigators and corners may be cut to achieve these (they have been reduced temporarily it seems).
Perhaps the most important thing is that Nicky Morgan, ex minister and now Chair of the Parliamentary Treasury Committee is sufficiently  concerned to have written to the Chief Ombudsman asking several crucial questions…including whether FOS has the ability has the ability to reopen cases that may not have been decided correctly.    At last it seems questions that some of us have been asking for years may be dealt with.  Why is there no independent (repeat independent) review of cases available to ordinary people, and why do many FOS staff have no (or insufficient)  financial qualifications ?

Exchange of letters
Link to Treasury Committee Chair’s actual letter to the Chief Ombudsman
Link to Chief Ombudsman’s response
Link to Treasury Committee Chair’s comments
Nothing very surprising here as Caroline Wayman defends her team. However once again FOS spells out that if a case handler’s “view” is not agreed by both sides, it can be referred to an Ombudsman for a final decision.  This is described as an appeal, but in fact its just another look at the case by a more senior FOS employee…not an independent appeal.  The Ombudsman’s decision is not appealable and most people can’t afford a Judicial Review.
Ms Wayman also states that the FOS Board is going to appoint an independent person to review the concerns raised by Channel 4.  The choice of this person and how genuinely independent they are remains to be seen.
But there is hope of a proper review.  The Treasury Committee Chair has commented:

“The independent review must consider the FOS’ approach to decision-making, the assurance process, and the causes of low staff morale. The Committee will want sight of the terms of reference before they are finalised. The review should be demonstrably independent, all findings of the review should be published, and the Committee will expect to take evidence from the reviewer.
I shall be writing to Ms Wayman in due course to set out in more detail the Committee’s expectations of the review, and the Committee will consider whether further action is required in response to the correspondence it has received.”

The last sentence may refer to suggestions that the Committee has received a lot of correspondence as a result of the C4 documentary. This may cause further questions to be asked of FOS.
We shall see !

Comments in full
Link to Treasury Committee website

Other links
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UK complaints body accused of bias in favour of banks

Business Standard 13 Mar 2018
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Money Marketing 13 Mar 2018
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Hundreds of thousands of financial complaints may need to be re-examined

Your Money 13 Mar 2018

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Blog: FOS didn’t deserve the Channel 4 treatment

Money Marketing 13 Mar 2018
Not all the press was so critical !

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Industry calls for review of FOS past cases and training regime
Financial Reporter 13 Mar 2018

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Undertrained FOS staff ‘rely on Google’ to solve cases

Investment Week 13 Mar 2018

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FOS’s response to the Dispatches programme, as published on its website 12 Mar 2018

Link to FOS website

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Public write to Treasury Committee as a result of C4 documentary
FT Adviser 22 Mar 2018

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Categories: FOS, qualifications, Uncategorized

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