There are time limits affecting whether we can or can’t help with a complaint.
How long a customer has to complain
Your customer usually needs to complain to you or to us within 6 years of the problem happening.
If they haven’t done this, we can’t usually investigate the complaint unless the customer makes their complaint within 3 years of becoming aware (or when they should reasonably have become aware) that they had cause to complain.
Time limits for a business to reply
Your business has 8 weeks to consider a complaint. Before this time limit has passed, you should send your customer a final response.
What the final response should say
The final response should mention that your customer has the right to refer their complaint to the Claims Management Ombudsman at the Financial Ombudsman Service in the next 6 months.
If the final response doesn't mention the 6 month time limit, then the response isn't valid and the customer can still complain to us after that.
The final response also needs to say whether you agree to us looking into the complaint if it’s referred to us late. If you say you agree, you can't change your mind later on.
There are other things you’ll need to include in your final response – you can check the correct wording to use.
How long a customer has to complain to us after receiving a final response
After your customer has received your final response, they have 6 months from the date of this to refer their complaint to us.
If they complain later than this, we usually won’t be able to help unless:
- the delay is due to exceptional circumstances – for example, they were seriously ill during the time when they had to refer the complaint
- you didn’t send a valid final response
- you agree to us being involved after the 6 month time limit
If you don’t agree to us investigating a late complaint, we'll still look into what's happened and decide if we agree the complaint is out of time.
How to calculate when the 6 month time limit ends
The 6 months start from the date the you send the final response. We then use calendar months to work out the end date.
So if you send a final response on 7 May, the customer has until 7 November to refer the complaint to us.
If you send a final response on 30 August, then the customer has until 28 February to complain to us – since it’s not possible to have an end date of 30 February.