Last year, around 9,000 people had complaints about poor service from claims management companies (CMCs) but there was no independent help available to resolve them. That all changed in January when the Legal Ombudsman was given powers to investigate complaints, and to order firms to put things right where someone has suffered because of poor service.
CMCs take up different types of claims on behalf of people in return for an upfront fee, or a portion of any compensation paid if the claim is successful. Financial products and services provide the largest area of work for CMCs; for example, getting back unfair costs from mis-sold products or unfair charges made by banks and insurers.
A recent survey, commissioned by the Legal Ombudsman, has shown that more than two thirds (76%) of the public surveyed are not confident that CMCs tell the truth to their customers. They also said they were not confident their rights are protected by CMCs, or that a CMC would handle their complaint properly. A third of CMC users said that they wouldn’t know who to complain to if something went wrong with the service they received.
But help is now available. If you aren’t happy with the service you’ve received from a CMC and you’re not happy with their response to your complaint, or they haven’t responded to it within eight weeks, you can take your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
If there is evidence that the CMC’s poor service has caused you difficulty, such as distress or financial loss, the Legal Ombudsman can take action. For instance, it can order the CMC to reduce its fees, pay compensation, complete work or return papers. The Legal Ombudsman’s service is free to consumers and can deal with complaints about any CMC regulated by the Claims Management Regulator.
“I’m not sure what I would have done without the Legal Ombudsman. I’ve lost time and money using this claims management company so I’m happy that justice has been done.” Peter Cook
Mr Cook, from Oxfordshire, used the Legal Ombudsman when he was dissatisfied with the service he received from the CMC managing his financial claim. He had instructed the firm to help him make a claim against a company that had given him bad investment advice. However, he missed the deadline for bringing the claim after the firm failed to submit it on time. Mr Cook complained to the firm but they rejected his complaint. So, he decided to take his complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. They investigated his complaint and concluded that the service the firm had provided was unsatisfactory and ordered the CMC to pay Mr Cook £1,000 for the impact of its delay on him.
Mr Cook said: “I’m not sure what I would have done without the Legal Ombudsman. I’ve lost time and money using this claims management company so I’m happy that justice has been done. The compensation has also taken some of the sting out of my experience. I’d advise anybody having problems with their claims management company to give the Ombudsman a call.”
Click here to find more information about how to complain.