The Financial Ombudsman Service or (FOS) is an ombudsman set up in 2001 to aid in the settling of disputes between consumers and UK businesses providing financial services. This includes banks, building society, insurance companies, investment firms and others.
If you are having trouble making a successful PPI reclaim against your bank then the FOS can step in to assist you with your PPI claim. They will look into the evidence presented and if no settlement can be made between you and your bank in relation to a PPI reclaims case, the FOS will decide if you have been mis-sold PPI and force the bank to refund you.
No the FOS is free to consumers so if you need to use them for any of you PPI reclaims cases it will not cost you anything.
Although there is nothing stopping you from going straight to them for a PPI reclaims case, the FOS is really set up to provide assistance to those with disputes that they have not been able to resolve with the company in question. If you make a complaint against a company through the FOS they will ask if you have tried to get resolution direct first, this includes PPI reclaims. This will also be checked with the company on the FOS initial complaint letter to them, if it cannot be proven you have followed the companies complaints procedure without good reason then it is likely your complaint will not be upheld. The FOS should only be used as a last resort. Always start your PPI reclaims with the original creditor, going straight to the FOS could slow things down.
In regards to PPI reclaims you should always go direct and let the company check the PPI reclaim case before approaching the Financial Ombudsman Service.
It depends. the FOS currently suggest a turnaround time of up to 2 years for mis-sold PPI reclaims. As you can imagine there are thousands of cases currently being processed in the FOS with the majority being related to mis-sold payment protections insurance.
No, although some firms may tell you this to try and get you to sign up. The FOS works on a case by case basis with all PPI reclaims and will not favour one case over another for any reason.