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Grace period for complaints handling ends

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

The FCA considers firms have had sufficient time to overcome the practical challenges that may have make responding to consumer complaints more difficult.

It has revised the statement it provided on 1 May which allowed for some flexibility in firms meeting the complaints handling obligations while responding to Covid-19.

However, as complaints handling is an important part of consumer protection and treating customer’s fairly, it’s perhaps no surprise that the FCA is keen for firms to meet the timeframes and other requirements set out in the Handbook.

“We consider that firms have now had enough time to embed new ways of working, and, accordingly, a failure to comply with complaint handling requirements, should only arise in exceptional circumstances connected to the impact of coronavirus."

The expectations that complaints-handling should be business as usual again extends to dealing with the Financial Ombudsman Service, including responding to requests for information and paying awards in a timely manner.

The statement also confirms that the FCA continues to expect firms to prioritise complaints from vulnerable consumers and from micro-enterprises and small businesses who are likely to face serious financial difficulties if their complaint is not resolved promptly and fairly.

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