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FOS may reopen cases after exposé on poor staff training

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The Financial Ombudsman Service may reopen thousands of completed cases following undercover reporting that discovered staff had incomplete training.

Some staff had to resort to using Google to do their own research on complained-about products.

Other employees said they were thrown into cases with little or no training.

The findings air tonight in Channel 4’s Dispatches, but have been leaked to The Times.

Dispatches sent an undercover reporter to train as an investigator at the FOS.

One FOS staffer said the financial watchdog had set tough targets for employees, leading to decisions being churned out or sidelined due to workload.

The Times’ report says another employer said ruling against consumers was seen as the easy option.

A FOS spokeswoman told The Times that the Dispatches report does not represent the watchdog at its best. She added that FOS staff are “committed to doing the right thing” and the body always wants to improve.

Last October the FOS announced plans to hire more staff after cutting hundreds in 2016.

The full Dispatches episode will air at 8pm tonight.

Rob Cooper, ME Group’s director of regulation and compliance, was responding to the findings of Channel 4’s Dispatches Programme (12 March) on the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), where undercover reporters found poorly trained staff dealing with complaints.

Legal technology firm ME Group says the FOS’ current complaints procedures are not fit for purpose.

ME Group director of regulation and compliance Rob Cooper says: “They rely on traditional, low-tech processes and staff who don’t have the right training.

“Although the FOS is the official channel through which to complain about mis-selling, Dispatches makes clear that the process can be daunting.

“The FOS has a tough job because they have to process huge numbers of claims submitted by claims management companies and law firms which can be poorly written, missing essential information and sent through in all sorts of different formats.”

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